Court-House, then to Swift Run Gap, I should lose considerable distance.
I could follow a good road from here to Madison Court-House without crossing the Rapidan, thence to Swift Run Gap. to cross the Rapidan, then come back to Madison Court-House to Swift Run Gap would be our of the way.
To prevent mistakes, if I move before hearing from you, i. e. to-day or to-morrow, I will not cross the Rapidan, but go on the good and direct road to Swift Run Gap.
When you answer this tell me your views as to my going from here direct to Madison Court-House, and thence to Swift Run Gap without crossing the Rapidan. I write thus that there may be no doubt as to my road. There is no question that hence direct to Madison Court-House and to Swift Run Gap is the shortest. The position of the enemy may modify it. If you think it advisable, I will follow that route after to-day and to-morrow when I move, not crossing the Rapidan. By the inclosed sketch you will see I cannot cross the Rapidan and them back to Madison Court-House. The sketch is from my map.
The enemy have not repaired the railroad in front; have fallen back several miles, and are in much less force-not over one brigade. Prisoners say they are marching to Strasburg. They were at Salem. It overs say they are marching to Strasburg. They were at Salem. It was a false report that they were moving a column between this and Sperryville. The prisoners say they are going against you.
Blenker's and Geary's columns number about 10,000 horse and foot and about eighteen pieces of artillery. Twelve pieces were seen, and counted. Their troops are very much scattered and demoralized, are ill-treating the people, robbing and stealing and wantonly killing all the stock. They are chiefly Dutch. Were you to come through the mountains and attack Bleker's force we would find them scattered and cut up, and it would cause Banks to clear the valley. Some of our cavalry caught a party of their men, and thinking you were advancing they fell back precipitately. Only three-months' men are in the district. Very few troops between this and there. Such a move would embarrass the attack of McClellan. Blenker's men are deserting; those I have seen are stupid, ignorant Dutch. These people are committing more wanton injury than they did in the Mexican war, and are as cowardly as villainous. I doubt even if they intend, when united, to attack you.
To recapitulate: If I move to-day or to-morrow, i. e. before hearing more from you on the route, I will go to Madison Court-House; thence to Swift Run Gap. After hearing from you it will depend upon what you say as to my route. I shall send an officer over the route to-day.
R. S. EWELL,
P. S.- News has not changed since I wrote, except that Pulaski has surrendered. "Nobody hurt."
FREDERICKSBURG, VA., April 13, 1862.
GENERAL: General Pettigrew's brigade is still here. There is nothing new at all. A deserter from Sickles' brigade, brought in by my pickets yesterday, says that there are but two regiments left on the