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Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

January 14, 1863


Hon. James A. Seddon,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:

Sir: Your letter of the 12th instant is received. In reply to that portion which refer to complaints of the inactivity of our troops in the valley, I can only say that General Jones, who has always borne a high character as an officer, was selected last fall by General Jackson to take command of the Valley district. His force was small, but was deemed at the time sufficient for the defense of the district, and proved so during the season when active operations could be successfully carried on in that mountainous country. Now the season is so far advanced, and the climate in that region being so severe, it is almost impracticable to operate with any hope of beneficial results. Nevertheless. General Jones was ordered to make an expedition to the South Branch of the Potomac, and endeavor to drive the enemy over the Potomac. He marched on Petersburg and Moorefield, and was partially successful; but his force being inadequate, was compelled to return to his former position. The enemy being much more numerous than our forces in the valley, it is impossible to protect every point from their incursions. It is also impossible to send at this time re-enforcements from this army, and as I know of nowhere else that they can be obtained, I fear we can afford but little protection to the Valley District this winter. General Jones, since his return from Moorefield, has been directed to organize the force in the valley, including Imboden’s and Davidson’s, and endeavor to curtail the operations of the enemy, if he cannot be forced to retire. A great difficulty that he labors under is the scarcity of provisions and forage, which cripples his movements and prevents the operation of a large force.

I herewith have the honor to transmit the report of General Jones of his expedition to Moorefield, &c.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, pp. 1092-1093

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 5