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 Research ACW US War Dept. Official Records HTML Ser. I, Vol. 9, Ch. XIX–Confederate Correspondence.


January 11-March 17, 1862.
(Hampton Roads)


NEW YORK CITY, March 15, 1862.


Mr. Vanderbilt desires me to say lie can make no satisfactory reply to the inquiry made of him, but will be in Washington on Monday next to confer with the Department.



WASHINGTON, March 15, 1862.

Maj. Gen. GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN, Seminary:

In reply to your dispatch to this Department of yesterday [13th], which was transmitted to the Secretary of the Navy, he replies as follows:

NAVY DEPARTMENT, March 14, 1862.

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:

SIR: Yours, inclosing the dispatch of Major-General McClellan, suggesting that the Secretary of the Navy be requested “to order to Fort Monroe whatever force DuPont can now spare, as well as any available force that Goldsborough can send up, as soon as his present operations are completed,” has been received. If a movement is to be made upon Norfolk-always a favorite measure of this Department-instant measures will be taken to advise and strengthen Flag-Officer Goldsborough, but unless such be the case, I should be extremely reluctant to take any measure that would even temporarily weaken the efficacy of the blockade, especially at the points under the command of Flag-Officer DuPont. The importance of capturing Norfolk is, I know, deemed most indispensable by Flag-Officer Goldsborough, who will be happy to co-operate in a movement in that direction, and will, I need not assure you, have the active and earnest efforts of this Department to aid him with all the force that can be placed at his disposal.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,


The foregoing letter was received late last night.

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.



YORKTOWN, January 10, 1862.


DEAR SIR: I understand that my lines of defense are under discussion at Richmond. I know I can expect from you the justice to postpone any decision until I can report at length, which will be in a few days. In the mean time I will venture the remark that I have taken not only the best but the only way of successfully defending this Peninsula with the means at my disposal, and that its defense will be successful. I did not call out the militia though at one time I had determined to do so, but merely requested to be furnished with the strength of certain regiments, to prepare arms for them, which arms I could procure from the colonels of regiments belonging, as they informed me, to their States. I only desired to prepare for the emergency of a landing in this Peninsula or on the Rappahannock, which I now think more probable, or for an attack on James River. These arrangements required time. I therefore anticipated the emergency. Colonel Randolph informed {p.33} me that I was authorized by you to do this; that is, to call out all the militia I could arm.

Very respectfully,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.



ADJT. AND INSP. GEN.’S OFFICE, Richmond, January 16, 1862.


V. Authority is granted Major-General Magruder to call upon the commanding officers of all regiments, battalions, and companies, attached to the Army of the Peninsula, for the names of all ship carpenters and joiners in their respective commands, and to grant furloughs to such mechanics, for the purpose of working on gunboats in such numbers and at such times as the public safety may permit. All men so furloughed will be directed to report to the Secretary of the Navy.


By command of the Secretary of War:

JNO. WITHERS, Assistant Adjutant-General.



General S. COOPER, Adjutant-General C. S. Army, Richmond:

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt last night of a letter from the Secretary of War, expressing his disapprobation of my having impressed the slaves of Chesterfield County, and directing me to countermand it.

In answer I have to state that before the reception of this letter my agent, Mr. Junius Lamb, through whom I communicated my wishes to the people of Chesterfield, had informed me that nine-tenths of that community were willing to send their slaves to work on the public fortifications in this Peninsula, but that some four or five citizens objected, and employed counsel to proceed to Richmond to lay the case before the Secretary of War and President; that the counsel had returned, and stated that the President would issue a proclamation condemning this course and forbidding it for the future. I immediately wrote to you that this last call on Chesterfield and the neighboring counties was made to meet the requisitions of the engineers under my command until the negroes who were being hired by authority of the Government, which I found to be a slow operation, should arrive.

The Government had granted me authority to hire negroes, but I found it occupied more time and was attended with more difficulty than had been represented to me. The unsafe condition of the defenses on James River had been represented to the Department, in a report of the Chief of Artillery, Col. G. W. Randolph, and the engineer here in charge, Mr. St. John, which report was strongly indorsed by myself.

The work at Gloucester Point ordered by the Engineer Department at Richmond, was not half finished. The works at Yorktown, though {p.34} trebled in strength in the last two months, were then and still are unfinished, both as regards the protection of the men against the enemy’s shell, guns, and mortars by sea, as well as his attacks by land. As the War Department had sanctioned, during the administration of Mr. Walker, my calling on the people for slave labor to work on the fortifications in my charge, and as my instructions were to push these fortifications to completion, I considered it proper in itself and necessary to the faithful obedience of my orders to continue using, as before, this labor until the exercise of the authority granted me by the Government to hire slaves should be successful in procuring the requisite labor. It was intended to be my last call.

