HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA, Dublin, April 8, 1863.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding, &c., Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.:
GENERAL: The Fiftieth Virginia Regiment started last night, by railroad, via Gordonsville and Hanover Junction, to report to you at Fredericksburg. Colonel [A. S.] Vandeventer commands the regiment, and it started with an aggregate of 575. By the last report of the regiment, its aggregate present and absent is 834. Nearly all of the absentees will be sent forward to join it in a few days.
I hope that you have before this sent the Twenty-fifth and Thirty-first Virginia Regiments to report to General Imboden. He has not yet informed me of their arrival. His expedition will start on the 15th instant unless something unforeseen occurs to prevent.
With great respect, general, your obedient servant,
[APRIL 9, 1863.-For Lee to Seddon, in relation to Longstreet's movement, see Series I, Vol. XVIII, p.974.]
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, April 9, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 6th instant. I do not know that I can add anything to what I have already said on the subject of re-enforcing the Army of the West. If a division has been taken from Memphis to re-enforce Rosecrans, it diminishes the force opposed to our troops in that quarter, and may enable them to take the aggressive and to call them back. The enemy is reported to have abandoned his operations on the Tallahatchee River, which releases General Loring's force also.
I have thought it probable that the enemy may have determined to confine for the present the operations of the Army of the Potomac and of his army south of the James to the defensive, while with a portion of his troops from the east he should operate in Kentucky or elsewhere in the west; when the season shall suspend operations on the Mississippi, to return with an increased force to the east. There is, however, nothing as yet to show this determination, except the transfer of Burnside's corps to Kentucky.
The most natural way to re-enforce General Johnston would seem to be to transfer a portion of the troops this department to oppose those sent west, but it is not so easy for us to change troops from one department to another as it is for the enemy, and if we rely upon that method we may be always too late.
Should General Hooker's army assume the defensive, the readiest method of relieving the pressure upon General Johnston and General Beauregard would be for this army to cross into Maryland. This cannot be done, however, in the present condition of the roads, nor unless I can obtain a certain amount of provisions and suitable transportation. But this is what I would recommend, if practicable.
General Longstreet is now engaged on an extended line, endeavoring to withdraw supplies from the invaded district south of James River.