MOUNT JACKSON, March 21, 1862.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding Department of Northern Virginia:
MY DEAR GENERAL: Yours of yesterday* is at hand.
Ashby reports that a reliable man from Strasburg this morning reports that Shields is in command there and that the Federals claim to have at that place 20,000, but that he does not believe that they exceed 10,000. This last I am of the opinion is a full estimate. He further states that they say that they intend pursuing me to Staunton.
From what I have seen of Federal prisoners their troops know but little respecting their destination.
My spies have not yet returned. The enemy do not appear to have committed depredations on their march. Their policy is conciliatory. My headquarters will be at or near Wodstock.
Very truly, yours,
T. H. JACKSON,
MOUNT JACKSON, VA., March 21, 1862.
Colonel S. BASSETT FRENCH:
COLONEL: Please request the Governor to order 3,000 muskets to Staunton, at this earliest convenience, for the militia of this district. None of the militia beyond this county, except 500 from Augusta, have yet arrived, but they are turning out encouragingly. There are three religious denominations in this military district who are opposed to war; eighteen were recently arrested in endeavoring to make their escape through Pendleton to the enemy. Those who do not desert will, to some extent, hire substitutes; others will turn out in obedience to the Governor's call, but i understand some of them say they will not "shoot". They can be made to fire, but they can very easily take bad aim. So, for the purpose of giving to the command the highest degree of efficiency and securing loyal feelings and co-operation, I have, as those non-combatants are said to be good and faithful to their promise, determined to organize the into companies of 100 each, rank file, and after mustering them with the legal number of company officers into service assign them to the various staff departments without issuing arms to them; but if at any time they have insufficient labor, to have them drilled, so that in case circumstances would justify it arms may be given them. If these men are, as represented to me, faithful laborers and careful of property, this arrangement will not only enable many volunteers to return to the ranks, but will also save many valuable horses and other public property in addition to arms. It may be that officers for these companies would be a useless expense. Please inform as to the Governor's decision as to whether it is obligatory on me to assign them officers. All I have pledged myself is that as far as practicable I will employ them in other ways than fighting, but with the condition that they shall act in good faith with me and not permit persons to use their names for the purpose of keeping out of service. Please direct you answer to Woodstock. I send this by express to Orange Court-House. Lest it should not reach you, a copy will be sent by mail via Staunton.
[T. J. JACKSON,