The counties of the Peninsula and neighborhood having furnished negroes frequently, I thought it prudent to call upon the counties of Chesterfield and Dinwiddie for this last supply, and I believe I have exercised the power (recognized by the War Department) with discretion. Nevertheless, I immediately directed Mr. Lamb not to take any further steps with reference to the county of Chesterfield, and as he informed me that he had an appointment to meet the negroes from Dinwiddie at Petersburg, I instructed him to keep it, but not to bring any whose masters objected in the least to their coming. This course, pursued before the reception of your letter, I presume meets with the approbation of the War Department and the President. I received a letter last night from Captain Rives, temporarily in charge of the Engineer Department at Richmond, stating in effect that he was not prepared to undertake the hiring of negroes for the works here or their control.

All the negroes are discharged from Yorktown with the exception of 160, about 130 of these being procured from the county of Greenville by calling upon the inhabitants to furnish the labor; it is reported to me that they furnished these men with pleasure. The number required by the works here is about 400. At Mulberry Island, on James River, there are about 30; 200 are required there, and at least 200 at Gloucester Point, where there are, I think, not more than 50, though I have not inquired within the last week.

Under these circumstances I beg that I may be furnished without delay with precise instructions which the War Department, I hope, is well assured will be executed with promptness to the letter and spirit.

I beg that this communication may be laid before the President through the Secretary of War. Inclosed are copies of two letters from General Lee. That containing his original instructions to which allusion is made in one of the inclosed is mislaid, but doubtless will soon be found among the papers in the office.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.

P. S.-You will also receive a copy of a communication from the War Department fully approving my course in impressing slaves.

[Inclosure No. 1.]


Col. J. B. MAGRUDER, Commanding, &c., Yorktown:

COLONEL: Two 12-pounder brass pieces have been directed to be sent you at Yorktown, which may be applied to the land defenses either {p.35} below Yorktown or Williamsburg, as you may deem best. Two 8-inch columbiads are also sent to you at Yorktown, and if not wanted for the water defense they had better be applied to the land, either there or at Williamsburg.

I again urge upon you the necessity of the line of defenses between the heads of Queen and College Creeks, about which Colonel Ewell has already received instructions. Colonel Ewell had better be directed to apply all the force he can procure to the erection of those lines. Captain Rives and Meade, of the Engineer Corps, are on duty in the Peninsula, and subject to your orders. Should the lines below Williamsburg not have been surveyed and laid out, they had better be put at it directly.

I am, sir, very respectfully, &c.,

R. E. LEE, Major-General, Commanding.

[Inclosure No. 2.]


Col. J. B. MAGRUDER, Commanding, &c., Yorktown, Va.:

COLONEL: In answer to your letter of the 9th instant, just received I take pleasure in expressing my gratification at the movements and dispositions that you have made, and hope that you may be able to restrict the advances of the enemy and securely maintain your own position.

On the day after my return to Richmond forty-two wagons were ordered to be sent you. Twelve were sent day before yesterday, twelve on yesterday, twelve more will be sent to-morrow, and the others as soon as possible.

As you are aware that it is probable when an effort is made to attack you it will be both by land and water, I take this occasion of urging upon you the importance of pressing the construction of the batteries for water and land defenses.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE, General, Commanding.

[Inclosure No. 3.]

WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, September 24, 1861.

Col. J. B. MAGRUDER, Williamsburg, Va.:

SIR: In reply to your letter of the 20th instant, referred by the Adjutant-General to this Department, I am directed by the Secretary of War to say that your course in impressing labor for work upon fortifications in cases of absolute necessity and for a fair price is fully approved.


A. T. BLEDSOE, Chief Bureau of War.


WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, Va., January 27, 1862.

Maj. Gen. J. B. MAGRUDER, Yorktown, Va.:

SIR: In response to your letter of the 23d instant, on the subject of the impressment of slaves in the counties of Chesterfield and Dinwiddie, I beg to say that you misapprehend the point on which the interference of this Department was invoked. There is no desire or intention of interfering with your discretion in impressing whatever may be necessary for the public defense within your department whenever your wants cannot be supplied by contract, although, of course, this power of impressment should be exercised as sparingly as possible. The point of difficulty was that you went out of your district into the district of another general. You will see at a glance that if a general goes out of his district to exercise such a power he must necessarily come in conflict with the orders of the neighboring commander, and that the inhabitants might have two or more sets of officers all at the same time exercising this very harsh and necessarily odious power. I trust, therefore, that in future you will confine your action, when outside of your district, to contracts, and confine the exercise of the power of impressment to the geographical limits of your own command.

