Ford. There is very good cover for a strong detachment wont to the water's edge, but the picket is so arranged as to render it difficult to take at, except by some successful stratagem. There is a single sentinel at the water's edge; the relief is stationed 200 or 300 yards from the water, and the main body of the picket is some distance farther back. I doubt the practicability of capturing the picket, but I am prepared to make the attempt, and to execute your orders.
I am, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
R. H. ANDERSON,
Major-General, Commanding Division.
CONFIDENTIAL.] HDQRS. ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, December 6, 1862.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS, Richmond:
MR. PRESIDENT: The enemy still maintain his position north of the Rappahannock. I can discover no indications of his advancing, or of transferring his troops to other positions. Scouts on both of his flanks north of the Rappahannock report no movement, nor have those stationed on the Potomac discovered the collection of transport or the passage of troops down that river.
General Burnside's whole army appears to be encamped between the Rappahannock and Potomac. His apparent inaction suggests the probability that he is waiting for expected operations elsewhere, and I fear troops may be collecting south of James River. Yet I get not reliable information of organized or tried troops being sent to that quarter, nor am I aware of any of their general officers in whom confidence is placed being there in command. There is an evident concentration of troops hitherto disposed in other parts of Virginia, but whether for the purpose of augmenting General Burnside's army or any other I cannot tell.
Colonel Imboden reports that the Federal forces in Northwestern Virginia have retired toward New Creek, leaving a guard of some 200 at Beverly. There are none at Moorefield, or in the valley of the South Branch of to Potomac. There is but one company at Springfield, one at Paw Paw, one at the mouth of Little Cacapon, and three at Oldtown, in Maryland just opposite.
General Jones reports, on the 4th instant, that Generals Cox and Milroy were marching from New Creek toward Martinsburg, Colonel Imboden having previously reported the rumor of Cox's withdrawal from the Kanawha Valley. General Geary, I fear, is in possession of Winchester, as on the evening of the 3rd he was reported, with his division, within 4 miles of that place.* Cox's, Milroy's, and Geary's forces may be intended to occupy the valley, and reconstruct the railroads in that section, but I have thought it more probable that the greater portion were intended for operations elsewhere. I have heard that, on the 30th ultimo, ten regiments from Virginia had reached the Baltimore depot, in Washington, their destination unknown. Should General Cox have withdrawn from the Kanawha Valley, I should think the State troops, under General Floyd, could protect that country, and would recommend that the Confederate troops be brought at once to Staunton, to operate in the Shenandoah Valley, if necessary, or south of James River. I think the strength of the enemy south of James River is greatly exaggerated, but have no means of ascertaining the fact.
From the reports forwarded to me by General G. W. Smith, the officers
*See General Slocum's report of this movement,p.30.