of your command, by the way of Clarksburg, Grafton, and Romney, to some point from which you can communicate with General Lee, and at which you can receive instructions from him. It is understood that General Floyd's force will remain in the valley of the Kanawha, and upon its strength will depend that of your detachment. The combined forces should be adequate to the defense of the valley, and no dispute about rank or jealousies between the State and Confederate officers must be allowed to impair the efficiency of the combined operations. The Army Regulations settle all questions that will probably occur, and, with the exercise of forbearance and good sense, no serious difficulties are to be apprehended.
Your departure should not be delayed longer than is absolutely necessary, as you have to march more than 200 miles and to accomplish a good deal, with not more than two months of good weather.
I suppose that the distance from Charleston to Clarksburg, by the nearest practical route, is over 100 miles; from Clarksburg to Grafton it is said to be 23 miles, and from Grafton to Romney 75 miles, making in all about 240 miles. From Clarksburg to Romney the road is said to be excellent, and that from Romney to Winchester is not bad; from Charleston to Clarksburg it is practicable, and probably not worse than the road followed by Rosecrans from Clarksburg to Carnifix Ferry. You will, therefore, require eighteen or twenty days for the march, exclusive of stoppages.
We are informed that the enemy have their principal magazines and shops at Clarksburg and Grafton. You will destroy these and injure the railroad to Wheeling and Parkersburg as much as possible. The highest estimate of the enemy's forces in Northwestern Virginia does not exceed 4,000, and we suppose they consist entirely of the Union men of the northwest. You will have no difficulty, therefore, in dispersing them should they oppose your march.
You will discriminate between friends and enemies in your treatment of the country people, making your impressments from the latter, and paying them in Confederate money; but your troops should be restrained from pillage. Capture such of the leading Union men as come within your reach, and send them to Richmond, or some safe place of confinement. Prisoners taken in battle or with arms in their hands, if attached to military organizations, will be treated as prisoners of war. Assure the people that the Government has no animosities to gratify, but that persistent traitors will be punished, and under no conceivable circumstances will a division of the State be acquiesced in.
Your speedy junction with General Lee is of the first importance. The enemy are massing their forces to crush him, and the fate of his army will decide that of the campaign. If he is successful, all the country taken from us reverts back to its rightful owners; if he fails, it will be impossible to defend points of minor importance. I cannot too strongly impress upon you, therefore, that you first duty is to effect a speedy co-operation with him.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. W. RANDOLPH,
Secretary of War.