HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
January 20, 1862.
Colonel J. D. IMBODEN, Commanding, &c.:
COLONEL: Your letter of January 12 has been received. I am glad to hear of the improving condition of your command, and of the very satisfactory vote on the proposition to change from partisan rangers to regular troops. The 167 dissenting men will either be entitled to their discharge or allowed to join what organization they choose, though I hope they will yet consent to remain with you. The success of Captain McNeill is very gratifying, an, i hope, may be often repeated. The prisoners charged with the murder of unarmed citizens must be tried regularly by State laws, and punished according to them. The idea of capturing the municipal officers of the Peirpoint government is a very good one. it would relieve the people in the northwest very much to each them all, and render the office of sheriff as dangerous a position as possible.
By the direction of the President, i have whiten to General Halleck on the subject of Milroy's orders. He replies that these orders are unauthorized, and if on investigation he finds them authentic, he will order Milroy to change his course. i do not think retaliation upon the Union people of the northwest would help cause in that region. I am rejoiced to hear of the state of opinion beginning to prevail in those counties since the proclamation of Mr. Lincoln. Encourage it as much as possible, and continue to enlist as rapidly as possible for your command, avoiding those who have deserted from our armies and gone home. i hope you may have continued success in your efforts to redeem the northwest from the Federal dominion.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Dublin Depot, January 20, 1863.
Brigadier General JOHN S. WILLIAMS.
Salt Sulphur Springs:
GENERAL: I desire you to inform me what disposition you have made of your brigade, under my instructions of the - instant.
I am informed that there are some valuable mills on the Greenbrier River and Second Creek, which I desire to protect, if possible. I wish you would inform yourself of the positions of those mills, and report to me whether you can or not, with the force under your command, give them adequate protection. I am informed that six of the enemy's regiments have been withdrawn from the Kanawha Valley within the last ten or twelve days, and do not think the enemy is in condition at present to venture on any other offensive operations than raids, such as they made some ten days since into Greenbrier and Monroe. A small infantry force, judiciously posted, ought to be able to deter them from venturing far into the country occupied by our troops.
Very respectfully, &c.,