CAMP AT MEADOW BLUFF, VIRGINIA, September 21, 1861.
General HENRY A. WISE,
Wise's Legion, Camp on Big Sewell, Virginia:
I have just arrived at this camp, and regret to find the forces not united. I know nothing of the relative advantages of the points occupied by yourself and General Floyd, but as far as I can judge our united forces are not more than one-half of the strength of the enemy. Together they may not be able to stand his assault. It would be the height of imprudence to submit them separately to his attack. I am told by General Floyd your position is a very strong one. This one I have not examined, but it seems to have the advantage of yours, in commanding the wilderness road and the approach to Lewisburg, which I think is the aim of General Rosecrans. I beg therefore, if not too late, that the troops be united, and that we conquer or die together. You have spoken to me of want of consultation and concert; let that pass till the enemy is driven back,a nd then, as far as I can, all shall be arranged. I except this of your magnanimity. Consult that and the interest of our cause, and all will go well.
With high respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
FRAZIER'S, September 21, 1861-5 p. m.
General R. E. LEE:
GENERAL: I have just returned from feeling the enemy, being out all night and driving in their pickets this morning, and finding their precise position; but, wet, weary,a nd fatigued as I am, your note reads so like a rebuke, which I do not think I deserve, that I do not dry or warm my person or lose a moment without replying. I am so desirous to deserve and to have your good opinion and approbation, sir, that you must permit me to be plain in saying hat I apprehend you have been told somethingelse besides the fact that my position is a very strong one, and regret that I was not heard before inferences were made to which I cannot consent or correct. In the first place, I consider my force united with that of General Floyd as much as it ever has been, and in a way the most effectual for co-operation. General Floyd has about 3,800, and I about 2,200 men, of all arms, and of these at least 5,500 are efficient. The enemy can now spare from Gauley no more than 2,000 men, and has not elsewhere, with which to attack us in any short time, more than from 4,000 to 5,000 men. If he can be driven to attack General Floyd at Meadow Bluff, advancing by the Wilderness road, he must do it without artillery, and 3,000 men can repulse him as long as he is compelled to divide his force in nearly equal parts in order to bring his artillery at all, as he can bring it only but his turnpike. If he brings it by this turnpike he will be repulse easily but he Legion, if his force on this road does not exceed 3,500 men. Colonel Davis' successful attack on him in the Kanawha Valley, within 12 miles of Charleston, has drawn two of his regiments to the Lower Valley, and the utmost estimate of his force within not less than 6 miles of my camp is 3,000. But 250 tents, of 6 men each, have been counted,d and I have driven in his pickets, and killed one of them, to-day, with five companies of infantry only, with impunity.
So much for this road, except that while I am 6 miles from our enemy (who dares not attack me or to advance), my camp is less than.