Richmond, Va., September 27, 1862.
Major General S. G. FRENCH,
Commanding Dept. of North Carolina, Petersburg, Va.:
GENERAL: Your report of movements in the direction of Suffolk and the causes which induced you to suspend operations was duly received. You acted wisely in returning under the circumstances as developed; there was too great doubt of success to justify an engagement in that quarter at this time.
I received your note of the 23rd, inclosing pencil report of agent from Suffolk. It seems to have been delivered to the Secretary of War, and by him banded to General Magruder to be given to me. Magruder did not meet me, and forgot the note. Not having heard from you since, I infer that the report has not been confirmed. I think it important that you should as far as [practicable] and consistent with other duties and necessities hold your forces in North Carolina in condition and position to move promptly in this direction at any and all times. General Lee is far off, and we may be called upon suddenly without aid from him to repel an attack in force. The Secretary of War has several times suggested the withdrawal of Major Burroughs' companies of cavalry. He intends uniting [them] with others upon this side and forming a regiment. I request that you at the earliest moment have these Virginia companies under Major Burroughs relieved by other cavalry and ordered to report to Major Melton, adjutant-general of my command, in this city. We have found here large numbers of men left behind, sick or unfit to march, in the different camps at the time General Lee's forces left. These men have been collected and sent forward to their commands. I would be glad if any such remain in your vicinity to have you collected and organize them in detachments, under control of officers and non-commissioned officers, and send them forward by the cars. On arriving here they will be taken charge of by Colonel Walker's guard, which is under General [Winder], and dispatched to Winchester.
Large quantities of arms, clothing, tents, * * * the camps in this vicinity, and I presume something of the same kind, but to a less extent, occurred near Petersburg; if so, have measures taken to remedy the evil. I hope that you are getting the detached companies and irregular forces into satisfactory shape.
Have you heard from Colonel J. O. Long, sent to inspect Partisan Rangers in Western North Carolina?
Respectfully and truly, yours,
G. W. SMITH,
I have just received your note of this morning since writing the above.
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
Raleigh, N. C., September 28, 1862.
General GUSTAVUS W. SMITH,
Commanding Department of North Carolina:
GENERAL: I learn that the troops (cavalry) in Eastern North Carolina are to be brigaded, which is proper enough; but the very first order calls all of them to Garysburg, leaving the whole coast of North