War of the Rebellion: Serial 099 Page 0860 OPERATIONS IN N. C., S. C., GA., AND E. FLA. Chapter LIX.

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get off without delay, I told Thomas that 3,000 men would be sufficient for him to take. In the meantime I had directed Sheridan to get his cavalry ready and as soon as the snow in the mountains melted sufficiently to start for Staunton and go on and destroy the Virginia Central road and the canal. Time advanced until he set the 28th of February for starting. I informed Thomas and directed him to change the course of Stoneman toward Lynchburg to destroy the road in Virginia up as near to that place as possible. Not hearing from Thomas I telegraphed to him about the 12th to know if Stoneman was yet off. He replied that he had not but that he (Thomas) would start that day for Knoxville to get him off as soon as possible. Sheridan has made his raid and with splendid success so far as heard. I am looking for him at White-day. Since about the 20th of last month of Richmond papers have been prohibited from publishing accounts of army movements. We are left to our own resources, therefore, for information. You will see from the papers what Sheridan has done. If you do not the officer who bears this will tell you all. Lee has depleted his army but very little recently and I learn of none going south. Some regiments may have been detached, but I think no division or brigade. The determination seems to be to hold Richmond as long as possible. I have a force sufficient to leave enought to hold our lines, all that is necessary of them, and move out with plenty to whip his whole army. But the roads are entirely impassable. Until they improve I shall content myself with watching Lee and be prepared to pitch into him if he attempts to evacuate the place. I may bring Sheridan over; I think I will, and break up the Danville and South Side railroads. These are the last avenues left to the enemy. Recruits have come in so rapidly at the West that Thomas has now about as much previous orders would go to him, except those from Illinois. Fearing the possibility of the enemy falling back to Lynchburg, and afterward attempting to go into East Tennessee or Kentucky, I have ordered Thomas to move the Fourth Corps to Bull's Gap and to fortify there, and to hold out to the Virginia line if he can. He has accumulated a large amount of supplies in Knoxville and has been ordered not to destroy any of the railroad west of the Virginia line. I told him to get ready for a campaign toward Lynchburg, if it became necessary. He never can make one there or elsewhere, but the steps taken will prepare for any one else to take his troops and come east or go toward Rome, whichever may be necessary. I do not believe either will. When I hear that you and Schofield are together with your back upon the coast I shall feel that you entirely safe against anything the enemy can do. Lee may evacuate Richmond, but he cannot get there with fouch you. His army is now demoralized and deserting very fast, both to us and to their homes. A retrograde movement would cost him thousands of men, even if we did not follow. Five thousand men belonging to the corps with you are now on their way to join you. If more re-enforcements are necessary I will send them. My notion is that you should get Raleigh as soon as possible and hold the railroad from there back. This may take more force than you now have. From that point all North Carolina roads can be made useless to the enemy without keeping up communications with the rear. Hoping to hear soon of your junction with the forces from Wilmington and New Berne.

I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,