oners, 106 horses with harness, some saddles, bridles, pistols, and sabers captured. Though hotly pursued to the South Branch of the Potomac, Captain McNeill, by marching all night, succeeded in bringing his prisoners, &c., into Hardy, 12 miles south of Moorefield, where, for want of subsistence, he had to parole the former. No loss on his side is reported. These successes show the vigilance of the cavalry and do credit to their officers. The weather and condition of the country forbid any military operations. The last fall of snow was fully a foot deep. The rain of last night and to-day will add to the discomfort of the troops and the hardships of our horses. I had hoped that the latter would have been in good condition for the spring campaign. The prospect in the beginning of the winter was good, and continued so until recently. Now, when their labors are much increased, it is impossible to procure sufficient forage.
As soon as I can ascertain what is the probable intention of the enemy, and feel that I can leave here with propriety, I will visit Richmond, and consult with you on the condition of things in North Carolina, &c.
Charleston ought to be very strong; there will be but little time now to strengthen it, if it is to be attacked, as I see General Foster left Old Point on the 19th, on his return to Port Royal. There is yet time to do much at Wilmington if improved. General Whiting is a good engineer and hard laborer. If he has the means, he will make a good defense.
I do not think Burnside will be able to move immediately, but every preparation should be energetically pushed forward. With the additional divisions under Longstreet, I consider that line safe.
I am, with great respect, very truly, yours,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA, Dublin, February 27, 1863.
Brigadier General D. S. DONELSON,
Commanding Department of East Tennessee, Knoxville:
GENERAL: On my return from Richmond day before yesterday, I received your letter of the 20th instant, together with a copy of your order to Brigadier-General Marshall. Whilst in Richmond, I conferred freely with the Secretary of War in regard to the expedition of which you write. I have no suitable officer to place in command of a combined expedition. My cavalry is under command of a brigadier-general.
Yours, or that part of it which you would probably send, is, I presume, under Brigadier-General Marshall, who ranks General Jenkins, the commander of my cavalry, and would, on a combined expedition, command the whole.
I doubt very much whether a command so organized and commanded would act cordially together, and I think it would be very bad policy to start so important an expedition with such an element of discord. I have no commander superior to Marshall and Jenkins, and it would greatly increase the chances of success of such an expedition if a commander superior were assigned to the command. It rests with the War Department to designate that superior.
I think myself that the cavalry force should be followed by an infantry and artillery force, at least as strong as the cavalry. The whole would make a handsome command for a major-general, and if that major-general were a Kentuckian, well and favorably known in the State, I