HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN VIRGINIA, Dublin, June 14, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
I returned yesterday from a visit to the salt-works on the borders of Smyth and Washington Counties, and a part of the country in front of them.
I am convinced that a force of from 800 to 1, 000 men should be designated and assigned to the permanent occupation and defense of the salt-works. An intelligent and determined officer should be assigned to the command, and be should be provided with from eight to ten pieces of field artillery in position (no horses would be needed for the artillery), and at least one company of cavalry. An engineer officer should be sent to the place, to locate, plan, and superintend the construction of a few defensive works. The importance of the salt works to the Confederacy, would, I think, fully justify their permanent occupation by a force of at least the strength I have mentioned.
With that important point occupied as I have indicated, both the commanders of this and the Department of East Tennessee would feel greater freedom of action with their troops in that vicinity than they can feel now.
The artillery needed might be such as is now rejected for active service in the field and thrown aside.
I simply make the suggestion, without assigning all the reasons that induce this opinion. As the salt-works are directly on the dividing line between this department and the Department of East Tennessee, if my suggestion is thought worthy of adoption, it will rest with you to say whether the force designed for the defense of the salt-works shall be taken from my command or Major-General Buckner`s. As the chief approaches to the salt-works are through the Department of East Tennessee, I think General Buckner should furnish the garrison.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
GREENVILLE, N. C., June 14, 1863.
Comdg. Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, Petersburg:
GENERAL: Two days since a man named Ward was sent out of Washington in an ambulance by the enemy. He was taken up by my pickets and sen to to me. He is sick, and I have put him in the hospital under guard. From his character, I suspect he intended to communicate with his three sons who are in Washington. I inclose a copy of a note* from the office who arrested him, with the indorsement of Colonel Griffin.
I questioned him closely, but could get no information from him. I afterward sent Captain [W. E.] Demille to examine him as if for his own information.
The captain was satisfied from the examination that there are but three regiments of Pennsylvania drafted men in and near Washington, and one general (Prince). This is confirmed by three prisoners who were taken by Whitford. They said 2, 500 men in all.
* Not found.