Potomac than in the Valley, you are desired to give precedence to the former and take measures accordingly. In that event, you must notify General W. E. Jones, and keep me advised of your designs and operations, and how I can facilitate them.
I do not inclose General Hampton's letter reporting enemy's movements on their right, as he can inform you, and can probably give you later intelligence.
Very respectfully and truly, yours,
R. E. LEE,
FREDERICKSBURG, February 15, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: In reference to the subject of your dispatch of yesterday, I will add to my reply by telegraph that demonstrations by the enemy upon points of our communication through North Carolina are to be expected, to prevent re-enforcements reaching Charleston. In addition, upon every proposition to remove troops from any section, the apprehensions of the community exaggerate rumors, and create expectations of an immediate attack. The responsibility of the officer charged with its defense tends to produce the same result.
It seems to me to be the true policy of the enemy now to apply his whole strength to take Charleston, and it is proper for us to expect him to do what he ought to do. Unless, therefore, his conduct enables us to draw a different conclusion, we ought, if possible, to be prepared for him there.
There are many circumstances that may account for the sending of a corps of General Hooker's army to Newport News besides the supposition of an immediate attack upon the line of the Blackwater or Roanoke.
First, apprehension has been expressed at the North for the safety of Fort Monroe, in consequence of the large diminution of its garrison.
Secondly, numerous desertions are reported to have occurred in some of its commands. General Corcoran's brigade was sent to Suffolk on the plea that the atmosphere of the Rappahannock was unfavorable to them. The facilities for desertion at Newport News are less than on the Potomac. Again, it may be intended to embark this corps for Port Royal. We must ascertain what it is doing to do before we can make provision against it. But Pickett's division can meet and beat it wherever it goes.
I hope Generals French and Pryor have made arrangements by their own scouts to acquire accurate information of the movements of the enemy. Without this, we shall always be at a loss what to do.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, February 15, 1863-10.45 p. m.
Lieutenant General JAMES LONGSTREET, Commanding Corps:
GENERAL: You can give directions to General Pickett to continue his march to Richmond without fatiguing his troops, and to halt at some