Twenty-fifth and Thirty-first, and if you can call it or an equal number of other troops to you temporarily, and let Imboden have the two which he so much desires, I think the prospect of the success of his expedition will be greatly increased. He seems quite confident that he could send them back to you in a few weeks with their ranks filled. I hope you can arrange to let him have them temporarily. I still think that I could a little later in the season, make an expedition into Northwestern Virginia, to damage or destroy the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and the Northwestern Virginia Railroad, and to occupy the country as long as possible, with better prospects of success than the present plan offers. But I should be obliged to wait until the mountain roads are practicable, and the grass sufficiently grown to give good grazing. The late snow-storm was very heavy throughout this section of country, and to the north the roads are impassable. The spring, too, is very late; so late that I cannot start before the 1st of May.
Imboden has better roads to travel and is better provided with forage, and I shall be glad to give him all the aid in my power. If it continues to rain much longer (it rained heavily last night), Imboden will not be able to start much sooner than I could.
Will you please inform me if you decide to let Imboden have the Twenty-fifth and Thirty-first Virginia regiments?
With great respect, general, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Dublin, March 28, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector-General, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: From information I have, I think it probable that a regiment or two may be raised in Eastern Kentucky, if any assurance is given that they will be kept on duty in that section of the country.
Under ordinary circumstances, I should be very averse to receiving troops with any such understanding, but in this case I think it may be done with advantage.
It would commit that number of men to our cause; would make it necessary for the enemy to keep troops in that part of Kentucky; and if the men, though raised with the understanding that they should serve in that part of Kentucky, are driven from it, it is more than probable that a majority of them would remain in our service. The enemy has derived much advantage in Kentucky by organizing troops for home defense; many of the men so raised have recently, in consequence of disaffection in Kentucky, joined us. It is probable that others would do the same, and we might, by pursuing the policy I suggest, so establish our authority in that part of Kentucky as to aid us materially in drawing supplies from that State.
I respectfully ask that the Secretary will authorize me to make the attempt to raise troops as I have suggested, with such restrictions as he may think proper to impose. If it is done, no time should be lost in doing it.
In a letter which you addressed to General Donelson on the 17th instant, a copy of which you sent to me, and which I received night before last, on my return from Princeton, you say it is in contemplation to move a part of my troops to the Kentucky border, to aid General Marshall. If that is still in contemplation, I wish you would so inform