is one army, under command of General Johnston, who commands in chief. He suggests, therefore, that you make your application on the subject to General Johnston.*
Yours, very truly,
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Acting Secretary of War.
MEADOW BLUFF, VIRGINIA, September 24, 1861-4 a. m.
General HENRY A. WISE,
Commanding, &c., Camp on Sewell, Virginia:
GENERAL: Your dispatch of the 23rd is just received. I am glad to hear that the force of the enemy in your front does not exceed 3,000. No information that is reliable has been received at this camp from Wilderness road or the Chestnutburg road, nor have I any more sidings of the enemy passing from the Sunday road to the Wilderness road than I have already given. it seems from your letter that by the report of one of your scouts, there are 7,000 at Nichol's Mill. In another part of your letter you state that only a few straggler are there. I am unable, therefore, to form any opinion as to their numbers at that point. I regret to hear that you cannot retire your baggage wagons, &c., and are compelled to remain, as at the distance you are from support it may jeopardize the whole command. Please send word whether you have sufficient ammunition, and any information as to the operations of the enemy that may serve to regulate the movements of General Floyd.
I am, with high respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
CAMP DEFIANCE, BIG SEWELL, VIRGINIA, September 24, 1861-7.15 a. m.
General R. E. LEE, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: Last night in camp, very busy. In pencil I noted what my secretary should communicate to you. I infer from your note of 4 o'clock this morning that he must have reversed everything I noted. The enemy's force in my front is from three to seven thousand. None of them on the old State road, where I have a strong force of cavalry far down below this position, and none even at Nichol's Mill except two stragglers. I sent you no reliable information last night about any road leading from the Sunday to the Wilderness road. There is no such road, or, if any, it is an impassable trail to any but foot, and no enemy yet seen on the Nichol's Mill road in any force. I tell you emphatically, sir, that the enemy are advancing in strong force on this turnpike. They are not advancing on the old State road at ak, as yet, and none but two stragglers were seen yesterday at or near Nichol's Mill. Their advance ceased firing at dark last evening, wounding Captain Lewis and 2 privates, neighed mortally, though Lewis severely. They were quiet last night, and we are ready this morning. I have a good supply of ammunition and provisions; shall keep them here, and start away my baggage wagons, if I can, this morning. I trust, at least, that their retreat can be protected and guarded by General Floyd's command. If.
*Personal matter omitted.