Your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.


Abstract from return of the Department of the Peninsula,, Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder commanding,for January, 1862.

Command.Present for duty.Aggregate present.Aggregate present and absent.Pieces of artillery.
Brig. Gen. G. J. Rains’:
Yorktown and vicinity and Ship Point2533,7285,5556,9654829
Brig. Gen. L. McLaws’:
Young’s, Harrod’s, and Lee’s Mills, Mulberry Point, Land’s End, &c.2264,8166,1377,478
Col. B. S. Ewell’s:
Williamsburg and vicinity41588792928
Colonel Crump’s:
Gloucester Point719661,3791,846
Col. fill Carter’s:186
Col. Robt. Johnston’s:
Lebanon Church and vicinity15262314463
Colonel Bohannan’s:
Matthews County (militia)313503915444


Organization of the troops in the Department of the Peninsula, commanded by Maj. Gen. J. Bankhead Magruder, C. S. Army, January 31, 1862.

  • Yorktown, vicinity, and Ship Point.
    Brig. Gen. G. J. RAINS, commanding.
    • 13th Alabama.
    • 2d Florida.
    • 6th Georgia.
    • 23d Georgia.
    • 14th Louisiana.
    • Louisiana Zouave Battalion,
    • 2d Mississippi.
    • 15th North Carolina.
    • 32d Virginia (2 companies).
    • 53d Virginia (8 companies).
    • 115th Virginia Militia.
    • Maurin’s Louisiana Battery.
    • Nelson’s battery.
    • 1st Virginia (3 companies) Artillery.
    • Bouton’s independent company.
    • De Gournay’s independent company.
    • Duke’s independent company.
    • Ellett’s independent company.
    • Peyton’s independent company.
    • Preston’s independent company.
    Serving as heavy artillery.
  • Mulberry Point Battery, Land’s End, &c.
    Brig. Gen. LA FAYETTE MCLAWS, commanding.
    • 8th Alabama.
    • Cobb’s Legion.
    • 10th Georgia.
    • 16th Georgia.
    • Greenville Guards.
    • 2d Louisiana.
    • 5th Louisiana.
    • 10th Louisiana.
    • 14th Virginia.
    • 15th Virginia.
    • 32d Virginia (2 companies).
    • 53d Virginia (1 company).
    • 3d Virginia (4 companies) Cavalry.
    • 1st Virginia (5 companies) Artillery.
  • Gloucester Point.
    Col. C. A. CRUMP commanding.
    • 26th Virginia.
    • 9th Virginia Militia.
    • 21st Virginia Militia.
    • 87th Virginia Militia.
    • 3d Virginia (1 company) Cavalry.
    • 1st Virginia (1 company) Artillery.
    • Bagby’s company Virginia volunteers.
    • Jordan’s company Virginia volunteers.
    • Montague’s company Virginia volunteers.
    • Otey’s company Virginia volunteers.
    Serving as heavy artillery.
  • Williamsburg and Spratley’s.
    Col. B. S. EWELL, commanding.
    • 1st Louisiana Battalion.
    • 32d Virginia (2 companies).
    • 53d Virginia (1 company).
  • Matthews County.
    Col. J. G. BOHANNAN, commanding.
    • 61st Virginia Militia.
    • Captain Todd’s company Virginia Cavalry.
  • Lebanon Church and cavalry camps near Yorktown.
    Col. R. JOHNSTON, commanding.
    • 3d Virginia (6 companies) Cavalry.
  • Jamestown Island.
    Col. HILL CARTER, commanding.
    • 52d Virginia Militia.
    • 1st Virginia (1 company) Artillery.
    • Jordan’s independent company Virginia Artillery.
    • Rambaut’s independent company Virginia Artillery.


Abstract from return of the Department of Norfolk, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Huger, commanding, for January, 1862.

