dispatch sent you half an hour since I have you in substance the result of my information. I will report more in detail.
The reports from our cavalry, individual scouts, and citizens, represent that the enemy has abandoned Warrenton, fallen down to the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and is moving in force to Fredericksburg. Their progress and direction is confirmed by their camp-fires at night, which are said to be plainly visible. A large force was reported yesterday, in addition, at Brentsville, at Brentsville;it had come from the direction of Alexandria. The cavalry, with light artillery, reached Falmouth yesterday about 3 p.m. Their infantry were said to have reached Hartwood last night; their camp-fires distinctly visible, extending continuously back toward the railroad. An intelligent scout reports this morning that it was Sumner's corps, and that no other troops had passed up to late yesterday. The enemy's cavalry were prevented from crossing the Rappahannock last evening by our troops in Fredericksburg, nor have I yet heard of its occupation. There are in Fredericksburg a regiment of cavalry, one of infantry, and two additional companies, and two light batteries. McLaws' division marched this morning for that place; also Lee's brigade of cavalry, and Ransom's division from Madison. The rest of Longstreet's corps is prepared to move, and only awaits confirmation of intelligence.
Stuart, with his cavalry, was directed to cross the Rappahannock to-day, and endeavor to ascertain what was in our front and what movements were being made by the enemy. I presume I shall not hear from him till to-morrow; but unless you think it is advantageous for you to continue longer in the valley, or can accomplish the retention and division of the enemy's forces by so doing, I think it would be advisable to put some of your divisions in motion across the mountains, and advance them at least as Sperryville or Madison Court-House. I telegraphed you to this effect to-day. I learn that there are not transports at Alexandria; nothing but a few gunboats and tugs. I see, therefore, no preparation for the transfer of the enemy's troops south of the James River as yet; nor is there anything to develop their ultimate plan. It is possible that the may attempt to seize Winchester, Culpeper, and Fredericksburg, which would embrace their favorite strategic plan of advancing in three columns, but I think by so doing they will much expose themselves. I hope we may be able to take advantage of it.
I hope more shoes and blankets have arrived for your men, and that you will be enabled to keep them comfortable and in health.
I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, November 18, 1862.
Brigadier General WILLIAM N. PENDLETON,
Commanding Reserve Artillery:
GENERAL: The commanding general desires me to inform you that the army is moving toward Fredericksburg (a part already in motion), and wishes you to follow up, with your reserve artillery, Longstreet's rear. The general wishes every arrangement made to secure forage on the road for your animals, a quartermaster preceding the command, or an agent.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. H. CHILTON,
Assistant Adjutant and Inspector General.