ascertained that the enemy has evacuated Winchester and the adjacent country, or has only small forces there, the troops at Harper's Ferry (with the exception of 2,000 or 3,000 men acting as a garrison) could take possession of Winchester and advance up the Shenandoah Valley to Mount Jackson, while our right wing would march from Front Royal to Luray, Craigsville, and Madison, and our main army to Culpeper. From Culpeper and Madison Court-House we would advance against Orange Court-House and Gordonsville or Charlottesville, and, if victorious, continue our advance to Columbia or Goochland Court-House, on James River. Our object would now be to throw forward strong parties to destroy the railroad lines south of James River, thereby really separating the Army of Richmond from the Army of the West. If, at the same time, a diversion could be made in North Carolina, to take possession of Raleigh and Weldon, and a demonstration from Fortress Monroe, on the James River, against City Point and Petersburg, the enemy would be forced out of Richmond, to give us battle or to look out for more southern quarters.
11th. It seems to me that the line of Culpeper-Gordonsville is the best line of operation under the present circumstances, although the line from Fredericksburg to Sexton's Junction and Richmond is naturally shortest, yet this is not really so, if we consider that our army would be detained before the intrenchments of Richmond, now probably strengthened by a second and more exterior line of defense. (Such, at least, is the report we receive by reliable persons.) Besides this, our army could not well advance from Fredericksburg to Richmond, leaving the enemy's main army at Gordonsville, and having a strongly intrenched city in front. It is also evident that a direct advance upon Richmond, by way of Fredericksburg, would leave the greatest part of Virginia under the control of the enemy, and would not separate his armies of the east and west, while an advance upon Gordonsville would force them to fight at that point, or to retreat either toward Richmond or Lynchburg. In case of a retreat to Richmond, he loses a most important communication with the west (Kentucky); in case of a retreat toward Lynchburg, he leaves a large space between his army and Richmond exposed to our attacks from Fredericksburg and the sea-coast.
12th. Once in possession of Gordonsville, and advancing a small corps from Fredericksburg toward Bowling Green, we would transport one portion of our supplies from Fredericksburg to Orange Court-House.
13th. Aquia Creek and the line of the Rappahannock, near Fredericksburg, could be occupied by new troops, who would protect our supplies and form a reserve force of the army.
With great respect, I am, your most obedient servant,
[Signal dispatch. Received November 13,-4.45 p.m.]
General Ferrero reports the enemy as driving in our pickets. Captain Rawolle, of General Sturgis' staff, reports, through an orderly, that a section of artillery and three squadrons of cavalry are advancing toward Warrenton Springs.