this place, as well as any movmeent of the enemy from Fayetteville toward north or east in force, and send your reports here instead of to Goldsborough. Report your precise position, as changed, byr eturn courier.
JOHN B. SALE,
Petersburg, March 15, 1865.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding Dept. of North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida:
GENERAL: I received to-day by Major Saunders your letter of the 11th instant. You will probably have received by this time my communication of the same date, in whichI endeavored to describe to you my condition. You are right in supposing that the course you may be able to pursue will materially affect mine. If you are forced back from Raleigh, and we be deprived of the supplies from East North Carolina, I do not know how this army can be supported. Yet a disaster to your army will not improve my condition, and while I would urge upon you to neglect no opportunity of delivering the enemy a successful blow, I would not recommend you to engage in a general battle without a reasonable prospect of success. I think it more probable that Sherman will unite Schofield with him at Raleigh than that he will unite with Schofield near Kinston; but in either event an opportunity may occur for you and Bragg to unie upon one of their columns and crush it. I do not think I could maintain my position were I further to reduce my force. That you may understand my situation I will state that the supplies in Virginia are exhausted. The enemy has succeeded in cutting off the Weldon railroad, and my only reliance is the communication by Danville. Generala Grant has intrenched himself on both sides of James River, stretching toward the swamps of the Chickahominy on the north bank, and Hatcher's Run on the south. On this long line, with far inferior numbers, I confront him. His numerical superiority has been increased since detaching Hoke, Conner, and Hampton. His present preponderance in cavalry, and his ability unperceived to mass his troops while holding his intrnechments on either side of the river, enables him constantly to threaten our flanks and cuases legitimate apprehension for the safety of the Danville road. You will therefore perceive that if I contract my lines as you propose, with the view of holding Richmond, our only resource for obtaining subistence will be cut off, and the city must be abandoned; whereas, if I to maintain the road, Richmond will be lost. I think you can now understand the condition of affairs and correctly estimate the importance of resisting the farther advance of Sherman. But should that not be possible, you will also see that I cannot remain here, but must start out and seek a favorable opportunity for battle. I shall maintain my position as long as it apperas advisable, both from the moral and material advantages of holding Richmond and Virginia. If obliged to abandon it, so far as I can now see I shall be compelled to fall back to the Danville road for subistence, and unless that subsistence can be supplied from the State of North Carolina, I do not know whence it can be obtained. If Richmond is given up the sooner we can strike one of the columns of the enemy the better, but on which side of the