Alexandria Railroad, which they reached and tore up a portion of. The destruction of the road might have been caused by my having the bridge at Rappahannock Station reconstructed and a train of cars sent to Warrenton Junction during General Stuart's expedition. General Stuart captured over 200 prisoners, destroyed several wagons, cavalry camps, &c., and caused the destruction by the enemy of several depots of provisions on the routes.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
P. S. - All the detachments of the enemy toward the railroad have returned within their lines.
[JANUARY 3, 1863. - For Gist's report of movements to re-enforce Wilmington in December, 1862, see Series I, Vol. XIV, p. 741.]
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
Camp near Fredericksburg, Va., January 4, 1863
Major General GUSTAVUS W. SMITH,
Commanding, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 1st instant has been received. As you seem to be certain that the enemy are re-enforcing Suffolk and passing troops from that point to New Berne I would recommend that you collect a force at Goldsborough and within supporting distance of it adequate to oppose them. I do not think that the enemy can bring into the field in that region at present a large or stable force-their troops must be new and not very reliable-nor have they any officer there that I am aware of in whom much confidence is reposed by his Government. It is as impossible for him to have a large operating army at every assailable point in our territory as it is for us to keep one to defend it. We must move our troops from point to point as required, and by close observation and accurate information the true point of attack can generally be ascertained. I may be mistaken, but I have thought that the troops at your disposal ould be sufficient to drive back the threatened incursions of the enemy south of James River until he is re-enforced until he is re-enforced from some of his armies now in the field. General Burnside has all his army between Fredericksburg and Aquia Creek, with the addition of Sigel's corps. His own headquarters are near Brooke's Station, nor is there any indication of an embarkation or retrograde movement or going into winter quarters. I think it dangerous to diminish this army until something can be ascertained of the intentions of that opposed to it, and I hope you will be able by judicious arrangement and concentration of the troops under your command to protect the frontier line of North Carolina. Partial encroachments of the enemy we must expect, but they can always be recovered, and any defeat of their large army will reinstate everything. From information received from the Secretary of War I yesterday put Ransom's division in motion to Hanover Junction, and will continue him to Richmond unless I receive other information. You will find it necessary in North Carolina to dispose your troops so that they can march to the points