the enemy's intentions and in the hope of striking a blow at him, to take position from Beaver Dam Station to Frederick's Hall, so as to be on his flank should he move from Fredericksburg to Richmond or make an attempt toward Charlottesville from Culpeper. He writes me, under date of 17th, that from the reports received he was under the impression that Fredericksburg was being evacuated and the enemy was moving to Orange Court-House. He was therefore drawing nearer Gordonsville and collecting his troops at Louisa Court-House. This information from General Stuart would indicate a large force assembling at Winchester, which I do not credit. But it may be the enemy's intention to secure possession of the Valley, for which purpose they would seize the Central Railroad at Staunton and advance toward Charlottesville to cut off that communication with Lynchburg. The reports are so conflicting and sometimes opposing, and our people take up so readily all alarming accounts, which swell in their progress, that it is difficult to learn the truth till too late to profit by it. I think it is certain that heavy re-enforcements are reaching McClellan, and that they will leave no stone unturned to capture Richmond. I fear they will draw upon their Western army, leaving a force to maks ours, and thus render it unavailable to us. I hear nothing of Pemberton's troops or of the conscripts from the south. We must endeavor to arouse our people. This army is improving, increasing, reorganizing, and undergoing daily instruction. When we get the new officers in their places, I mean the present vacancies filled, their improvement willb e more apparent. I need not tell you that the whole division take stone from its commander. The brigade receives its share in addition to what is imparted from the brigadiers.
I am, with esteem, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS EAST OF ORGANGE COURT-HOUSE,
August 17, 1862.
From dispatches just received from General French it appears certain that General McClellan's force has escaped us. I feel greatly mortifield, for through the material damage dealt him in the battles of the Chickahominy was not as great as I could have wished, he must have been so morally shattered as to have induced the belief that the safety of his army required his retreat and to have caused his abandonment of his present attack on Richmond. This of itself I feel as a great relief, but he ought not to have got off so easily. This induces me to say what I have had on my mind for some time. I fear General Hill is not entirely equal to his present position. An excellent executive officer, he does not appear to have much administrative ability. Left to himself he seems embarrassed and backward to act. If the people would think so, I really believe French would make the better commander of the department. This is only for you to think about, but I fear all was not done that might have been done to harass and destroy our enemies, but I blame nobody but myself. General Hampton may have picked up some stragglers, but that is all I can now hope for. I can only conjecture two positions that he will now assume: To ascend the Rappahannock, occupy Fredericksburg, and threaten Richmond from there, or to unite with General Pope. It is possible that hearing of the advance of our army in this direction it may have been