You may have learned, through my letter to the Department, of the projected expedition of Generals Jones and Imboden. They left on the 21st instant. The rains, I fear, produced high water, and have delayed their march, but as everything was well arranged and the expedition well provided, I think we may reasonably hope for success.
I am, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA, Dublin, April 27, 1863.
Hon. JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
On the request of Brigadier-General Jenkins, this letter* is respectfully forwarded to the Secretary of War.
I fully concur with General Jenkins as to the importance of sending his cavalry to operate in Western and Northwestern Virginia. It was my intention to send them there as soon as the horses could be collected and the grass sufficiently grown to support them on an expedition.
The enemy's force in the Kanawha Valley is believed to be small. Information regarded as reliable, and received direct from Charleston within the last week, makes it about 3,000 of all arms.
With General Jenkins' brigade of cavalry operating in Northwestern Virginia, I should not apprehend any advance or even raid on a large scale from the Kanawha Valley, and whilst our cavalry is in the northwest I should feel that I could, without risk to this line, send a couple of regiments of infantry, if necessary, to the protection of the salt-works.
The political advantages which might flow from military operations in the northwest of Virginia I am sure have not escaped the Secretary's attention.
That section has been for a long time in the uninterrupted possession of Peirpoint and his associate usurpers, and we still have many warm friends there who have been true to us under most trying circumstances.
If these men of Jenkins', who have recently left that part of the country to enter our service, are permitted to return there organized and with arms in their hands, and with every incentive to use them, our own cause will be strengthened in that section and our enemy's relatively weakened. It is, I think, important to teach the traitors in that section that they are not secure under what they regard as the new State government, and to show our friends that we are most desirous, and to some extent able, to help them,and encourage them to look forward to a day of deliverance, and to aid in bringing it about.
My telegram of the 22nd instant and letter of the 23rd to the Adjutant and Inspector General was based on the belief that General Lee needed a part of General Jenkins' brigade for immediate and active service, to carry out some plan determined on, and that the President thought it more important they should go on that service at this time than remain in this department.
If there is no such plan, I think it best that I should be permitted to send Jenkins' brigade on at least one expedition into Northwestern Virginia, or, if he needs additional cavalry, as soon as Jenkins' horses can
*Letter upon which this indorsement was made not found; it referred to the temporary transfer of a portion of Jenkins' brigade to the Army of Western Virginia.
48 R R-VOL XXV, PT II