nity of dealing a damaging blow, or of driving him from any important positions, do not be idle, but act promptly. If circumstances render it impossible or disadvantageous for you to rejoin this army when attacked we must withdraw toward you, if we cannot resist alone.
In operating against any point accessible to the enemy's gunboats be prepared for them. I am confident that at all times and in all places you will do all that can be done for the defense of the country and advancement of the service, and are ready to co-operate or act singly as circumstances dictate. I only wish you therefore to keep me advised of your movements that I may shape mine accordingly, and not to feel trammeled in your operations other than is required by the general plan of operations when an opportunity offers for you to advance the object of the campaign.
I am, with great respect, very truly, yours,
R. E. LEE,
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
Raleigh, N. C., March 21, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: Yours of 7th instant, inclosing letters from Lieutenant-Colonel Cook and General Jones, in relation to impressment of forage by a detachment of General Jenkins' cavalry, has been received. I am sorry to see that the charge of impressment is denied upon the authority of Sergeant Hale. The concurrent testimony of the citizens of about twenty counties with at least fifty letters to that effect in my office would seem to be sufficient to establish a fact of general notoriety. Those men were in several detachments, operating in as many different counties, and Sergeant Hale hardly could know what they were all doing at the same time. Their method was to go to a farmer's house and tell him they wanted corn at $ 1.50 per bushel, and if he did not sell it they would take it. In some instances their quartermaster attended public sales and publicly notified the assemblage (most of them families of absent soldiers) that they need not bid for the corn; that they were determined to have it. Yielding where resistance would have been useless they (the cavalry) took the corn at such price as they saw proper to pay, and this is not impressment! I beg leave also to assure you that the imputations indulged in by General Jones and Lieutenant-Colonel Cook against the loyalty of the people of that region (I suppose also upon the authority of Sergeant Hale) are entirely without foundation in fact, the refusal to take Confederate money, if such was the case, originating solely in the fact that they did not have the corn to sell. Neither North Carolina money nor gold could buy an article which was not in the country. That country, to my personal knowledge, may safely challenge any similar region in the South to show a better muster-roll in the army. But that is not the matter at issue. I complain that a large body of broken-down cavalry horses are in North Carolina, eating up the subsistence of the people in a region desolated by drought and reduced to the verge of starvation; impressing it at prices about one-half the market rates. The people or the horses must suffer. I ask for the removal of the horses. Is it denied or refused? That is the question. I beg leave to disabuse your mind of the impression which it seems to entertain, that I objected to these impressments be