about 1, 100 infantry and a field battery, Whilst I relied on my small force in front to guard that part of the country, the troops on this road were designed, by rapid movement from one point to another, to meet and repel raids such as was made on Wytheville on the 18th instant.
Under your call for troops, I sent the infantry and one battery from this line of road and another battery drawn from the front. When I said to the President, in my letter of the 2nd instant, that I could spare between 2, 500 and 3, 000 infantry, I supposed they would only be called for to meet an immediate and pressing emergency, and that they would soon be sent back. The troops I sent forward are now, I presume, in Winchester, or near there, with General Lee`s army. General Lee will, very naturally, be reluctant to give them up, under the impression that the general would need them for a battle supposed to be impending and soon to be delivered. I have telegraphed him that, though I need my men very much, I would not call for them immediately. But I do not think it safe or prudent that they should be kept long.
The raid of also Saturday shows, I think, the necessity off keeping a force on this road. The raid was on a large scale; more than a thousand cavalry started on it, and it failed chiefly, I believe, because the leaders were killed early in the skirmish.
If that had not happened, the few new troops and employees, aided by some citizens, chiefly from this immediate neighborhood, however well they may have fought, could not have arrested the progress of so large a body of the enemy, and the damage they would have done to this road in this section of country would have been incalculable for I had then and have now no other troops on this line to oppose them.
I bring this matter to your notice, to urge, respectfully, that the troops I have sent to General Lee, or an equal number of some other troops, be sent back here as soon as they can possibly be spared. If a battle between General lee and the Federal army is not immediately impending, I think they should be sent Back without further delay.
May I ask early answer to this?
With great respect, your obedient servant,
JULY 28, 1863.
Respectfully submitted to the President, for his consideration and for instructions as to the troops asked for.
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
General Lee needs troops; the immediate want of General Jones not known.
Troops cannot now be returned.
J. A. S.,