Fredericksburg, May 20, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: The services of General Longstreet will be required with this army. Upon his leaving the department south of James River I had supposed its command would have devolved upon General D. H. Hill as the senior major-general. He informed me this morning that he directed the three major-generals in command of the several districts to report directly to the War Department. I would recommend, therefore, that General D. H. Hill be assigned to the command of the department between James River and the Cape Fear. The battery at Drewry's Bluff, if considered more convenient, could be embraced within the command of General Elzey. I wish General Hill to make such disposition of his troops as to give me all the force that can be spared from North Carolina. Jenkins' brigade, belonging to Pickett's division, is still on the Blackwater, and I do not like to order it up until I hear whether proper dispositions are made or relieve it. It is much wanted with its division. Our scouts report that General Heintzelman, with his corps from Washington, has joined General Hooker, Governor Curtin having promised to defend Washington City with 20,000 State troops. I have not heard yet of any fleet of transports ascending the Potomac. Single transports are frequently seen coming up the river. Yesterday forty transports were counted at Aquia Creek. Regiments of the two years' men are being discharged, I learn, as their time expires, and it is thought are sent off at night.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
May 20, 1863.
Major General ARNOLD ELZEY,
Commanding Department of Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: A party of deserters from the North Carolina regiments of this army left camp last night, taking their arms and equipments with them. Some of them are supposed to be making for Ashe County, North Carolina, and many, it is said, cross the James River at Lumberton, about 45 miles above Richmond, and Roanoke at Horse Ford Mill. General Lee directs me to request that your guards be instructed to be on the alert for them, and if practicable the points indicated be watched and guarded.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. TAYLOR,