HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA,
Dublin, May 30, 1863.
Brigadier General W. PRESTON, Commanding District, Abingdon, Va.:
GENERAL: I had the pleasure yesterday of receiving your letter of the day before, and am obliged to you for the full information it communicated of the strength, location, and condition of your troops.
I am glad to find that your new command is in somewhat better condition that i had been led to suppose; though you certainly do not represent it in a very admirable nd efficient state. I notice that you do not mention Major [A.] Leyden's battalion of Georgia artillery; when in my department it numbered some 500 or 600 men and twelve field-pieces, and I regarded it as admirable battalion. It was a part of Brigadier-General Marshall's command, and when I last heard of it was at Bristol.
The only troops in my department in position to co-operate with you are at Glade Spring and Saltville. At Glade Spring one regiment and a battalion of infantry and one field battery of Colonel Wharton's brigade. Aggregate present, 1,154; aggregate present and absent, 1,516.
Brigadier General J. S. Williams commands at Saltville. He has authority to raise and organize as many troops as he can in Eastern Kentucky and the western border of Virginia.
By his last return, the 30th instant, he had aggregate present, 1,007; aggregate present and absent, 1,413. His command at present is made up chiefly of the Sixty-third Virginia Regiment and a field battery; a regiment of cavalry, Colonel [W. E.] Peters, is in course of organization; these made up of the late Virginia State Line. He has also a squadron of very irregular cavalry. I am informed that Colonel Peters' regiment will soon be filled up. Williams reported to me that a friend of his, Colonel [A. J.] May, had organized a regiment, or large battalion, in Eastern Kentucky, and had reported it to him, to be attached to his brigade. Arms and some other supplies have been furnished for it. There is another regiment of infantry in course of organization of State Line men, under Colonel [H. M.] Beckley, in Logan, Tazewell, and adjoining counties.
I will give you with pleasure the numbers and location of my other troops, if you desire it. There are none, however, nearer Saltville than Raleigh Court-House. I will with pleasure, general, co-operate with you to the extent of my ability. I have directed General Williams to communicate with you, and, if occasion offers, co-operate with you promptly. From what you tell me of the condition of Eastern Kentucky and the border counties of Southwestern Virginia, I do not think the enemy can undertake even a raid on a large scale on South-western Virginia until the crops ripen.
Your troops and those under General Williams can, I think, prevent a successful raid into the southwest of this State.
I should like very such to meet and confer with you, and will do so soon. In the meantime I shall be glad to hear from you.
Most respectfully and truly, general, your obedient servant,
RICHMOND, May 31, 1863.
General R. E. LEE, Commanding &c., near Fredericksburg, Va.:
GENERAL: Yours of the 30th was delivered to me last night. Before it was received, General Cooper had sent a dispatch to General D. H.