The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 6 by Abraham Lincoln
To General H. W. Halleck. October 24, 1863.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON,
Taking all our information together, I think it probable that Ewell's corps has started for East Tennessee by way of Abingdon, marching last Monday, say from Meade's front directly to the railroad at Charlottesville.
First, the object of Lee's recent movement against Meade; his destruction of the Alexandria and Orange Railroad, and subsequent withdrawal without more motive, not otherwise apparent, would be explained by this hypothesis.
Secondly, the direct statement of Sharpe's men that Ewell has gone to Tennessee.
Thirdly, the Irishman's [Northern Spy in Richmond] statement that he has not gone through Richmond, and his further statement of an appeal made to the people at Richmond to go and protect their salt, which could only refer to the works near Abingdon.
Fourthly, Graham's statement from Martinsburg that Imboden is in retreat for Harrisonburg. This last matches with the idea that Lee has retained his cavalry, sending Imboden and perhaps other scraps to join Ewell. Upon this probability what is to be done?
If you have a plan matured, I have nothing to say. If you have not, then I suggest that, with all possible expedition, the Army of the Potomac get ready to attack Lee, and that in the meantime a raid shall, at all hazards, break the railroad at or near Lynchburg.