I can march two brigades to-night, with two days' rations in haversacks. I have a supply of beef for three days. I can be there before the hour designated. Will put my command in motion, leaving the wagons to be loaded when train arrives, leaving an escort to protect them when they follow me.
HEADQUARTERS, May 29, 1862.
Major-General SHIELDS, Rectortown, Va.:
How about the two remaining brigades? Have they supplies so as to follow with rations in the haversack, or can you not issue a plenty of fresh beef so as to get them along and have them, with your artillery, in supporting distance?
MAY 29, 1862.
Three of my brigades are here in hand. The Fourth Brigade has not yet been heard from. My artillery is all consolidated again. The forge is again at work - shoeing horses. If I had forage I could go forward to Front Royal immediately. It is only 20 miles distant. But for this accident to the commissary trains I could be in Front Royal to-night. If you can push forward the forage train and give me forage I can leave on its arrival.
RECTORTOWN, May 29,
If all this be true I see the necessity for immediate action.* I can be in Front Royal to-morrow night. As I may need my whole command, I hope you will send other troops to guard the railroad and depots between Manassas and Front Royal.
Geary's command is more than sufficient for this, and can only in this way be made useful. In any event they are making you scatter your command too much. If you could concentrate Ricketts' division at Front Royal while I follow the enemy north it will be able to support me.
I can give you more definite information from Front Royal, and I hope you will have sent forward repairers, with tools, to complete telegraph line to Front Royal by to-morrow night. Shall I make my medical depot at Manassas at present and send back my sick there?
Six pieces of ordnance for my division are reported to have arrived at Alexandria. Are they the Napoleon guns? Captain Ferguson, of Alexandria, seems to have charge of them. If they are the Napoleon guns, can I have them here by to-morrow morning? They would make
* Reference probably to McDowell's dispatch, p. 279.