I have directed General Hood to continue his march toward Richmond, and will to-morrow send General Longstreet to join his two divisions and take position to cover Richmond, and operate, if necessary, south of the James River. If reports from the enemy render it requisite, I will dispatch his two remaining divisions after him as soon as the storm now raging ceases.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, February 17, 1863.
Major General GUSTAVUS W. SMITH,
GENERAL: Please retain in Richmond all men belonging to Generals Pickett's and Hood's divisions, Longstreet's corps, who are on their way to join them, until the arrival of these divisions within your reach, and then I would thank you to send them immediately to them. They are in march for Richmond, and will be joined by General Longstreet.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE.
RICHMOND, February 17, 1863.
Authority is hereby granted to William L. Jackson to raise a regiment for the Provisional Army within the lines of the enemy in Northwestern Virginia; the same, when completed, to be mustered into the service of the Confederate States, and the muster-rolls forwarded to this office.
By command of the Secretary of War:
E. A. PALFREY,
HEADQUARTERS, Fredericksburg, February 18, 1863.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President of the Confederate States:
Mr. PRESIDENT: From the information I daily receive, it appears that the Federal Army under General Hooker is abandoning its present position between the Rappahannock and Potomac. The greater portion which has so far left has descended the Potomac. Some infantry and cavalry have gone toward Washington City. Two corps have gone down the river; a third was reported to be embarking on Sunday. I have not heard its destination.
The portion rendezvousing in Hampton Roads may be for the purpose of reorganization, or for operations in North Carolina.
Pickett's and Hool's divisions are in march for the Chickahominy. I have directed them to halt near Atlee's Station, on the Central Railroad, where their supplies will be placed. I did not wish them to approach near Richmond unless necessary. Should the movements of he enemy render it necessary for them to proceed south of Richmond, they can continue their march.