June 5, 1863-11. 30 a. m.
His Excellency THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
Yesterday morning appearances indicated that during the night the enemy had broken on a few of his camps and abandoned them. These changes were observed on the right of his line, in the vicinity of Hamilton`s Crossing. So far as I was enabled to judge, from all my means of information, it was impossible form me to determine satisfactorily whether this movement had merely been a change of camps-the enemy had moved in the direction of Richmond or up the river-but, taken in connection with the fact that some deserters came in from the divisions of Hood and Pickett, I concluded that those divisions had been brought to the front from heir late positions at Gordonsville and Taylorsville, and that this could be form no other purpose but to enable the enemy to move up the river, with a view to the execution of a movement similar to that of Lee`s last year. He must either have it in mind to cross the Upper Potomac, or to throw his army between mine and Washington, in case I am correct in my conjecture. To accomplish either, he must have been greatly re-enforced, and if making their movement, the fair presumption is that he has been by the troops from Charleston. Of this I have no evidence further than that furnished me by Major-General Dix, that they had come Richmond. This morning some more of their camps have disappeared. The picket line along the river is preserved, and as strong as ever. General Buford, with three divisions of cavalry and ten pieces of artillery, is on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and yesterday was along the river beyond Sulphur Springs, and reports no enemy. As I am liable to be called on to make a movement with the utmost promptitude, I desire that I may be informed as early as practicable of the views of the Government concerning this army. Under instructions from the major-general commanding the army, dated January 31, I am instructed to keep "in view always the importance of covering Washington and Harper`s Ferry, either directly or by so operating as to be able to punish any force of the enemy sent against them. " In the event the enemy should move, as I almost anticipate he will, the head of his column will probably be headed toward the Potomac, via Gordonsville or Culpeper, while the rear will rest on Fredericksburg. After giving the subject my best reflection, I am of opinion that it is my duty to pitch into his rear, although in so doing the head of his column may reach Warrenton before I can return. Will it be within the spirit of my instructions to do so? In view of these contemplated movements of the enemy, I cannot too forcibly impress upon the mind of His Excellency the President the necessity of having one commander form all of the troops whose operations can have an influence on those of Lee`s army. Under the present system, all independent commanders are in ignorance of the movements of the others; at least such is my situation. I trust that I may not be considered in the way to this arrangement, as it is a position I do not desire, and only suggest it, as I feel the necessity for concert as well as vigorous action. It is Necessary for me to say this much that my motives may not be misunderstood.