believing that my opinion of the danger attending their enforcement under present exigencies would meet with his concurrence and section.
In informing the Government that General Whiting's command needed re-enforcement, so far from intending that either the left or center cloud furnished the addition troops, I sought to impress upon it the fact the both are too wear.
In view of the fact that our right flank ia about 25 miles from this point, the left almost as far, the enemy's center about 15 miles from it, the country full of disloyal people, our army liable to attacks upon its whole front or any part of it by at last threefold numbers, I hope the President will favorably coincide my appeal, earnestly and respectfully renewed, for a continuance of the discretion he has vested in me, merely as to the time of executing the orders in question.
Trusting that the President will think, as I do, that I only ask for an authority rarely withheld from a general commanding an army, I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
RICHMOND, December 13, 1861.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant-General C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to state that I have taken the liberty of leaving my command for a couple of days, in order to report to the War Department in person what I have already done by letter to Major-General Homles, namely, the necessity of some immediate steps being taken in the District of the Lower Rappahannock in order to prevent the possibility of the disaffected elements from gaining the ascendancy. The landed proprietors of the Northern Neck, Essex, and Middlesex have not only must of them volunteered, but have also appropriated funds for the maintenance of the poor in those counties.
I would respectfully advise that the militia of Northumberland and Westmoreland be at once organized, sent to some other part of the Confederacy, and relieved by troops from elsewhere.
The impression is prevalent that the Northern Neck is to be abandoned. As commanding officer of that part of the country, the inhabitants look to me for protection. I do not wish to be placed in a false position. I have endeavored to quiet their apprehensions. Should the Confederacy wish to abandon the Neck, I would like to be informed at once. Two regiments could be readily and comfortably quartered there for the winter, and at the same time, by sending off this class of people, he will be actively guarding the country, and forcing into service those who have refused to volunteer, and who would undoubtedly join the enemy at the first opportunity.
Should the Rappahannock close during the winter, which is very likely to occur, then the enemy have it at their option to land from Chesapeake Bay, which will be open, and we cannot re-enforce.
It is due to the people, these who are supporting this war by direct taxation, by subscription, and in person, the their families should not be left at the mercy of these Northern Marauders.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. E. PICKETT,
Colonel, P. A. C. S.