HDQRS. DEPT. OF WESTERN VA. AND EAST TENN.,
Dublin, December 24, 1863.
Brigadier General W. PRESTON,
Your letter of 22nd received to-day. Please return to Abingdon and resume command of District of Southwestern Virginia.
DECEMBER 27, 1863.
General J. E. B. STUART:
GENERAL: I send you the report from Clark's Mountain received this morning:
The enemy's camps of about two corps are in sight, as before reported, near Mitchell's Station and along the railroad between Mitchell's Station and Culpeper Court-House. No movements in their camp this morning. It is too smoky to see plainly about Brandy and vicinity, but the rising of columns of smoke indicates increased camps about Stone-House Mountain and Culpeper Court-House.
I wish if to-morrow is favorable you would ride to Clark's Mountain and observe the position of the enemy, and let me know your conclusion. The report from the moutnain does not coincide with Lomax's of 11.15 to-day, just received.
R. E. LEE.
December 28, 1863.
My scouts bring me information, considered trustworthy, that heavy re-enforcements are daily arriving at New Berne. It is reported that Kinston will be attacked in a few days, that Butler designs extending his lines to Kinston and New River. Kinston should be re-enforced at once.
W. H. C. WHITING,
WILMINGTON, N. C.,
December 28, 1863.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:
GENERAL: Kinston is a strategic point which should never be allowed to fall into the enemy's hands. It is undoubtedly, of the very greatest importance to the defense of Wilmington. While we hold it, we may consider our communication secure, and we seriously threaten any advance on this place from toward New Berne. I am sure that an attack is meditated on that point, and imminent. The enemy are preparing for an active campaign in North Carolina, the ultimate object of which is doubtless to close the only remaining port we possess.
You are in possession of my plans of defense, and are aware of what is indispensable to success. I think I am not premature, nor ill advised, in saying that it is full time to throw a strong force into