It has occurred to me as probable that for this purpose he has stripped his line between the Rappahannock Bridge and Manassas; if not, it must be so weakened that I hope a blow from the combined forces of yourself and General Jackson can destroy him. Should he have evacuated that region, and you are not required to oppose General Banks' column, by uniting such part of your force as can be spared with General Field, a successful blow might be struck at the enemy in front of Fredericksburg. At last accounts he had not crossed the Rappahannock nor repaired the bridges. * * *
Do you propose in that part of the above after "should he have evacuated that region, and you are not required to oppose," &c., that General Jackson, Field, and myself should unite, or only General Field and myself? As the preceding speaks of my combining with General Jackson, the latter portion would seem to contemplate the same combination. Do you propose in striking at the enemy in front of Fredericksburg (combining my force with General Field for that purpose) that he should be attacked from Fredericksburg or that the force should cross? I understand by the "Rappahannock bridge," in the first part of the above extract, the one on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Probably the above is set forth more fully in your letter to General Jackson which I sent on this afternoon; also it is likely or possible that the movements of the enemy may modify the whole matter. Still it is better to have it clear. I would be glad if you would explain whether you intend a combination with General Jackson in both cases, as seems to me most likely to be the case.
Firing (artillery) was heard this afternoon toward General Jackson's position beyond Swift Run Gap.
R. S. EWELL,
P. S.-I have withdrawn the regiment of infantry left at Rapidan on picket. There is now on that route (Orange and Alexandria Railroad) but the cavalry; three companies on the Rappahannock.
SWIFT RUN GAP, April 26, 1862.
Major General R. S. EWELL:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I am much obliged for the papers you sent me yesterday. Banks, at last accounts, was still at New Market with his main body. I am only about 16 miles from Fisher's Gap and 28 from New Market.
Do you make regular reports to General Johnston?
The general directed me to send communications for him to you.
Please acknowledge receipt of the accompanying one and let me know to what point you send it.
Very truly, yours,
T. J. JACKSON.
SWIFT RUN GAP, April 26, 1862-1.50 p. m.
MY DEAR GENERAL: Ashby writes me that he is falling back before a superior force of the enemy (infantry and cavalry).
The enemy, when he wrote, had advanced within about 7 miles of my