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Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

November 2, 1863

Maj. Gen. Samuel Jones,

Commanding, &c.:

General: I have received your letter of the 22d ultimo, and regret that I cannot at this time spare any troops from this army to re-enforce you. General Meade is again advancing on this line, repairing the railroad as he moves forward.

I had desired to take advantage of any lull in his operations and the good weather of this fall to drive General Kelley’s forces out of Hardy and Hampshire, and make another attempt to interrupt transportation on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, but in the present condition of affairs, I am unable to re-enforce General Imboden, who thinks himself too weak to accomplish it.

You movement upon East Tennessee may attract the attention of the enemy in Northwestern Virginia, so as to prevent a combination of his forces upon General Imboden. I hope you will be able to occupy Knoxville. It is the best manner of securing the line of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad, and preventing the constant and annoying demonstrations against you, and I suggest that you unite your whole force, leaving out only detachments to observe the enemy and keep up appearances, while you strike rapid and strong blows upon the force in Tennessee. Should you not be able to do this, a movement upon Northwestern Virginia, combined with a movement of Imboden upon the railroad, might enable both detachments to injure the enemy.

As far as I can learn, I believe there is little probability of the threatened movement of Averell from Beverly, of which you advise me, nor have I any reason to believe that an advance will be made by him in that direction this fall.

It behooves us to be active, to give the enemy no rest, and to prevent his re-enforcing his army about Chattanooga, which now seems to be the important point of his operations.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant.

R E Lee





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 29, Part 2, pp. 815-816

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 December 7