Command.Troops.Present for duty.Aggregate present.Aggregate present and absent.Pieces of artillery.
SmithfieldFirst (Colston’s) Brigade1472,7523,3293,63746
NorfolkSecond (Mahone’s) Brigade2313,7154,7565,22464
PortsmouthThird (Blanchard’s) Brigade2273,8104,7765,1776
Craney Island Garrisons 3452568774744
Fort Nelson814015418416
Fort Norfolk482949414
Pinner’s Point.410812315211
Tanner’s Point35261685
Lambert’s Point.79311913510
Saunders’ artillery battalion3314547
Young Guard4768093

* 24 pieces field and 192 pieces heavy artillery.


HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE PENINSULA, Yorktown, Va., February 1, 1862.

SIR: I have been so constantly occupied since my arrival on this Peninsula that I have not had time to make to the War Department the reports necessary, perhaps, to a clear understanding of my operations. When I took command there were no works on the James River below Jamestown, no fortifications at Williamsburg, Yorktown, or Gloucester Point, with the exception of one gun at Yorktown and perhaps two at Gloucester Point. I had to defend a Peninsula 90 miles in length and some 10 miles in width, inclosed between two navigable rivers, terminated by fortresses impregnable as long as the enemy commanded the waters. My force was less than 3,000 men, the enemy never less than 12,000 and sometimes as high as 25,000, and always within a day’s march of us. I had neither adjutant, quartermaster, commissary, nor any staff officer whatever, and an army unfamiliar with the simplest military duties.

I devoted a day or two to necessary arrangements for subsisting the army, and, calling on the sheriff of the county as a guide, made a tour on horseback of the lower part of the Peninsula, in order to get some knowledge of the country. Seeing at a glance that three broad rivers could not be defended without fortifications, and that these never could be built if the enemy knew our weakness and want of preparation, I determined to display a portion of my small force in his immediate presence, and upon this forthwith selected Bethel as a place at which a small force could best give him battle should he advance.

Returning to Yorktown, I called upon Mr. R. D. Lee, who had mills on that stream, to show me the line of Warwick River, which rises near Yorktown flows across the county, and enters James River a little below Mulberry Point, where there is now a fort. Having made this exploration, I determined to adopt this line to Mulberry Point as the true line of defense whenever its right flank, on James River, could be protected by water batteries.


The road to Richmond was open by the York or James Rivers, landing in the latter case below Jamestown. It was therefore necessary to erect defensive works in front of Williamsburg and at Yorktown to oppose an immediate advance. Jamestown Island, having been fortified when I took command, would constitute the right flank; the works at Williamsburg the center, and York River and Yorktown the left flank; but Yorktown being 12 miles farther down the river than Williamsburg or Jamestown, the enemy could land at any time on James River below Williamsburg, march across to York River above Yorktown, and cut it off entirely from its supplies, thus reducing it in a very short time even if it were fortified, Hence it became necessary to erect works as soon as possible at some point on James River below or opposite Yorktown, so that a line across the Peninsula perpendicular to its axis should have both its flanks resting upon water defenses impassable by ships. These two are the lowest points which can be defended against the passage of fleets. To erect these several works, however, and fortify the lines here indicated would obviously be a work of immense labor, requiring, when prosecuted with the most determined energy, seven or eight months to complete them.

The chances were extremely remote for success in such an undertaking, and there was but one way that furnished the remotest hope that the Peninsula could be defended at all with the means then at the disposal of our Republic, and that was by active and threatening operations in front, to make the enemy fear for himself, while the positions were being most vigorously fortified in rear. This plan was adopted by me, and the enemy on his first advance, with a force of five to one against us, having been repulsed and severely punished, the works were pushed forward with great vigor.

The operations below (in front of) the enemy were, however, always carried on with the liability of having a large force of the enemy thrown in the rear of our forces by the Back or Poquosin Rivers, the former having 10, the latter 18, feet of water. I could not, therefore, hold my position in front without building such works on the most navigable of these rivers as would defend its entrance against the enemy’s vessels. Hence the work at Ship Point was built (by the labor of the troops and by my order), and completely commands the entrance to that river. I also felt the great disadvantage, when skirmishing with the enemy so near his fortress, that his re-enforcements were at hand, while mine were at so great a distance. I therefore availed myself of the near approach of the Poquosin River and Deep Creek, on James River, for the establishment of a convenient base of operations from which I could draw re-enforcements and supplies when needed below, and which I could defend with success if attacked by superior numbers by laud.

