endeavor to ascertain his intention. I learn from prisoners that the three grand divisions of General Burnside's army, viz, Hooker's, [E. V.] Sumner's, and [W. B.] Franklin's, crossed this side, and were engaged in the battle of the 13th. They also state that the corps of Generals [S. P.] Heintzelman and Sigel reached Fredericksburg Sunday evening. Should the enemy cross at Port Royal in force before I can get this army in position to meet him, I think it move advantageous to retire to the Annas and give battle than on the banks of the Rappahannock. My design was to have done so in the first instance. My purpose was changed not from any advantage in this position, but from an unwillingness to open more of our country to depredation than possible, and also with a view of collecting such forage and provisions as could be obtained in the Rappahannock Valley. With the numerous army opposed to me, and the bridges and transportation at its command, the crossing of the Rappahannock, where it is as narrow and winding as in the vicinity of Fredericksburg, can be made at almost any point without molestation. It will, therefore, be more advantageous to us to draw his farther away from his base of operations.
The loss of the enemy in the battle of the 13th seems to have been heavy, though I have no means of computing it accurately. An intelligent prisoner says he heard it stated in the army to have amounted to 19,000, though a citizen of Fredericksburg who remained in the city computes it at 10,000. I think the latter number nearer the truth than the former.
I hope there will be no relaxation in making every preparation for the contest which will have to be renewed, but at what point I cannot now state.
I have learned that on the side of the enemy Generals Bayard and Jackson were killed, and Generals Hooker and [John] Gibbon wounded; the former said to be severely so.
I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.
The rough of the above was written from General Lee's dictation while we were in front. I have copied it, and affixed his signature in his absence and by his direction.
W. H. TAYLOR,
HDQRS. ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
December 31, 1862.
I. The general commanding takes this occasion to express to the officers and soldiers of the army his high appreciation of the fortitude, valor, and devotion displayed by them, which, under the blessing of Almighty God, has added the victory of Fredericksburg to the long list of their triumphs.
An arduous march, performed with celerity, under many disadvantages, exhibited the discipline and spirit of the troops and their eagerness to confront the foe.