Hdqrs: 7 March ‘63



I have recd your letters of the 4th & 5th Inst: I have as yet seen nothing to indicate a charge of purpose in the enemy to attack Charleston. If Wilmington is their object as supposed by Genl Whiting, it will be disclosed by the return of their mailed gunboats & army. Genl Beauregard will no doubt communicate the withdrawal of the enemy from his Dept: & then as soon as possible, if Wilmington should be pointed at, our troops should be drawn to that point. I see that Genl Foster has returned to Newberne, but as far as I can learn without his troops. I supposed this might be in consequence of his disagreement with Genl Hunter, & that leaving his forces with the latter officer, was an additional sign that the attack on Charleston or Savannah was not abandoned. Genl Burnside was reported a few days since to be in Washington city. As far as I can form an opinion, only three corps have been sent from Gen Hookers army to New Ports news, & by the last reports they were still there, & the indications shewed that they did not contemplate an immediate departure. I have estimated their force at about 21,000. All of our scouts agree, those from the enemys line as well as those on the Potomac, that only three corps have left. Seven remain. They also report that some disaffected regts: have been sent away on the plea of preventing contagion. These latter are reported to have gone to Washington, & to their states for the purpose of recruiting; & their plans to have been supplied by other regts: so that their strength is equal to what it was before the battle. Their Cavy force has been greatly augmented recently, & the report still is that they intend to advance by this route. It is also stated that the Corps sent to New Port News, is intended for Burnside & that he will operate in N. C. Genl Hooker has his Hdqrs: on Potomac creek near Brookes station. His army is located along the R. R. from Falmouth to Aquia, but the greater part near Aquia. There are no signs of farther embarkation of troops or collection of transports. The only steamers descending the Potomac are those apparently conveying supplies, towing barges sail vessels &c on which troops are seen but not more than returning absentees, convalescents &c __ would justify. Where the large force said to be landing at New Berne comes from, I cannot conceive. I hope you will be able to get accurate information, & put yourself in communication with Genl Beauregard, so as to be prepared for all emergencies. You had better keep yourself advised of the movements of the force at New Ports news. Very truly yours

R E Lee





Source: Digital scan of original letter, Cutts-Madison Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 October 4