For these reasons, and to prevent the enemy from occupying this strong position himself I fortified the lines of Harrod’s and Young’s Mills the flanks resting, as I before said, upon Poquosin River and Deep Creek, entering the York and James Rivers respectively. I also fortified the mouth of Deep Creek and Warwick River, sinking thirty canal-boats across the channel. This line could still be turned by the enemy landing between Yorktown and Poquosin River, but I hoped to be able to defend a landing between these points by erecting fortifications there before the enemy made the attempt.

In the mean time winter approached and it was necessary to decide where the troops should build winter quarters. I directed them to build on the front line. While this was being done intelligence arrived of {p.40} Burnside’s preparations for, an attack. Indications from the most authentic sources pointed to this region as that on which the attack would be made, and the question arose, Should the army receive the attack on the first or second lines? The engineers were in favor of the second line as the safest, the front line being liable to be turned by the landing of the enemy on York River, on our left flank. Fully appreciating the reasons for this advice, and concurring in the opinion as to the many physical advantages offered by the second line, I nevertheless was satisfied that it would injure the morale of the army to fall back from its position at Young’s and Harrod’s Mills, where winter quarters had been built for some of the regiments. I therefore directed that the heavy baggage and sick be sent to the rear, and that the troops on the front line who had not built their winter quarters should build them, and all on that line should fight where they were, while the rest of the troops who had not built winter quarters should build them on the flanks of the second line, and that good roads, of easy communication, should be made from the first to the second line. By this means, if the enemy attacked in front alone, the troops on the first line could be supported by those from the flanks of the second line, if attacked in front and both flanks.

Our troops in front had as strong a central position on that line as they would have had on the second, and a greater certainty of victory, as they would fight on better ground for us, and the flanks of the second line, resting on the river, would be stronger to resist a naval attack. This disposition was also made to defend the left exposed flank between Yorktown and the Poquosin River, so that if the enemy did land there he would be held in check sufficiently long to give time to our troops on the first line to fall back with deliberation and safety to the second line. Thus all would be accomplished in the end that the advocates of this measure desired and without unnecessary loss of morale.

This decision carried with it the additional recommendation, that if the attack were delayed for any considerable time the advance of the enemy, should he land on the left flank, below Yorktown, might not only be checked, but such works erected as would prevent a landing altogether, and thus secure both lines, and make the investment of Yorktown by land highly improbable.

I have the satisfaction to state that this has been the result and that this position, the left flank, to defend which made it necessary for me to ask for re-enforcements of several thousand men five weeks ago, is now considered one of the strongest of my lines, and can, I think, be successfully defended by the troops which are now there, as I reported to you, before the sailing of Burnside’s fleet, would be the case in a few days.

You will perceive by this statement that there are no troops in winter quarters at Bethel, which is held only by a strong picket. It has never been occupied at any time but for a few days at a time, being a convenient stopping place for the troops in their operations below it.

I beg leave to report what remains to be done:

First. The lower defenses on James River are exceedingly weak, and ought to be strengthened without delay by building another battery at Mulberry Point and placing guns in the embrasures of the battery already prepared at Harden’s Bluff, opposite. Harden’s Bluff and Mulberry Point should then be made impregnable on the land side, which can easily be done.

Second. The number of guns at Yorktown has not yet reached the minimum stated by the engineers to be necessary for the successful {p.41} defense of the place, and while I differ with them, and think it is strong enough to resist what the United States can bring against them at present, as I lately stated in an order to the troops, yet such formidable preparations are being made at the North-of steel-clad ships and floating mortar batteries-that no time should be lost in preparing adequate means to resist such an attack. For this purpose the 64-pounder 8-inch guns, firing solid shot, of the pattern of one on board the Patrick Henry, placed in casemates at the narrowest part of the river, would be most effective in breaking to pieces the steel-clad ships. Six of them would answer the purpose. In addition to these, there should be at least six of the heaviest mortars cast for this place and six for Harden’s Bluff, by means of which the enemy’s bomb ships may be reached.

Galleries cut into the side of the ravines leading down to the water are necessary for the protection of the stores and of the troops when asleep or not on duty during a bombardment or siege. These galleries and the casemated batteries for six guns I have directed to be made, and they are now being built; and if the guns asked for, like that on the Patrick Henry, cannot be procured, the ordinary 8-inch columbiad would be the next best, or heavy rifled guns.

The works on the land side at Yorktown are still incomplete, two redoubts being required to command dangerous ravines, and a portion of the river lines are to be completed. The works at Gloucester Point, ordered by the engineers from Richmond, are but half finished, and until finished that post will remain in great danger. If the Government cannot furnish guns at Yorktown and the lower forts on James River, I request that I may be allowed to take without delay the heavy guns from Jamestown Island and mount them at Harden’s Bluff and Mulberry Point, and that the command of Harden’s Bluff be transferred to me, as it is exclusively a defense of James River and not of Norfolk. The narrow channel of the river at Jamestown Island does not require guns of such heavy caliber as the channel below, at Harden’s Bluff.

