Every effort, however, will be made to acquire every advantage which our position and means my warrant. One great embarrassment is the reduction of our ranks by straggling, which it seems impossible to prevent with our present regimental officers. Our ranks are very much diminished-I fear from a third to one-half of the original number-though I have reason to hope that our casualties in battles will not exceed 5,000 men.
I am glad to hear that the railroad bridge over the Rapidan is in a fair way to completion. I fear all the locomotives and cars captured at Bristoe and Manassas have been destroyed either by the enemy or ourselves. As I before stated, having only Jackson's and Longstreet's corps in the battle of Manassas, I was unable to spare men to save property, though I knew and felt its value.
I fear there was much suffering among the vaunted, but it was impossible to prevent it. Dr. Guild, the medical director, with detachments from each brigade, was left upon the field and all the wounded committed to his care. All the means of transportation at our command were given to him, including the wagons, with directions that the wounded must receive the first attention and be sent to Warrenton. They were ordered to be forwarded thence to Gordonsville as fast as possible, and as they were able to bear the transportation.
Only one regiment of cavalry is in front of Warrenton, and that I fear my necessities will oblige me to withdraw. Unless General Smith can organize a force, and advance it, of sufficient strength to cover that section of country, it will be liable to raids from Washington and Alexandria by the enemy's cavalry. It is a risk we must necessarily run to use the troops elsewhere.
With sincere wished for your health and prosperity, I am, most respectfully and truly, yours,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
Hagerstown, Md., September 13, 1862.
Major-General MCLAWS, Commanding Division, &c.:
GENERAL: General Lee desires me to say that he has not heard from you since you left the main body of the army. He hopes that you have been able to reach your destined position. He is anxious that the object of your expedition be speedily accomplished. The enemy
have doubtless occupied Frederick since our troops have abandoned it, and retreated to Harper's Ferry, about 2,500 or 3,000 strong. General Jackson will be at Harper's Ferry by noon to-day to co-operate with you. General Stuart, with his cavalry, occupies the Middletown Valley. General D. H. Hill is a mile or two west of Boonsborough, at the junction of the Sharpsburg and hagerstown roads, and General Longstreet is at hagerstown. You are particularly desired to watch well the main road from Frederick to harper's Ferry, so as to prevent the enemy from turning your position. The commanding general hopes that the enemy about Harper's Ferry will be speedily disposed of, and the various detachments returned to the main body of the army. You are also desired to communicate as frequently as you can with headquarters.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. L. LONG,
Colonel and Military Secretary.