Beverly, Philippi, and Buckhannon, does not exceed three regiments, say 1,500 men. If, therefore, we cannot first disturb the enemy's occupation of Martinsburg and his railroad communication through the lower valley, I desire you, when General Imboden is ready to move, to threaten his forces at Romney, New Creek, and Cumberland, so at least to fix them there if you cannot dispossess them, and to prevent their being sent west. Simultaneously with your demonstration, and under cover of it, Imboden's cavalry will move upon Oakland from Moorefield, and burn the bridge, which is of wood, near the place, and proceed to Rowlesburg and destroy the bridge there, also of wood. His infantry and artillery will so regulate their march as to reach Beverly at the same time as his cavalry crosses Cheat River, which will prevent the forces there interfering with his cavalry's destruction of the railroad bridges as far west as Grafton, General Sam. Jones in the meantime having fixed the enemy's attention in the Kanawha.
I think these operations will draw Milroy from Winchester and the Valley to the northwest, open that country, for a time, at least, to us; enable us to drive out horses, cattle, &c., and afford an opportunity to our citizens who wish to join us, and give relief to others now suffering under oppression and robbery.
I have disclosed the whole plan to you, that you may co-operate knowingly, and give every aid in your power to its success. Take advantage of every opportunity to damage the enemy on your part, strike at his moving columns, collect cattle, &c., for the army.
R. E. LEE,
Fredericksburg, March 26, 1863.
General J. D. IMBODEN,
Commanding Northwestern Brigade, Shenandoah Mountain:
GENERAL: I am anxious to know how you progress in your preparations for your expedition west of the Alleghany, the strength and composition of your forces, &c. The season is now at hand when it should be executed, and as soon as the roads and mountain streams permit, it should move.
I have sent Colonel Baldwin to Richmond to-day, to procure you the rifled pieces, arms, ammunition, &c., you require, and forward them immediately to Staunton. I have written to General W. E. Jones, when you are ready to move, to threaten the enemy at Romney, New Creek, and Cumberland, and prevent their forces moving west. General Sam. Jones has been desired to attract the enemy in the Kanawha from you, and urged to send you two regiments of his infantry to aid in your movement against Beverly, &c. If the different columns move with precision and act rapidly and boldly, success appears certain.
If all is not accomplished that is desired, the bridges at Oakland and Rowlesburg, which are of wood, can be destroyed, and cattle, horses, and men obtained from that region, which is now closed to us.
Leave your feeble men and horses with your 6-pounders to guard the pass at your camp, and keep your entire march a secret, even from your own men.
If there is anything more I can do to aid you, let me know, and inform me when your preparations will be complete and when you expect to move.