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Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

November 18, 1862—7.30 p.m.


General S. Cooper,

Adjutant and Inspector General, C. S. Army, Richmond:

General: The force of the enemy reported yesterday to be moving toward Fredericksburg is stated by one of my scouts to be Sumner’s corps. His cavalry, with one battery of horse artillery, reached Falmouth about 3 p.m., but was baffled in his attempt to cross the river by the force under Colonel Ball, Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry, four companies of Mississippi infantry, and Lewis’ battery of field artillery. The Sixty-first Virginia and the Norfolk Light Artillery Blues arrived at Fredericksburg this morning, and I have not heard of the occupation of the town by the enemy. I hope his advance has been successfully resisted. McLaws’ and Ransom’s divisions, of Longstreet’s corps, and General W. H. F. Lee’s cavalry brigade marched this morning for Fredericksburg; also Lane’s “long-range battery.” Should the enemy’s force only consist of Sumner’s corps, I think it will be held in check until his object is developed. General Jackson reports that the enemy’s force at Harper’s Ferry is being increased largely, and our scouts in Loudoun state that a large Federal force has returned to Middleburg, said to be Sigel’s corps, fearing that Jackson was advancing on their rear. Lieutenant-Colonel Dulany, Seventh Virginia Cavalry, while scouting in Loudoun on the 16th instant, captured 22 of the enemy. The passes in the Catoctin Mountains are guarded. I have at this point of my letter received a dispatch from General J. E. B. Stuart (dated 3 p. m. today), whom I directed to cross the Rappahannock this morning to ascertain the position of the enemy. He forced a passage at Warrenton Springs in the face of a regiment of cavalry and three pieces of artillery. When driven, they retired toward Bealeton. One of our scouts, who joined him north of the Rappahannock, informed him that the enemy on Sunday moved from Bealeton back to Warrenton Junction; thence their main body marched toward Fredericksburg. At the date of his note he had ascertained nothing further.

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

R E Lee





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 21, pp. 1017-1018

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 December 14