HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
October 23, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON, Secretary of War, Richmond:
SIR: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 20th instant. As soon as your dispatch with reference to Averell's movement reached me, I directed General Imboden, whom I had ordered to the lower valley of the Shenandoah when this army crossed the Rapidan, to return, toward Staunton, ascertain, if possible, the truth of the report, and be prepared to meet Averell's advance. I think there are enough troops in Western Virginia, if properly managed, not only to resist all attacks of the enemy, but to drive them farther from our present positions. The retreating before every advance of the enemy upon the Tennessee Railroad, I fear will entail upon us heavy loss, and the assaults of such troops as they have in that region, home guards and cavalry, could, by proper dispositions, be easily repulsed. I hope you will cause to be investigated the truth of the report which you mention of a force of the enemy being in York River, as another attack upon our railroad from that quarter may be in contemplation.
I have not been able to ascertain the future movements of General Meade's army. Our scouts report that bridge timber and cross-ties have been brought forward to Broad Run, and that a portion of the enemy's infantry had advanced as far as Catlett's Station on the railway. It is also stated that his cavalry is in Warrenton, and a portion of his infantry on the turnpike leading from that place to Centerville. It may be his intention to advance to Warrenton and bring his supplies to that point by the turnpike until the railroad is reconstructed. Our scouts on the Potomac still report transports with troops asceding that river. A steamer passed up on the 13th instant laden with troops, estimated at 600, and on the 17th, two large ocean steamers passed up, estimated to contain 1,200. I see it stated in the Northern papers that all the volunteers in the State of New York have been ordered to Washington. They are, therefore strengthening themselves on that front.
I hope you will endeavor to provide the army with shoes, clothing, and blankets, for the season is approaching when the want of these articles will entail great suffering and sickness on the troops, and incapacitate them for military movements.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HDQRS. CAV. CORPS, ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
October 23, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army:
GENERAL: I have the honor to request that the Eighth and Fourteenth Regiments Virginia Cavalry, lately ordered to this command, which order was temporarily suspended, be now ordered to proceed to join in compliance with the original order. My cavalry force has been always inadequate in number to the work to be performed, and none can be better spared to augment in that the regiments designated.
I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. B. STUART,