miles from here. He has made no report this morning. I am waiting for one. Should have moved to-day towards the Rapidan but for the necessity of sustaining him and avoiding the appearance to the men of falling back from the enemy..
I shall cross and be in condition to co-operate with you as soon as this railroad-worse than that at Harper's Ferry-will get off our stores..
Tell General H. not to have a depot at Fredericksburg. Depots should never be on a defensible frontier. Let him attend to that immediately..
J. E. JOHNSTON..
RAPPAHANNOCK BRIDGE, March 15, 1862-4 p. m..
MY DEAR GENERAL: The sentence of mine upon which you note the letter brought and delivered to me an hour ago is evidently incomplete, if you quote correctly. In sending you to Fredericksburg it seems to me that I indicated in general such principles as you advocate in your three letters which I have received here. The plan with which I left Manassas was mu like that which you proposed a day or two ago. I have been delayed here by anxiety to lose or destroy no more public property and to secure in this rich neighborhood something that otherwise the enemy would get possession of. Perhaps I have been too confident of the slothful condition of our adversaries..
We may be required by the Government to place ourselves within striking distance of the armies of Yorktown and Norfolk. Jackson is compelled to abandon Winchester. He has a very large force in his front. The presence of such a force in front of our left makes it not impossible that this force may be united with the center, and advance, repairing the railroad. We ought, therefore, to be placed so as to be able to unite against the enemy's left upon the Fredericksburg route, or near this route, against his main body. "Ought not to be near Fredericksburg" should have been written "to near," merely as a matter of discipline..
Should a landing be threatened on the south shore of the Rappahannock, a line farther back would be necessary..
Stuart, 2 miles this side of Cedar Run, reports the enemy in force in his front on that stream, with skirmishers deployed on the farther bank, and looking for fords. Jackson, by last accounts, dated yesterday (a mistake probably), was at Strasburg..
I cannot see the merit of a depot of importance at Fredericksburg. I think that I have said this once, but keeping no copies of letters to my friends, I don't know. The depot ought to be emptied forthwith. Tell General Holmes so for me. I am trammeled now by having a reserve supply at Culpeper Court-House; but for it I should have been ere now much nearer to you..
J. E. JOHNSTON..
RICHMOND, VA., March 16, 1862.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON:.
GENERAL: Holmes reports that Hooker's division has crossed the Potomac and occupying Dumfries, Occoquan, Evansport, and the Chopawamsic, where crossed by the Telegraph road..
A column from Manassas occupies Brentsville, he thinks. .