Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 19, 1863 (Monday): Lee to Stuart

General J. E. B. Stuart


Major General J. E. B. STUART,
Commanding Cavalry:
    GENERAL: Your letter of 12 m., April 18, was received last night. I have been able as yet to learn nothing which goes to show the real intention of the enemy. As before stated, I do not think that Hooker
would venture to transfer the whole of his army to the York or James River unless Washington is more strongly defended than we are led to believe. Such may, however, be his intention, or he may intend to fall back to Alexandria, while sending off the regiments whose time has expired. It behooves us, therefore, to be on the alert, and to endeavor to ascertain what his movement means. It appears to me that he is rather more fearful of an attack from us than preparing to attack. His operations in front of you look rather to prevent your moving against his right or getting in his rear.
    In front of Fredericksburg he is picketed stronger than usual; he keeps two or three balloons up every and all day, I am told, and he brought up his gunboats in the Rappahannock as high as they venture to ascend. I wish very much I could send you more cavalry, and hope that Hampton will soon be able to join you. As regards the brigade in the Valley, I think it should be controlled by the commanding officer of the district so far as it concerns operations in that district, unless you are present there; otherwise it would relieve him of all responsibility, and perhaps deprive him of all power of accomplishing anything. All the regular returns relating to its organization, condition, &c., should be made to you, and I will so direct. His requisitions, I think, had better be made direct to Richmond, or it will cause great delay.
     I have written to General Jones not to let the threatening attitude of the enemy in your front, unaccompanied by an inroad into the Valley, prevent the expedition of which you are aware. I apprise you, that you may be prepared for non co-operation on that side of the Ridge. I believe the expedition is arranged for the 20th. I am glad you are able to get forage for your troops, and hope you will continue to succeed. If Colonel Corley can do anything, inform him.
     I am aware that from the superior strength of the enemy he will be able to overpower you at any one point, but believe, by your good management, boldness, and discretion, you will be able to baffle his designs. I do not think the enemy's infantry extend as high as Kelly's Ford. They have a picket at the United States Mine Ford and a strong reserve about Hartwood Church. They may extend to a higher point.
     I am very much obliged to you for the map of Antietam, and am glad to hear that Major [R. F.] Beckham is doing so well.
     I will see Colonel Corley about the horses for your artillery, but fear he can do nothing, there is such a demand upon him. Save your horses all you can. Put yourself in communication with the commanding officer in the Valley, and desire him to keep you informed of all matters of importance.
     I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    R. E. LEE,

Series I., Vol. 25, Part 2, Pages 736-737.

Stuart believed Hooker was going to transfer his forces back to the line of the James River, which Lee did not.  Lee advises Stuart he will not receive full support from Jones in the Valley on account of the expedition which was about to get underway to strike the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad at key points in West Virginia.

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