War of the Rebellion: Serial 018 Page 0836 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., AND MD Chapter XXIV.

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Richmond, Va., March 22, 1862.

Brigadier General HENRY HETH,

Commanding, &c., Lewisburg, Va.:

GENERAL: Your letter of the 18th instant has been received, and I regret to learn the small amount of troops under your command. The battery of four field pieces, with ammunition, will be sent to you as soon as possible. i understand you have already a company organized to serve them.

I see no prospect of sending you more artillery at this time, as it is in great demand, and organized companies all through the Confederacy are waiting to be supplied. I think it probable that the enemy will advance as soon as he can upon the routes designated by you, and you must endeavor to oppose and arrest his progress by every means in your power. By seizing the strong points of the road through which he may pass, your small force will be very efficacious, and I recommend that you have the routes examined by an intelligent officer, points selected where you would make a stand, and breastworks laid out, and, if possible, erected by the citizens in the vicinity.

The call of the militia under the Governor's proclamation will enable you to fill your Virginia companies to 100 each. I am endeavoring to call your aid volunteers from the tier of counties along and east of the railroad, which are not included in those enumerated in the call to rendezvous at your headquarters, and some arms have been obtained with which to arm them. You must do all in your power to facilitate this movement. Should you not be able to resist the force of the enemy you must retard his advance as far as you can, keeping in his front and falling back on the route he may choose toward the railroad.

The points you have selected to defend the approaches to Dublin Depot and Wytheville are, as far as far as my knowledge extends, the strongest for your purpose, and if you can improve them by article defenses, as above stated, it would be advisable. The condition of the roads in that section of the country will, I hope, still give you some time for preparation.

Every effort will be made to send you additional troops, but your plan of operations had better be based upon those have and those you can rely upon.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,


STRASBURG, March 23, 1862-6.50 a. m.


Commanding Department of Northern Virginia:

MY DEAR GENERAL: With the blessing of an ever-kind Providence I hope to be in the vicinity of Winchester this evening.

Ashby last evening had a skirmish this side of Winchester. Nothing from you since that dated the 20th.

Very truly, yours,