scouts. The Rapidan should be occupied by our pickets constantly, Vigorous and hold reconnaissance by our cavalry in small parties, moving in different directions without cessation, will best serve to harass our foe and develop his position and plans. With all possible precaution for safety it is still necessary to take some risks. We must be able in one way or another constantly to feel the enemy. Frequent change, both of position and forces on our part, will both deceive and deter. Do not allow our troops to stand for any length of time in the same condition. Thus "the people" can't avail themselves of their presence in our midst to carry intelligence to the enemy. They must not elude us if they desire it.
There is no general news more than you will find in the papers which I send. General Sigel desires you to send a cavalry scout in the direction of Madison. Do so as frequently as you can.
What do you think of the reports of contrabands of the evacuation of Richmond?
Very truly, yours,
N. P. BANKS,
HDQRS. SECOND CORPS, ARMY OF VIRGINIA,
July 31, 1862-10 a.m.
DEAR SIR: I received your very full report of the affairs at the front with great satisfaction.* We are sometimes puzzled by the introduction of new local names of places. If you can occasionally explain the position of these places as they occur in the development of new positions it will aid us here. Your last was very full and satisfactory in this respect, and has occasioned this reminder and acknowledgment. I fear our forces are too cautious in their movements. Precaution is necessary, but some risks must be assumed. Frequent changes in the position and number of our troops and constant and hold scouts in parties sometimes large and sometimes small will intimidate the enemy and disturb him more than regular warfare.
We must constantly feel the enemy, know where he is, and what he is doing. To this end permanent positions of our troops must be avoided, whether large or small, and the enemy harassed by the uncertainty as well as the persistency and constancy of our scouting parties.
The Rapidan should be constantly guarded as a sort of scouting base of operations. Vigilance, activity, and a precaution that has a considerable mixture of audacity in it will carry you through many difficulties. There is a splendid opportunity for well-mounted cavalry. Communicate with General Crawford on this subject. We must not let the enemy elude us if we can help it. Your reports give us great satisfaction. The more the better.
Our troops will assemble to-morrow at 10.30 a.m. to hear the President's order read on the death of President Van Buren.
N. P. BANKS,
* Not found.