Berryville, Front Royal, Strasburg, and Moorefield, and the greater part of the troops concentrated near Winchester. If the enemy should move against me with a large force it will probably be his object to cut me off from Harper's Ferry. I will, therefore, not rely on that line of retreat, but take a position between Winchester and Romney. In this case the troops in the vicinity of Harper's Ferry have to retire to Harper's Ferry, those at Martinsburg and vicinity to Falling Waters and Williamsport. The trains which may be at Martinsburg have also to cross at Falling Waters and at Williamsport, if the river is fordable. The Government stores at Martinsburg must in this case be shipped to Harper's Ferry and Cumberland by railroad. This depends on the time we may have. From information received it seems that the enemy has at this moment about 2,500 cavalry and from 3,000 to 4,000 infantry and artillery between Strasburg and Staunton, but these troops may be re-enforced very quickly, which depends upon the operations under General Grant. You see from this statement what position I am in, and that I must have every available man to maintain it. Colonel Rodgers' regiment should be sent to me immediately, if possible. If, in case of a strong force of the enemy, I take the position as indicated, I will defend Harper's Ferry indirectly, because the enemy cannot attack that place when I am on his left flank, and rear with my forces. I will, however, see what will be the best for me to do.
Harper's Ferry, May 2, 1864.
Captain T. MELVIN,
Asst. Adjt. General, Dept. of West Virginia, Martinsburg:
Your telegram received. Your situation as described perfectly understood. Everything that I can do to sustain you will be done promptly. You shall have Colonel Rodgers as soon as possible. Received orders from Major-General Stahel to relieve our infantry and dismounted cavalry between here and Sleepy Creek by the Twelfth Pennsylvania Cavalry. Expected to get a cavalry regiment intact, but when they report it is with about 10 men in each company mounted and 400 recruits. The latter good for nothing-worse than useless. If I should place dismounted men from other regiments on the line of the railroad it would be of no use, as they might at any moment receive the order to join their regiments, and should I have to remove stores, as proposed, on whom can I depend to have the order executed with safety? The Twelfth Pennsylvania Cavalry is known as one of the worst in the service, and would run at the first alarm. Although I relieve Colonel Rodgers and his command as soon as these dismounted cavalry recruits have arms, yet I do so feeling that no confidence at all can be placed in them. I will form all the mounted men in one battalion and distribute them along the line as outpost pickets. Just received the following by telegraph from the Army of the Potomac:
Men are in from the Blue Ridge. Can hear of no infantry in the Valley, or movement in that direction.
Captain Melvin will please forward the above to General Sigel by courier.