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Headquarters Sewell Mountain,

October 20, 1861

General John B. Floyd,

Commanding Army of Kanawha:

 

General: It has been reported to me tonight that General Rosecrans was sending a strong a detachment across New River to intercept you. I believe he is aware of yiu having crossed New River, but if the report I have just stated above is correct, it differs from the report brought me last night by Lieutenant Callison, of Captain Jones’ company, Wise’s Legion, just from Fayette Court-House. He was aware of no considerable force of the enemy being south of the Kanawha. Predatory excursions had been made across that river. Fayette Court-House was, in the opinion of the citizens, being threatened, but he was not aware of any force being sent towards your route. I consider it, however, sufficiently important to send a special courier to out you on your guard.

I must also inform you that General Loring has received dispatches tonight from Generals Jackson and Donelson confirmatory of several previous reports indicative of attacks on both their lines, and calling earnestly for aid. I have resisted these appeals for some time, and retained General Loring’s command here, in the hope of uniting in an attack with your force from the left bank of the Kanawha on General Rosecrans, who still holds his main force on the Gauley. I do not think it proper to retain General Loring any longer, as General Donelson thinks himself unable to maintain his position, and I have not heard what time you expect to make your contemplated movement down the Kanawha.

I shall therefore direct General Loring to commence his return to his line of operations tomorrow, and shall also send the Wise Legion to Meadow Bluff. Thi9s latter movement is the more necessary in consequence of the exposed condition of the Wilderness road since the withdrawal of your cavalry from that route and the advance upon it of the enemy’s scouts. It would be useless for it, in my opinion, to remain longer here, as it could accomplish no good purpose, and would be liable to be cut off.

It will be necessary for you to keep yourself informed of the enemy’s movements on this side of the river, so as to secure this road against his approach. On reaching Meadow Bluff I will inform you of the probable time of my return to Richmond.

Should your descent on the Kanawha cause the enemy to withdraw from the Gauley, as I believe it will, it will tend to the greater security of this section.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,

General, Commanding

 

 

Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 5, pp. 908-909

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 November 12