with mine that I am very desirous of having such information, and as I have heard that General Marshall is in Richmond, I write to ask that you will obtain of him the desired information and communicate it to me.
Major-General Maury wishes me to send re-enforcements to him, but I cannot think it proper to send away the very small force I have at and near Saltville, unless I am assured that there is a force o nor near the Kentucky border sufficiently strong to guard against a raid on the saltworks.
I addressed you a letter on the 2nd instant, in reply to your telegram of that date informing me that the Secretary of War desired me to send re-enforcements to East Tennessee, if, in my judgment, it could be done with property. I replied that I thought it would be imprudent to send away any more troops from the department, and [gave] generally the strength and position of my troops. I would be glad to be informed if, after the receipt of my letter of the 2nd instant, the Secretary of War still desires me to send re-enforcements to East Tennessee.
In the same letter I suggested that if Brigadier-General Marshall and been relieved from duty in Southwestern Virginia and Eastern Kentucky, and detached from his troops, and no other general officer assigned to the command, that Brigadier General J. S. Williams should be assigned to the command either permanently or until the new commander, who ever he may be, enters on the duty.
You will, I am sure, general, understand that I make this suggestion and manifest solicitude in regard to troops not in my department because their condition and service materially concerns my own department, and so many changes have been made in commanders of the Department of East Tennessee within a few months past that I have not been able to obtain from them the information in regard to those troops which it was desirable I should have in order to dispose of my own troops to the best advantage.
With great respect, general, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA, Dublin, May 8, 1863.
Colonel [M. J.] FERGUSON,
Commanding Sixteenth Virginia [Cavalry] Regiment:
COLONEL: The general commanding directs that you will proceed at once with all the men you can collect to Staunton, Va. It is of importance that you reach that point as soon and with as many men as possible.
Yours, very respectfully,
WM. B. BYERS,
HEADQUARTERS, May 9, 1863.
GENERAL: Your note of the 8th has been received. The boats are at Orange Court-House, or perhaps back at Gordonsville, but they are without horses. I have no objection to your taking them if you require them, but you will not be able to transport them, or, I fear, protect them.