HEADQUARTERS VALLEY DISTRICT,
Winchester, November 5, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
SIR: Yesterday morning I received the order from General J. E. Johnston directing me to assume command of this district, and, leaving Manassas by the first train of cars, arrived here last night.
A prisoner who has escaped from the Federal authorities at Williamsport, Md., states that there are about 1,200 of the enemy ready to cross the Potomac so soon as the river shall be fordable. Lieutenant Colonel Turner Ashby, of the cavalry, reports that additional troops have been moving up the river recently. The most reliable information received from Romney makes the enemy's strength there near 4,000, and from the last official intelligence they are threatening an advance on this place.
Deeply impressed with the importance of not only holding Winchester, but also of repelling the invaders from this district before they shall secure a firm lodgment, I feel it my duty respectfully to urge upon the Department the necessity of ordering here at once all the troops at Cheat Mountain, and if practicable those also from Valley Mountain, or those near Huntersville. I have frequently traveled over the road from Staunton to Cheat Mountain, and I hope that you will pardon me for saying that if the withdrawal of the Confederate forces from the Cheat Mountain region shall induce the enemy to advance on Staunton it will be his ruin, provided a sufficient available force is kept in this district in arching order. It is very important that disciplined troops of not only infantry, but also of artillery and cavalry be ordered her. It appears to me that there should be at least twenty pieces of field artillery, with their complement of horses, harness, implements, &c., assigned to this command. It will be seen from the accompanying list of ordnance and ammunition that General Carson's command only had three field pieces. General Carson also reports to me that he has in service only 1,461 militia, in addition to 130 mounted militia.
The detailed instructions referred to in your letter announcing my assignment to this command have not yet been received.
The heavy guns here are but imperfectly available for defense, in consequence of not having officers and men acquainted with the method of serving them. If you can order here Lieutenant Daniel Truehart, jr., or some other good artillery officer, to take charge of the heavy ordnance, the efficiency of this arm of the service will be greatly increased. A good engineer officer is very desirable. I have ordered Generals Carson, Meen, and Boggs to march their commands here forthwith.
Lieutenant Colonel J. T. L. Preston, Virginia volunteers, the bearer of this letter, will give you a full statement respecting the defenseless condition of this place.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,.
T. J. JACKSON,
Major-General, P. A. C. S.
RICHMOND, November 5, 1861.
Brigadier General JOHN B. FLOYD:
GENERAL: Inclosed you will receive a copy of a letter to General Loring, directing him to send General Donelson's brigade to re-enforce you. You will perceive that General Donelson is to march to Lewisburg, .