May 24, 1862 – 5 p.m.
Major-General McDOWELL, Fredericksburg:
General Frémont has been ordered by telegraph to move from Franklin on Harrisonburg to relieve General Banks, and capture or destroy Jackson's and Ewell's forces.
You are instructed, laying aside for the present the movement on Richmond, to put 20,000 men in motion at once for the Shenandoah, moving on the line or in advance of the line of the Manassas Gap Railroad. Your object will be to capture the forces of Jackson and Ewell, either in co-operation with General Frémont or, in case want of supplies or of transportation interferes with his movements, it is believed that the force with which you move will be sufficient to accomplish this object alone. The information thus far received here makes it probable that if the enemy operate actively against General Banks you will not be able to count upon much assistance from him, but may even have to release him.
Reports received this moment are that Banks is fighting with Ewell 8 miles from Winchester.
Order General Shields to take up his line of march to-morrow for Catlett's.
SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 12, Part 3 (Serial No. 18), p. 219