RICHMOND, November 20, 1861.
Brigadier General W. W. LORING,
Commanding, &c., Huntersville, Va.:
GENERAL: I have received your telegram of the 19th instant, and, referring to your letter of the 9th, * I have to inform you that Special Orders, No 222, was not intended to control your discretion in retaining such amount of force as you might fiend necessary for defensive purposes, &c., but only to make provision for such regiments as you might send from you command to Staunton. It is hoper you may yet be enabled to spare some troops from your command after making all your arrangements; but of this you must judge for yourself. Troops are much wanted both at Manassas and in the Valley District, commanded by Major-General Jackson; but other points must be looked to as well.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
HEADQUARTERS VALLEY DISTRICT,
November 20, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
SIR: I hope you will pardon me for requesting that at once all the troops under General Loring be ordered to this point.
Deeply impressed with the importance of absolute secretary respecting military operations, I have made it a point to say little respecting my proposed movements in the event of sufficient re-enforcement arriving; but since conversing with Lieutenant Colonel J. T. J. L. Preston, upon his return from General Loring, and ascertaining the disposition of the general's forces, I venture to respectfully urge that after concentrating all his troops here an attempt should be made to capture the Federal forces at Romney.
The attack on Romney would probably induce McClellan to believe that the Army of the Potomac had been so weakened as to justify him in making an advance on Centreville; but should this not induce him to advance, I do not believe anything will during the present winter. Should the Army of the Potomac be attacked, I would be at once prepared to re-enforce it with my present volunteer force, increased by General Loring's. After repulsing the enemy at Manassas, let the troops that marched on Romney return to the valley, and move rapidly westward to the waters of the Monongahela and Little Kanawha. Should Kelley be defeated, and especially should he be captured, I believe that by a judicious disposition of the militia, a few cavalry, and a small number of field pieces, no additional forces would be required for some time in this district.
I deem it of very great importance that Northwestern Virginia be occupied by Confederate troops this winter. At present it is to be presumed that the enemy are not expecting an attack there, and the resources of that region necessary for the subsistence of our troops are in greater abundance than in almost any other season of the year. Postpone the occupation of the section until spring, and we may expect to find the enemy prepared for us and the resources to which have referred greatly exhausted. I know that I have proposed will be an arduous undertaking and cannot be accomplished without the sacrifice
* Letter of 9th not found.