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Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia

December 12, 1862


Maj. Gen. Gustavus W. Smith,

Commanding, &c., Richmond, Va.:

eneral: I have received your letter of the 10th instant. The disposition of the troops that you stated appears to be judicious, and, as the enemy cannot attack all points at one time, from many of the points mentioned the troops could be concentrated upon that where an assault should be made. As regards Wilmington, troops from South Carolina could be thrown there upon an emergency, and recalled to their position when no longer required. But I have been in hopes that North Carolina would turn out all the troops within her borders at this time, and which could operate to such advantage on her eastern frontier. I think that if you will write to General Martin, he will make an effort to have this done.

I wrote to the honorable Secretary of War some days since that the Confederate troops in Western Virginia could, I thought, be drawn to Staunton, whence they could be used in the vicinity of Richmond, if not wanted in the Shenandoah Valley. I have heard of Milroy’s retiring in the direction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, of the troops that had been at New Creek moving down to Martinsburg, and of Slocum’s division having left Harper’s Ferry for Washington. Our scouts reported yesterday some transports having arrived at Aquia Creek, probably with these troops. I have had no confirmation of the report that Cox’s division had left the Kanawha Valley. I am glad that you have ascertained that the force in the vicinity of Suffolk is not so large as formerly reported. You will have heard that the enemy succeeded last evening in occupying Fredericksburg. We hold the hills around the town; I shall try and do them all the damage in our power when they move forward. I believe General Burnside’s whole army is at this point.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R E Lee





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, p. 1060

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 February 2