HEADQUARTERS VALLEY DISTRICT,
Near Woodstock, March 27, 1862-10 a. m.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I have received your two dispatches of yesterday*. The enemy are still at Strasburg, and I see no indication of an advance. Should an advance be made and I fall back beyond New Market, I will move on the Gordonsville road.
The line of couriers will be re-examined. this end of the line is right and if the other is not soon arranged as it should be please let me know what change is required. I will try and draw the enemy on, but do not except to succeed.
yesterday a gentleman who had been with the Northern Army for months joined me, and states that Banks crossed about 22,000 men at Harper's Ferry to this side, and that they moved to the vicinity of Winchester.
On last Sunday the force at Snicker's Ferry was about 15,000-not over 16,000. This force was part of Bank's old command. At present Shields is under Banks. On last Friday Sedgwick's (late Stone's) division was at Bolivar, and one of the colonels said that they were waiting for the boats to be in readiness either at Annapolis or Washington; that they were going to McClellan. Their destination, or that of McClellan, was supposed to be Aquia Creek or York River. That McClellan had been relieved as commander-in-chief and had gone down the Potomac. His force is not over 85,000 or 90,000, though the enemy estimates it as high as 150,000. McClellan has the best troops in the Federal service, and the North expects him to take Richmond; that nothing less will satisfy them, and that Richmond is his proposed destination. My informant saw Banks at Strasburg at 10 a. m. yesterday. His force there consists of-
Colonel Kimball's brigade, which is: Fourth Ohio, Sixth Ohio, Sixty-seventh Ohio, and Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania.
General Sullivan's brigade: Fifth Ohio, Sixty-second Ohio, Sixty-sixth Ohio, Thirty-third Iowa, and Thirty-ninth Illinois.
General Tyler's brigade: Seventh Ohio, Twenty-ninth Ohio, Seventh Iowa, First Virginia, and One hundred and tenth Pennsylvania.
That the regiments probably number 800 for duty on an average, but not more. This give 11,200 infantry.
Yesterday morning Banks went in the direction of the burnt railroad bridge, which is toward Front Royal, and was inquiring about bridge timber. The railroad agent at Strasburg was with him; I designed arresting the agent, but the eluded me. The Strasburg force is of Shields' and Williams' division. The railroad agent said to Banks that there was some rolling stock in the direction of Alexandria, which had been taken from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and there was one freight engine and several cars in this direction. The impression produced in the mind of my information was that Banks designed rebuilding the railroad bridge and move by railroad such troops from Strasburg as could be spared. It is understood in the Federal Army that you have instructed me to keep the forces now in this district and not permit them to cross the Blue Ridge, and that this must be done at every hazard, and that for the purpose of effecting this I had made the attack. I have never so much as intimated such a thing to any one. General Gordon's brigade, which was brought back from Snicker's Ferry last Sunday, was still