Petersburg, Va., April 6, 1863-1 p. m.
Major General D. H. HILL, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: From your letter of the 4th instant I infer that your cavalry is picketing continually from roanoke to Wilmington. This, it seems to me, is superfluous labor. I should think three companies quite enough for General Whiting. Six ought to be enough at and around New Berne and three near Washington. Then a cavalry force-say Claiborne's regiment-in Bertie ought to be more than enough to watch that country while their horses are resting. The balance of the force ought to be kept at some suitable point for other operations and for foraging the animals. If, however, you cannot make such arrangements I must do without him. I am satisfied that we have a much greater cavalry force than the enemy. That being the case I cannot see how we should be obliged to use but part of a regiment on the other side of the Blackwater against two of the enemy. The enemy is reported to be ready to commence his attack upon Charleston, so he cannot re-enforce from that quarter. My move across the Blackwater will secure you against any re-enforcement from that quarter, so you will be free to operate with your other forces, which (not including Generals Garnett and Kemper) will exceed the force of the enemy. The two regiments at Hamilton ought to be enough to keep up your investment without Garnett, and they will then be in position to cut off any force that might be so indiscreet as to venture up to Weldon. You could at least keep the enemy inside his works and draw out the supplies from the eastern portion of the State. Your letter of the 2nd instant expressed confidence in entire success if you could get four other rifle guns. I ordered them to you at once, but you now say that nothing but heavy artillery will answer. I hope, therefore, that you will return the guns under Captain [James] Reilly to me at Franklin. I hope to cross the river on Saturday, and as they are the only long-range guns belonging to one of my divisions they will be essential to me. The enemy will surely be in condition to begin his operations on the Rappahannock in a month more, and we should at least be ready to defend in this department and re-enforce on the Rappahannock by that time. I was so much encouraged by your letter of the 2nd that I sent you the artillery that you called for and asked if the time (tow weeks) could be given you with garnett's and Kemper's brigades. From your letter of the 4th I conclude that it is still a matter of doubt whether you will then reduce the garrison at Washington. It must be better, therefore, for me to get my forces together at once and move across the Blackwater and secure such provisions and forage as may be in that portion of Virginia and North Carolina.
I remain, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
It may be that after I have finished on the other side that I can send you some other force, but I presume that I shall be obliged to return to the Rappahannock.
Petersburg, Va., April 6, 1863.
General D. H. HILL, Commanding:
GENERAL: In writing for the cavalry I only wanted such as would not be in use in your line as pickets. Three companies should go to