received as conclusive that Burnside's whole army had marched for Fredericksburg. General Halleck had been to Warrenton on a visit I shall wait to hear again from Stuart to-day, and will then start for Fredericksburg, if circumstances warrant.
I am, most respectfully,
R. E. LEE,
RICHMOND VA., November 19, 1862.
Hon. GEORGE W. RANDOLPH,
Secretary of War:
DEAR SIR: I am emboldened by an expression of yours, contained in a letter of instruction to General Echols, suggesting to him to consult freely with me about the defense of this portion of the State, to address you this communication. I am quite sure you perfectly understand the motives which induce me to take course I have determined upon, and will ascribe it exclusively to an earnest desire to promote the good of the common cause, and to nothing else whatever.
It is clear to the commonest apprehension, I think, that the enemy are about to put forth a far more formidable effort to overrun the South than they yet have done, and that it will require the whole (united, zealous, and thoroughly organized) strength of the Confederacy to meet and repel the attack, is equally clear. I have not the presumption to offer any suggestions, even if I had them to make, about the general measures of defense, but I have none, and am cheerful to abide the issue as directed by those into whose hands our common destiny is committed. I have, however, some opinions about the defense of the western portion of Virginia, which, if well founded, may be of importance to this country and may indirectly bear upon the plan of general defense. The topography of Western Virginia is peculiar. The great Appalachian chain of mountains forms a water-shed, separating the waters of the Atlantic from those of the Mississippi Valley, and from the summit of this great chain westward the country is divided into valleys, extending nearly or quite in some places to the Ohio River. These valleys are separated from each other by high and precipitous ridges, passable at a very few places, indeed, by wheels. Generally they can be passed only by footmen or single men on horseback. The capabilities of defense by a small number of men against a large body are very great, if judiciously managed; but there are passes in the mountains which, if properly held, would render the advance of the enemy, except in overwhelming numbers, almost impossible. It has occurred to me that the enemy is so far superior to is in numbers that we must resort to every means within our reach to equalize our forces; hence I think proper defenses