gades on the Rappahannock at any moment, but think that the enemy will not be able to make a move there before April 10. I hope that you may be able to reduce the garrisons at Washington and New Berne before that time, the former at least. If you deem the latter not advisable, return the two brigades of General Pickett's division as soon as you have accomplished the former and gotten out the meat supplies. I do not expect you to take Washington, of course, if it is found to be more difficult than you anticipated. Exercise your own good judgment in the matter. The important question is to draw in all of the meat rations that can be had. I have already written you not to confine yourself strictly to the prices fixed by the Subsistence Department if you find that a higher price will facilitate your operations. Every vehicle in the country should be put in use and at liberal rates of transportation so as to haul in supplies for our armies. I wish you would advise me of the probable quantity of meat that you may be able to get as soon as you can get the proper data. We may have to make an advance move up here so as to get out the supplies from the counties east of the Chowan. If you are likely to get enough from Hyde, & c., the latter move will not be necessary. I hope that my Whitworth gun has reached you ere this. The party is tolerably well experienced in the use of it.
I remain, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS, March 24, 1863.
General R. E. LEE, Commanding, & c.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose a report of Major Moses on the subject of subsistence for our armies. He has just returned from a tour through Virginia and North Carolina and from a visit to the Commissary-General. This report is the result of his observations. The particular counties referred to by him as containing abundant supplies for our armies are now in the enemy's lines. We can occupy that country and draw the supplies out with another division of my old corps, but I do not think it would be prudent to attempt such a move with a less force. The divisions of Generals Pickett and Hood, with one other brigade (Davis'), are all the troops that I can command for this service. The enemy has at Suffolk and in supporting distance 27,000 men - 21,000 that came down from General Hooker's army and 6,000 that were at Suffolk before. I think that a move against Suffolk would draw off re-enforcements from General Hooker's army unless we can act promptly enough to prevent it. I submit the case for your determination. If we can supply our army otherwise the expedition should not be made. If it is a case of necessity we should lose no time. I fear that our necessities may be exposed by the expeditions that are now out in Eastern North Carolina for the same purpose, and when it becomes known to the enemy he will make a great effort to prevent us from moving to those important counties. If we find it necessary to make this move I desire to have a consultation with you before it sets out.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,