General Holmes has been told to send cavalry if needed.
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS TROOPS NEAR WELDON AND JACKSON,
Weldon, N. C., May 22, 1862.
Major A. ANDERSON,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Department of North Carolina:
MAJOR: I wish respectfully to state that I arrived here last evening with six companies of my regiment, having left four companies at Halifax to watch the river below that point and to guard the railroad bridge over Quankey Creek, distant from the river not more than three-quarters of a mile. Colonel Harrison's Louisiana regiment has been relieved and has moved in obedience to instructions received from Major-General Huger. Colonel Clarke's regiment, Twenty-fourth North Carolina Troops, and the battery, contisting of four pieces of artillery, now occupy a point on the river at Bridges's Ferry, nine miles below Halifax and about the same distance from the nearest point of the railroad. Fromall that I can learn without a personal examination this position is a good one. The obstructions ordered by the major-general commanding to be placed in the river, begun and partly completed at a point nine miles below Hamitlon by a Mr. Yarrell, have been swept away by the late rise in the river, leaving the river perfectly open without any defense to the passage of the enemy's gun-boats. I have just received a dispatch stating that a force of the enemy had established their headquarters at Plymouth. The dispatch is dated Albemarle Sounf, May 20, and does not state the strength of the enemy. Agreeably to the orders of the major-general commanding the cavalry has been ordered to join its regiment. This leaves the whole of thevalley of Roanoke and the line of the Roanoke and Seaboard road without any cavalry force whatever, and with only two regiments of infantry and four pieces of artillery for its protection. This force is, I think, entirely indeaquate to its defense, and I most earnestly recommend that at least five companies of cavalry, a regiment of infantry, and a battery of artillery be ordered here as soon as possible. The cavalry force is, I think absolutely indispensable. There is a large amount of cotton and bacon on that part of the line of Roanoke and Seaboard road yet unoccupied by the enemy which, with the protection that might be afforded by two or three companies of cavalry, could be brought to a place of safety. There is also a large amount of corn, cotton, and bacon on the river similarly situated. In addition to this, small parties of the enemy could leave their boats at some unguarded point on the river near the railway, reach and destroy before any intimation could be had of their advance.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
MIDDLETOWN, May 24, 1862 - 4 p. m.
[General R. S. EWELL:]
GENERAL: The enemy has retreated en masse toward Winschester. Major-General Jackson requests that you will move on Winchester with