Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February 13, 1863 (Friday): Stuart Sent On An Errand

General J. E. B. Stuart

FREDERICKSBURG, February 13, 1863.
General J. E. B. STUART,
Commanding Cavalry:
    GENERAL: The present seems favorable for an attempt to limit the operations of General Milroy in the Shenandoah Valley, if he cannot be dislodged.
     Not deeming it prudent to detach any infantry for the expedition, I desire you to select from General Fitz. Lee's brigade of cavalry such men and horses as may be fit for the service, and to direct their commander to proceed to Upperville, and thence into the Valley, by Snickersville, unless circumstances should determine otherwise.
     If you think if advisable, and the condition of his horses will permit, you can also from a detachment from General Hampton's brigade, either to watch the enemy east of the Blue Ridge or to join you, as you may deem best.
     General W. E. Jones, commanding the Valley District, will be directed, with all his available force, to report to you, and it is suggested that you proceed to New Market, or such other point in the Valley as you may prefer, where he can join you. With the infantry in the Valley, you can threaten Winchester in front, while with the cavalry, it is advised, you cut off its communication with Martinsburg, threaten the latter place, if you cannot drive the enemy from it, destroy as much of the railroad as possible, and damage the enemy otherwise to the extent of your ability.
     It is probable that Fitz. Lee's brigade, by seizing the railroad near Kearneysville, and destroying the bridge over the Opequon might, with caution, capture a train of cars. You must endeavor to learn the periods of the arrival of the cars at Martinsburg and of the passage of the wagon trains to Winchester.
     Your particular attention must be given to the comfort of your men and horses, and, should circumstances now unforeseen render it inexpedient, in your judgment, with a due regard to their future usefulness and service, upon your reaching the Valley, to carry out the object of the expedition, you are desired to limit or abandon it at your discretion.
     It is desirable that you gain all information you can of the general plans of the enemy, and especially whether any troops have been sent west over the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and all intelligence bearing upon the future movements of the Federal Army of the Potomac.
      Commending you to a kind Providence, and your own good judgment, I am, with high respect, your obedient servant,

     R. E. LEE,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Page 621.

Milroy was a high priority for the Confederate high command.  Virginia politicians were naturally concerned for the welfare of citizens there.  Beyond that, Milroy's various proclamations and policies with regard to treatment of civilians were considered beyond the pale.  If tolerated they would increase civilian demoralization.  Lee appears also to have found Milroy's conduct personally offensive and was intent on suppressing his activities. 

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