It seems to me that we cannot afford to keep our troops awaiting possible movements of the enemy, but that our true policy is, as far as we can, so to employ our own forces as to give occupation to his at points of our selection.
I have observed that extracts from Northern journals, contained in Richmond papers of the 22nd instant, state that he yellow fever has appeared at New Berne, and that, in consequence, the Federal troops are being moved back to Morehead City. If, in fact, the fever is in New Berne, it would tend of itself to prevent active operations from that point. But as I have never heard of the disease being in that city, and as it does not generally break out so early in the season, even in localities which are subject to it, I am disposed to doubt the truth of the statement, and regard it as a cover for the withdrawal of the enemy`s forces for some other field. The attempt to conceal their movements, as in the case of the withdrawal of the troops from Suffolk, coupled with the fact that nothing has up to this time been undertaken on the North Carolina coast, convinces me that the enemy contemplates nothing important in that region, and that it is unnecessary to keep our troops to watch him.
If he has been waiting until this time for re-enforcements, the probability of their being furnished is greatly diminished by the movements now in progress on our part, and they must at least await the result of our operations. The same course of reasoning is applicable to the question of the probability of the enemy assuming the offensive against Richmond, either on the Peninsula or south of the James. I feel sure, therefore, that the best use that can be made of the troops in Carolina, and those in Virginia now guarding Richmond, would be the prompt assembling of the main body of them, leaving sufficient to prevent raids, together with as many as can be drawn from the army of General Beauregard, at Culpeper Court-House, under the command of that officer. I do not think they could more effectually prevent aggressive movements on the part of the enemy in any other way, while their assistance to this army in its operations would be very great.
If the report received from General Buckner of the withdrawal of General Burnside from Kentucky be correct, I think there is nothing to prevent a united movement of the commands of Generals Buckner and Sam. Jones into that State. They could render valuable service by collecting and bringing out supplies, if they did no more, and would embarrass the enemy and prevent troops now there from being sent to other points. If they are too weak to attempt this object, they need not be idle; and I think that if the enemy`s forces have, in fact, been so far weakened as to render present active operations on his part against them improbable, they should go where they can be of immediate service, leaving only a sufficient guard to watch the lines they now hold. They might be sent with benefit to re-enforce General Johnston or General Bragg, to constitute a part of the proposed army of General Beauregard at Culpeper Court-House, or they might accomplish good results by going into Northwestern Virginia. It should never be forgotten that our concentration at any point compels that of the enemy, and, his numbers being limited, tends to relieve all other threatened localities.
I earnestly commend these considerations to the attention of Your Excellency, and trust that you will be at liberty, in your better judgment, and with the superior means of information you possess