HDQRS. FIRST Brigadier, ARMY OF WESTERN VIRGINIA, Monroe Draft, Va., March 14, 1864.
General R. E. LEE,
Commander-in-Chief, Army of Northern Virginia:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 9th instant, in reference to the defenses of the Department of Western Virginia.
On examination of General Early's report and the map accompanying it, I find that his proposed line of defense, as soon as it enters the recognized limits of this department, diverges so much to the south as to leave exposed and entirely undefended the counties of Greenbrier and Monroe, and that portion of Allegheny through which the enemy in his late raid penetrated this department to the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad.
The troops of this command are now holding positions 50 miles in advance of General Early's proposed line, and are disposed of and occupied as follows: One brigade at Monroe Draft, near Burnt Bridge, 3 1/2 miles south of Lewisburg, and actively employed constructing a line of defenses along the left bank of Howard's Creek, covering the roads from Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs; the other at the Narrows of New River. With this brigade I propose to occupy and construct at Princeton a large self-sustaining work, Princeton being the salient or key point of that section of this department lying west of New River. It masks and effectually guards all the main roads leading to the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, the lead mines of Wythe, and the salt-works. Four companies of cavalry attached to the First Brigade are stationed at Meadow Bluff, 16 miles in advance of Lewsiburg, and a battalion of partisan rangers at Alderson's Ferry, Greenbrier River. The engineer troops are employed at Covington reconstructing the bridge over Jackson's River at that point, recently destroyed by the enemy. As soon as this is completed they will be moved to the Burnt Bridge, over the Cow Pasture River, Central Railroad,to construct they proposed defensive works at that point. Colonel Jackson's command is at the Warm Springs. I expect to visit his command the latter part of the present week.
In view, general,of the present disposition and occupation of my forces (and the extent of the country they are called upon to occupy and protect will necessarily prevent me from furnishing as large a detail as that mentioned in your communication), I have endeavored to put myself in communication with Captain Howard, engineer, and anticipated meeting him at the Warm Springs.
After two applications to the War Office, I have been unable to ascertain the boundaries of this department.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. C. BRECKINRIDGE,
AJDT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 65.
Richmond, Va., March 18, 1864.
* * * * * *
XXVIII. The First South Carolina Cavalry, Colonel Black, and the Second South Carolina Cavalry, Colonel Lipscomb,will proceed