gered. Immediately on the publication of the amnesty, which I thought would be beneficial in its, many presumed on it, and absented themselves from commands, choosing to olace on it a wrong interpretation. In one corps, the desertions of North Carolinians, and, to some extent, of Virginians, has grown to be a very serious matter. The Viorginians go off in many cases to join the various partisan corps in the State. General Imboden writes that there are great number of deserters in the valley, who conceal themselves successfully from the small squads sent to arrest them. Many cross the James River near balcony Falls, en route for the south, along the mountain ridges. Night before last, 30 went from one regiment and 18 from another. Great dissatisfaction is reported among the good men of the army at the apparent impunity of deserters.
In order to remove all palliation from the offense of desertion, and as a reward to merit, I have instituted in the army a system of furloughs, which are to be granted, in the most meritious and urgent cases, at the one for every 100 men present for duty.
I would now respectfully submit to your excellency the opinion that all has been done which forbearance and mercy call for, and that nothing will remedy this great evil whiich so much endagers our cause expecting the rigid enforcement of the deach penalty in fure in cases of conviction.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, Your Excellency's obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
August 17, 1863.
Brigadier General J. D. IMBODEN,
Commanding Valley District:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 14th instant has been received. So long as you are undetermined as to the movements of the enemy, the position you have taken may be well, but I desire you to dispose your to cover the valley, and to repress any expedition above Winchester, if possible. The best way of effecting this is to keep the enemy constantly apprehesive for the safety of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and to strike at it whenever you can. He will then be obliged to distribute himself, and cannot mass his troops for attack. This will require your cavalry to be active, which can serve at the same time to collect cattle, &c., from the exposed districts, for your own support and for the rest of the army.
I desire you to keep yourself informed of the position of Colonel William L. Jackson, and the infantry about Lewisburg and Huntersville of General Samuel Jones' command, that you may inform them of any movements affecting the country in which they operate. Co-operate with them if advantageous, which they could reciprocate under similar circumstances. I am gland to hear that the prospect of raising local troops in Rockingham and Augusta is so favorable. This will enable you, by leaving guards of your feeble men at certain points, to be strengthened by the local troops, to use the mass of your force in offensive operations.
It will be necessary to keep bold contantly in front of the