ceived. At that time there were not more than five or six steamers at Aquia and Potomac Creeks, and the number of vessels and transports passing up the Potomac is reported to be less than usual. I fear that the enemy, by a systematic propagation of falsehood, has been able to deceive us, and that the report of troops from Newport News going to North Carolina was purposely spread to conceal their movement west. The weather here is so bad as to preclude any military movement, and the enemy's pickets are so closely posted on their right, being within 50 steps of each other, that our scouts find it impossible to get within their lines, and we have to rely upon citizens, who are easily gulled. The ground is again covered with snow and a northeast rain is prevailing. The enemy's positions in North Carolina have always appeared to me to be taken for defense, and if driven from them they can easily escape to their gunboats. Unless therefore they will come out into the country I do not know how you can advantageously get at them. You will probably find Suffolk fortified as New Berne is. If the line you propose, cutting the Blackwater near Mayfield, is necessary to enable you to draw supplies from the counties east of the Chowan it becomes important, as those supplies are necessary to us. But except to draw provisions from North Carolina at this distance I do not see that you can accomplish much. You need not, however, be restrained by my operations, as at present I can do nothing. I cannot advance and the enemy will not, though all reports agree that he is ready to cross the Rappahannock and waits only for the weather. I fear you can expect no co-operation from the Navy, nor do I know that they can give any, as boats are not of a character to contend with the enemy's iron-clads.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
Petersburg, Va., March 4, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General:
GENERAL: I have the honor to send herewith a dispatch just received from Major General D. H. Hill. General Hill thinks, from the information that he has received, that the enemy may abandon his attack upon Charleston and concentrate for an attack upon Wilmington. In view of this I suggest that General Beauregard be advised to send back the forces to Wilmington, should he find the enemy moving back to that point. It is possible that the disaffection in the ranks of the enemy may force him to make some such effort. I shall not have the force to resist it without re-enforcements from Charleston. I shall leave for Goldsborough on the 6th if the intelligence is confirmed. Burnside's force must have been drawn from Newport News, but we have no information of a movement from that point.
I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Wilmington, N. C., March 4, 1863.
Commanding Department, Petersburg, Va.:
GENERAL: I have received your letter of the 2nd instant. From your postscript I perceive you are not acquainted with this vicinity and the