have sent it without my signature. The fact is there is considerable annoyance and difficulty to encounter with this command, and I scarcely have a moment's leisure from morning until night.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. CALVIN COUNCIL,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Post.
Chaffin's Farm, Va., December 12, 1862.
Lieutenant Colonel [J. C.] COUNCIL,
COLONEL: Your movement to meet the enemy is approved. I have no doubt the negroes are inconstant and regular communication with the enemy, and it may be that the latter, whenever they desire to disappoint your movements or to make their won unmolested will cause the former to give it out that they are coming upon a given day. I suggest that you might possibly deceive the deceivers sometimes by going, seeming to return to your camp, and going back to your advance openly if I could do it by night or stealthily at any time. By watchfulness you can catch them certainly. Is Sherman's Mill not too far off for the infantry to aid your cavalry? I would advance them to Diascund Bridge at least, or not at all, whenever I expected the enemy to come up. It is desirable to have conscripts arrested and made to serve as well as deserters. Have every one you can reach arrested and sent to Richmond.
Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Harrison, of the Fourth, informed me to-day that his farther has, he supposes, 500 barrels of corn, which is being gathered at the place called the Row, below the Charles City Court-House. I suggested that it would be best to haul the corn in the shucks to your camp at the forge or Sherman's. It would save the labor of shucking to the farm and would give you both long and short forage, and the corn would be cheaper and more compact to haul than corn and shucks apart. He seemed willing to sell in that way, and promised me to write to you. I would not wait to hear from him, but would send at once all my wagons and stop the shucking of the corn. Even at near the same price you would save all wastage by shelling in hauling.
Let a courier's post be established at Gill & Ladd's shop. You will send a trusty trooper two there. You will observe that Robertson's cavalry, at the suggestion of General Smith, are to be kept separate and apart from Shingler's. This, I understood, was to prevent Major Robertson from taking command of the whole cavalry. Major Robertson is to be kept as a kind of reserve. I am sure I inserted this in your orders. Let the respective corps report to you separately. Whenever they are called to act together in marches or service the ranking officer will of course then, under your orders, command.
I have ordered forms of company morning reports to be forwarded to you.
Your force is stronger than I supposed, and with a good supply of forage on hand I shall expect you to advance whenever you can or whenever the enemy threatens. I recommend you by all means to reach down as far as you safely can after forage. My scouts' last reports from far down James River are that there is no appearance as yet of any gunboats coming up the river. The enemy have in the last two days crossed the Rappahannock below Fredericksburg.