FREDERICKSBURG, February 13, 1863.
General W. E. JONES,
Commanding Valley District:
GENERAL: I have determined to take advantage of the present time to endeavor to restrict General Milroy's possession of the Valley, if he cannot be otherwise disturbed. I have, accordingly, directed General Stuart, with select detachments from Hampton's and Fitz. Lee's brigades, to cross the Blue Ridge, should no unforeseen circumstances prevent, and I desire you, with your whole available force, to be in readiness to join him. As I cannot now detach any infantry from this army, it is hoped, by a combination of the cavalry with your command, that the enemy's communication with the railroad and his depot of supplies may be cut off, if not destroyed. We shall at least gain information of his strength in the Valley, and of the stability of his troops, and be better prepared to concert measures against him at a more opportune period. I hope, too, some material injury can be inflicted on him.
I have to request that you will prepare provisions for your command, get down the troops that may be available from Colonel Davidson and General Imboden, and be ready to unite with General Stuart at the time and place he many appoint. I have suggested to General Stuart that, after putting the cavalry east of the mountains in motion, he proceed in person to New Market, or some other point in the Valley, where he can join and confer with you.
It may be necessary for the cavalry on its return to ascend the Valley as high as New Market. Can you direct provisions and forage for 1,000 men to be prepared for them, if needed? It is also advisable that you send out scouts to get information of the operations and movements of the enemy, and take any other precautions that may be necessary to insure success to the expedition.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
FREDERICKSBURG, February 14, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I think it proper to report, for the information of the Department, that I have received this morning a letter, dated Heathsville, 10th instant, from Lieutenant C. Littleton Upshur, signing himself enrolling officer, stating that on the 9th and 10th transports of the enemy, loaded with troops, horses, &c., passed down the Potomac. I do not know Lieutenant Upshur, but he states that he is directly on the river, and can see all their movements. If they are anything more than convalescents returning to their command south, I think that they were embarked at Aquia Creek, inasmuch as I have received a letter of the same date from a scout watching that position, in which he states that a large number of the enemy is encamped at that point, and no mention is made of embarkation or transports. Other scouts on the Potomac have as yet reported no passage of troops down that river.
Captain E. P. Bryan, signal officer, whom I had directed to cross over into Maryland for the purpose of watching the Potomac on that side,