alry and some of my infantry, with complete success on our part. The enemy appearing to be advancing in force, I fell back across the river, burned all the bridges, and retired from the town. As far as accurately ascertained about one brigade is the estimated force, but it is thought that symptoms, such as fires in the interior, indicate more. A prisoner taken (mortally wounded and died in a few hours) made a statement confirming this, though another one gave accounts of much larger force.
My future movements will now depend upon yours. I hope through scouts and other means to get more accurate information in the course of the day. If you carry out the plan of joining General Jackson, the probability is that I shall soon have to fall still farther back. If not, and you propose any other movement, I will co-operate in anything you suggest. Please inform me speedily what your course will be.
I am, general,
CHAS. W. FIELD.
Richmond, Va., April 19, 1862.
Brigadier General C. W. FIELD,
Commanding,& c., near Fredericksburg, Va.:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 17th instant is received.* I desire that you shall do everything in your power to prevent the enemy from advancing from Fredericksburg or making that place a base. I shall order to Hanover Junction to support you, in such manner as you may direct, two local regiments of artillery, armed and serving as infantry, a field battery, and a body of horse. I have received information, obtained from a wounded prisoner, that the enemy's force at Fredericksburg consisted of one regiment of cavalry about 500 strong, one regiment of infantry, and two batteries of artillery, and that their entire force on the Lower Potomac is less than 5,000. You will use every exertion to ascertain the strength and movements of the enemy and keep me informed of the same. You will also communicate with General Ewell as to the movements of the enemy, in order that in case of necessity that officer may send you re-enforcements if it be in his power. I desire also that you will render all the assistance you can in obstructing the Rappahannock River below Fredericksburg, to prevent the ascent of the enemy's boats. I am informed by the Secretary of the Navy that some naval officers have been sent to the Rappahannock for that purpose, and also to provide fire-ships to oppose the enemy. You will also watch closely any movements of the enemy from Urbana or Rappahannock in the direction of West Point or the Pamunkey River. Should such an attempt be made you will do everything in your power to prevent it. I call your attention particularly to the importance of exercising the utmost caution in destroying the railroad and bridges. This should not be done except as a measure of extreme necessity, as great injury may result from our advance being retarded or prevented. In connection with the subject of preventing the enemy's boats from ascending the Rappahannock, I am informed to-day that there are six tug-boats off Urbana, two very large, moving up the river.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
* Not found.
28 R R - VOL XII