ceived. All things considered I now think that our better plan would have been to fight the enemy on the Rappahannock with the force that you have there, or slightly diminished even, and to leave the force that was here to drive back the enemy in North Carolina and draw out the supplies there. I cannot divest myself of the opinion that an obstinate resistance on the Rappahannock will hold that line, and the force that I had here would then do to drive the enemy out of North Carolina, where it seems we must get our supplies. With the force left here by the withdrawal of Hood's division nothing can be done more than to hold our fortified positions and railroads, and the latter is somewhat doubtful. If it is necessary to give ground anywhere it seems to me that it would have been better to retire your force across the Anna, and to keep possession of all that part of North Carolina where we may be able to get supplies. From your report of the scarcity of supplies with you I fear that Hood's division may be more than you can supply, and I doubt if it can reach you in time by marching. I shall therefore try and have it sent by railroad, unless I get authority by telegraph to stop it. I shall go to Richmond this afternoon and await there further intelligence.
I remain, general, your most obedient servant,
P. S. - The enemy is re-enforcing at New Berne and at Suffolk. His intentions it is presumed are to make diversions on both points when he moves to cross the Rappahannock. Success at either point will be pushed, of course, unless he fails again on the Rappahannock.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA,
March 18, 1863.
Major General D. H. HILL,
Commanding, & c., Goldsborough, N. C.:
GENERAL: The commanding general has received your letter of last night. He leaves this afternoon for Richmond. He wrote you fully this morning, and the letter is sent you with this. By his direction I have telegraphed you that you might go as you propose and use Ransom's brigade. I have also telegraphed to General Whiting to respond to your call for that brigade. The enemy seems to be pressing on the Rappahannock. It looks as if a battle must soon be fought there.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. MOXLEY SORREL,
HEADQUARTERS, March 18, 1863.
Major General D. H. HILL:
GENERAL: I have just received a letter from General Lee, calling for Hood's division back upon the Rappahannock. The enemy is reported across with cavalry and artillery at Kelly's Ford and attempting with infantry at United States Ford. General Lee calls for myself also and Pickett's division. The latter, I think, cannot be spared; at all events not till we ascertain what is likely to be the disposition of the force lately held at Newport News. I shall start back to Rappahannock