road, and to the rear, to be foraged during the winter. I had hoped to have collected them by this time, but it has been impracticable to procure forage, and the spring has been so unusually late that the grass is not yet sufficiently grown to support the horses. It will be, however, in a few days, and the horses will be collected without further delay, and the regiments sent to General Lee at any point you or he may designate.
I shall part with them with reluctance, and hope they will be returned to me as soon as General Lee can spare them.
From my own limited knowledge of the wants and necessities of the general service beyond my own department, and from conjecture I have formed of the probable plan of campaign, I believe it more important that General Lee should have at present the regiments you mention than that they should remain in this department, and I will therefore make my plans yield to his.
Aside from my own opinion on the subject, it is sufficient for me to know that the President, who can take a comprehensive view of the entire theater of military operations, and knows what is proposed to be done, thinks Jenkins and his men can render more important service with General Lee than in this department.
It is proper, however, that I should say that the information I have from Kentucky is that the enemy have about 20,000 men of all arms at Lexington, Danville, Winchester, and Mount Sterling. I think it more than probable that their presence there is more for the purpose of overawing Kentucky and the adjoining Northwestern States and to support Rosecrans, than for immediate offensive operations in East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia. We may reasonably, however, anticipate raids on a large scale on these sections at any time. I have at present nearly 2,000 infantry and artillery [two field batteries] near Saltville, the extreme left of my line.
I have sent about 1,600 men, chiefly infantry and dismounted cavalry, with Brigadier-General Imboden, via Beverly, to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He should be at Beverly to-day, and if that expedition proves as successful as I hope it will, I had intended to support it with Jenkins' cavalry and a small brigade of infantry, if in the meantime no material change of the enemy's position and force in the Kanawha Valley occurred to prevent.
And I must remind you that since I took command of this department three comparatively large infantry regiments, the Fiftieth, Twenty-ninth, and Fifty-fourth [Virginia], and [V. A.] Witcher's battalion of cavalry, have been withdrawn. The Twenty-ninth is with Lieutenant General Longstreet, the Fiftieth with General Lee, the Fifty-fourth sent to Knoxville, and Witcher's battalion of cavalry to the Shenandoah Valley, and the troops of the Virginia State Line have been disbanded. I am endeavoring, with some success, to collect and reorganize the troops late of the Virginia State Line, and hope soon to have two full regiments of them, besides those who have joined the Nineteenth Virginia Cavalry, Colonel W. L. Jackson.
Brigadier-General Marshall's troops, that were relied on to guard the southwestern part of Virginia, now in the Department of East Tennessee, are reported as safe for the present on the Kentucky River, in Perry County.
Please inform me to what point I shall send Jenkins' cavalry.
I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,