HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
Camp on Washington Run, Va., September 28, 1862.
His Excellency President DAVIS,
Mr. PRESIDENT: From information received, I believe General McClellan is concentrating his army in the direction of Harper's Ferry. The mass is on the Maryland shore, but a large body, variously estimated, and from the best intelligence believed to be 15,000 or more, is on this side of the river. In addition, the Maryland Heights, on the left bank of the Potomac, and the Loudoun Heights, on the right, are strongly occupied. Timber for the reconstruction of the bridges over the Potomac is being transported from Baltimore, and every preparation seems to be in progress for the permanent occupation of that point. Not deeming it prudent, as explained in my letter of the 25th instant, to re-enter Maryland, in order to be prepared for any flank movement the enemy might attempt, the army took a position higher up the Opequon, and now rests between the waters of Mill Creek and Lick river. I hope the returns to be made on the 30th instant will show an increase of its strength; still, there are many stragglers out, who persistently elude the search of the cavalry, and many have gone beyond our reach. We get plenty of flour from the mills in the vicinity, and have an abundance of beef. The supply of forage is not so ;plentiful, and our horses have been so reduced by labor and scant food that, unless their condition can be improved before winter, I fear many of them will die. Rest would be extremely advantageous to men and horses, and yet I see no way of affording it. History records but few examples of a greater amount of labor and fighting than has been done by this army during the present campaign. If arrangements could be made to pay the arrearage due the troops, and furnish them with clothes, shoes, and blankets, we could yet accomplish a great deal this fall. The number of barefooted men is daily increasing, and it pains me to see them limping over the rocky roads.
There is nothing of interest to report, but I desire to keep you always advised of the condition of the army, its proceedings, and prospects.
I am, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
RICHMOND, September 28, 1862.
General R. E. LEE:
Soon after the receipt of yours of the 7th instant, I sent to the two houses of Congress a message, recommending the establishment of a commission of each army in the field, and that, in addition to the ordinary form of a court-martial, it should, as an inferior court, have jurisdiction of crimes not defined in the articles of war. Your letter has been read to many members of each house, who have called upon me for explanation or information, and there was reason to hope that a law would have passed before this time. There is, I learn, some opposition, but much confidence is felt in the passage of a bill substantially like the one recommended. Authority has been given to appoint commanders of corps; d'armee, with the rank of lieutenant-general. You have two officers now commanding several divisions, and may require more. Please send