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Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

August 4, 1862

Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson,

Commanding Valley District:

General: I have just received your letter of this date. The letter of Mr. R. T. Scott, which I have read with much interest, I return. It carries with it an air of probability and truth. I have heard nothing further from Fredericksburg. General Stuart was yesterday to move with all his cavalry in that direction, with a view of penetrating the interdicted limits and ascertaining if possible the veiled movements of the enemy. I have not had time to hear. I cannot think their force there large, and believe it is concentrated in your front. You are right in not attacking them in their strong and chosen positions. They ought always to be turned as you propose, and thus force them on more favorable ground. I do not know that the central position you refer to will accomplish this, but you ought to know; I should think passing their left flank would. It is important the strength of the enemy at Fredericksburg should be ascertained, or your communication might be cut. The enemy on the James River seems unsettled in his plans. Yesterday he crossed the river with infantry, artillery, and cavalry, and seemed to threaten an advance on Petersburg, with a view of seizing that road. To-day some of his gunboats have moved up to Malvern Hill, and have taken position as if to sweep the ground preparatory to its occupation by a land force. In a day or two their object may be disclosed. They still, too, threaten Goldsborough from New Berne. General A. P. Hill carried with him an excess of transportation. The order for its return probably did not reach him in time for him to send it back. If so, and it reaches your army, you can retain it, as it will be required for other troops which I hope to send, but have it turned over to your quartermaster.

I am, very respectfully and truly,


R. E. Lee,



Source: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series 1, Vol. 12, Part 3, pp. 922-923