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Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

January 23, 1863

His Excellency Jefferson Davis,

President of the Confederate States:

Mr. President: Appearances now indicate that the enemy intend to advance. They seem to be moving to the line of the Rappahannock. They have shown themselves opposite Port Royal. Our scouts also report the preparation of bridges on Mr. I. Seddon’s farm, to which point they are conveying their pontoons and artillery. In addition to the force reported near the mouth of the Rapidan, consisting of cavalry, artillery, and infantry, with their wagon trains, Captain Randolph reports, on the 20th, a force of cavalry, with twelve pieces of artillery, marching up the White Ridge road. No infantry was seen. This last named force may be intended to join hands with General Milroy, in the Shenandoah Valley, who has abandoned Moorefield and the South Branch of the Potomac, and has his advance at Front Royal.

Lieutenant Smith, of the “Black Horse Cavalry,” also reports that the portion of the Federal Army near Alexandria, presumed to be General Slocum’s command, crossed the Wolf Run Shoals on the 19th, and resumed its march on the 20th in the direction of Dumfries or Fredericksburg, moving as rapidly as possible, with a large train of wagons.  

It looks as if they intended to concentrate all their forces, and make a vigorous effort to drive us from our position. The storm of yesterday and the day before will prove unfavorable for their advance, as the roads have become heavy and the streams swollen. It will also operate unfavorably to our rapid concentration to oppose them at the point they may select.

I have requested General Cooper to direct all men and officers belonging to this army now in Richmond without authority, to return to their posts. I have also directed General W. E. Jones, should General Milroy cross the Blue Ridge, to follow with his whole force and unite with General Hampton.

If there are any available troops about Staunton or Richmond, it will be well to advance them toward this line.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant.

R E Lee,





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, pp. 1111

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 March 12