Fredericksburg, May 30, 1863.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS:
MR. PRESIDENT: I hope you received my reply to your dispatch of yesterday.
When in Richmond I gave General D. H. Hill discretionary instructions, stating my belief that the contest of the summer would take place in Virginia, to apportion his force to the strength of the enemy, and send me every man he could spare. He declined to act under those instructions and requested positive instructions. He now offers objections which if previously presented I should not have issued the latter. You will see that I am unable to operate under these circumstances, and request to be relieved from any operate under these circumstances, and request to be relieved from any control of the department form the James to the Cape Fear River. I have for nearly a month been endeavoring to get this army in a condition to move to anticipate an expected blow from the enemy. The enemy will either make a combined movement to force me back or transfer his army to the James River. If I was stronger I think I could prevent either and force him back.
You will perceive by the return of the 20th, forwarded to the Adjutant and Inspector General, the effective strength of the army. If I could use it altogether or had only to oppose General Hooker's army I should be content. But my wish has been to organize a force to defend Richmond against the army apparently collecting on the York River. I can get no positive information as to its strength. I have no knowledge of the scouts sent in that direction. General Longstreet when on the Blackwater sent a person to Washington. He could get no farther than Baltimore. No one but the military was allowed on the cars from Baltimore to Washington. He said while in Baltimore troops were constantly passing to Washington, said to be Mitchel's, from the West, going to General Hooker. At Old Point, on his return, he saw some of Foster's troops, and was informed that Generals Dix, Keyes, and Foster were at West Point. There were only three companies at Fort Monroe.
I receive this information with some allowance, but it may be taken as evidence that troops are being thrown into Virginia.
I only directed Ransom's brigade to be sent to Richmond; Jenkins' to Hanover Junction; Cooke's to wait till movements of the enemy could be further ascertained.
General Longstreet says Pickett has no brigade in the place of Jenkins'. He had temporarily a brigade formed of two regiments from General Sam. Jones and two from General Marshall. It was first under Pryor and afterward under Colston. Three of the regiments were sent back to the West; one is still in Petersburg, or rather one that was exchanged for it.
This army has been diminished since last fall by the brigades of Jenkins, Ransom, Cooke, and Evans. It has been increased by Pettigrew's. I consider Colquitt's exchanged for Daniel's. General Hill has retained in North Carolina a regiment from Pettigrew and Daniel. General Hooker's army, as far as I can form an opinion, has been increased.
I have given Your Excellency all the facts in my possession to enable you to form and opinion as to what is best to be done. I fear the time has passed when I could have taken the offensive with advantage. From the indications that reach me, the enemy is contemplating another movement. I have not discovered what it is. There may be nothing left for me to do but fall back. General Hill has in North Carolina Jenkins',