Should an advance be contemplated from the Rappahannock it would require some time to assemble a sufficient force. In that event the courses you suggest seems to me the only one we can pursue. I will endeavor to keep you advised of the progress of events north of this place. I will follow your suggestions when any important dispatch is forwarded to you by telegraph. I directed the Quartermaster-General this morning to have the bridge on the Chickahominy repaired. I have heard of no boats going up the bay from Fort Monroe but two steamers and twenty sail vessels. I presume they were going for provisions, and thought probably their object to be seizure of corn from the counties bordering on the Rappahannock.
My last accounts from General Jackson were dated 21st. He was then at Swift Run Gap. Ewell had reached Gordnosville. I have heard nothing of the further advance of the enemy in that valley nor of the junction of Jackson and Ewell.
Field's position, as far as I understand it, is on Ta River, where it is crossed by the Telegraph road, about 13 miles this side of Fredericksburg. His cavalry was advanced to within 4 miles of Fredericksburg.
I neglected to mention that the only troops that I have heard of having left New Berne was General Reno's brigade, of five regiments, who landed at Elizabeth City, on the Pasquotank, with a view of destroying the lock of the canal to prevent our iron-clad boats from Norfolk reaching Albemarle Sound. They were met at South Mills by the Thirteenth Georgia, Colonel Wright, and McComas' light battery, and driven back with loss, burning the bridges in their rear, taking to their boats, and departing. We captured considerable ammunition, some arms,&c., but I regret to add that Captain McComas fell while gallantly fighting his battery.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS, Lee's Farm, April 23, 1862.
The capture of a Yankee colonel and a major at Lee's Mill, immediately in front of our position, at the head of their regiment, indicates that re-enforcements are being sent against Lee's Mill. From another prisoner captured to-day and from other sources I gain information that satisfies me that the principal body of the enemy's troops are massed in your front for several miles in depth. I believe the attack will take place to-morrow morning or some time during the day.
Should the enemy make an attack to-morrow morning at or before daylight you will not exchange the regiments from General McLaws' division for those ordered to be relieved, to wit, Levy's, Fifteenth North Carolina, and Taylor's Kentucky, but will fight the battle with the latter, sending the regiments from General McLaws' division without delay back to General McLaws. Relief will be afforded later in the day.
Since communicating with you in regard to the artillery, information has been received that the Washington Artillery will not be sent. I have therefore ordered Captain Richardson's enfilading battery of 32-pounder