the enemy overcome, he would probably fall back on Gordonsville, as I suppose his policy is to check and retard my advance as long and wherever he can. I do not deem it necessary to discuss the contingencies of a failure, as they will, of course, present themselves to your mind. The whole question, however, in my judgment, hangs upon the advantages to be gained and the course be pursued in the event of success. I am not in condition to follow Lee to Richmond, and will be less so after being weakened by a severe battle. The only thing I could do would be to change my base to the Fredericksburg railroad, and, after taking a position in front of that place, await an increase of force. The men I should have to sacrifice in this operation would be sufficient to secure the longer line of communication I now have. In fine, I can get a battle out of Lee under very disadvantageous circumstances, which may render his inferior force my superior, and which is not likely to result in any very decided advantage, even in case I should be victorious.
In this view I am reluctant to run the risks involved, without the positive sanction of the Government. If any demonstration on the Peninsula were practicable, or a force could threaten an advance on the Fredericksburg road, Lee would, I think, retire from my front, but I take it for granted either of these contingencies is out of the question.
I send this by an aide-de-camp, who will bring your reply.
GEO. G. MEADE,
Washington, September 18, 1863-4 p. m.
Army of the Potomac:
General Burnside is very apprehensive that a part of Ewell's corps has gone by Lynchburg to East Tennessee. If you get any evidence to that effect, I wish to send it to Burnside, as his movements must very much depend upon the information.
H. W. HALLECK,
SEPTEMBER 18, 1863-9 p. m.
(Received 9. 20 p. m.)
There is abundant evidence from deserters and scouts, going to show that Ewell's corps is in my front, and nothing to indicate that any portion of it has gone to East Tennessee.
GEO. G. MEADE,
HDQRS. THIRD DIVISION, CAVALRY CORPS,
September 18, 1863.
Lieutenant Colonel C. ROSS SMITH,
Chief of Staff, Cavalry Corps:
COLONEL: One of my scouts has just returned from across the river. He crossed last night 1 mile below Raccoon Ford, passed