cavalry. Of course, under this state of things, it will not do to withdraw Colonel Washburn's force from Romney.
I explained to you some time since that I deemed it impolitic to withdraw Colonel Washburn's force, as it was absolutely necessary to keep a force in the valley of the South Branch sufficient to protect our rear, to prevent the destruction of the railroad and our stores at New Creek. If it is deemed advisable to strengthen you, it must be done from here or from some other point; the road west of this must be protected.
Unless you are approached by some portion of the army at Fredericksburg, I think you need not be apprehensive, as the force above, including Jones', Imboden's, and White's combined, could not successfully compete with your force. [E. V.] White, with his battalion, came down from Mount Jackson with about 450 men a few days since and has been scouting over in Loundoun County. I have to-day sent a strong cavalry scout, with two guns, toward Snicker's Gap, on the east side of the Shenandoah River, for the purpose of driving them back; the scout will not return until to-morrow. I have telegraphed Mulligan to hold himself in readiness to support Washburn if the rebels move to attack him. I think, however, the report of the strength of the rebels in Moorefield is exaggerated. Yet it may be possible they intend to attack Washburn instead of you. I would suggest to you to send a cavalry scout toward Wardensville, in order to keep yourself well posted in that direction. Washburn sent a scout there yesterday; had not returned when I last heard from him, but will probably be in this evening. If I get any important news from Washburn, I will telegraph to Martinsburg, and have it sent you by special messenger from there. Keep me fully advised. I suppose you can use the signal in good weather.
B. F. KELLEY,
WASHINGTON, February 17, 1863.
GENERAL: Major-General Wright was informed some time since that the troops for the defense of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad were placed under your command. The Secretary of War does not deem it necessary that the lines of your department should be further specified or changed at the present time.
Your attention is respectfully called to the contraband trade across the Potomac above the Monocacy. A wagon-load of 60 hides is said to have recently crossed at Berlin.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
CINCINNATI, February 17, [1863.]
Commanding District Western Virginia:
SIR: There are two furnaces for making iron; first, 7 miles east; second, 11 miles west of Fincastle. As no troops are at Lewisburg, I propose to send cavalry by rapid marches to destroy these works, and, at the same time, to act against Princeton, with the view of destroying