In connection with this subject permit me to say, that should the expedition of Burnside fail to accomplish the evident purpose of General McClellan, to weaken our army in his front by forcing re-enforcements from it to other points, a landing in force on the Rappahannock might be resorted to by him for the same purpose and might embarrass us greatly. As the York River is broad and difficult to cross between here and West Point inclusive, I do not think it necessary to make any further defenses at the latter place, but think that the formation of an intrenched camp between the Mattapony and Pamunkey Rivers, commanding the main roads leading from Urbana and Tappahannock to Richmond for the reception of troops, should Richmond be threatened in that way, would be highly important. A few thousand troops from this and a few thousand from General Holmes’ command could be thrown on the enemy’s flanks and embarrass greatly his operations. I might cross over to Gloucester, say with 5,000 men, and march against the left flank of his 25,000 or 30,000 men. He would probably turn aside to crush me, but I should retreat, skirmishing to Gloucester Point, and if that work were finished, he would be obliged to retrace his steps or lay siege to It. If he disregarded my approach and marched forward to Richmond, General Holmes and myself would unite in his rear and cut him off from his base while our troops were being assembled in the intrenched camp in his front. He would thus be defeated.

Should Burnside’s expedition march from Edenton to Suffolk, after {p.42} taking Roanoke Island, to meet Casey’s division from Fort Monroe, I might cross the James River with a small portion of my force and assist in preventing a junction of their troops; but the propriety of making either of these movements depends entirely upon the completion of the works on this Peninsula, for if I leave them in their present state, defended with few troops, the enemy will advance from Fort Monroe and carry them; hence my desire to procure negro labor to complete them. I have impressed the negroes of the counties composing my department so often, that it would be oppressive and unjust in the extreme to call upon them again to do the work in which all are interested. I therefore called upon some of the counties out of my department which never had furnished any labor, and a very large majority would have furnished it with pleasure, but a few persons employed a lawyer to raise objections at the War Department, and my orders were disapproved and countermanded; the works are therefore making but little progress. The quantity of labor necessary in this department is greater, perhaps, than that required in all the departments in Virginia put together, and I beg that I may be allowed to repeat my call on the counties in question out of my department in order to save time, which is so precious.

The works on the lower James River being very weak, I desired to have some troops in the fortifications in front of Williamsburg, as the enemy, should he succeed in passing up James River, might occupy those fortifications, now almost without a man, and a great disaster might happen. As my troops were necessary below, I asked for authority to call out the militia of certain counties to man these works, should it become necessary. I procured arms for them from officers who had control of these arms, but were willing to lend them for that purpose. I obtained the authority through Colonel Randolph from the President and Governor Letcher to call out the militia, but did not use it. I desired only that their colonels would send to me an account of the number of men in each regiment and the number of shot-guns which could be procured.

This course seems not to have been acceptable to the War Department which I regret.

I beg that this communication may be laid before, the Secretary of War and the President, and I respectfully invite their attention to what remains to be done in the department under my command.

I have to state, also, that two light batteries, with re-enforcements of infantry to the number of 4,000, are said to have arrived at Fort Monroe as part of the permanent force there, and that on sending a flag of truce to Hampton, a few days since, it was discovered by our officers that soldiers’ quarters were being erected in Hampton, showing that more troops were expected, and that they would remain there some time, winter quarters for the troops already there having been previously built.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.

General S. COOPER, Adjutant-General C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.


WILLIAMSBURG, February 7, 1862.

Professor JOYNES, War Department:

DEAR SIR: The opportunity of putting the Peninsula in a state of {p.43} comparative security, by completing the defensive works begun and in part finished, before the spring campaign opens, has not, I regret to say, been improved as it ought to have been. The value of these works in protecting the James and York Rivers, and with the former the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad (so accessible from many points en the James), whether we look at what may be required or at what they have already accomplished, cannot well be estimated in dollars and cents. As a citizen you are directly interested, and you will, by giving your aid, be doing good, individual and general. Not less than 1,000 or 1,500 negroes ought to be at work, and in six weeks, with this force, would the defenses be finished and rendered well-nigh impregnable. The counties south and west of Richmond can well afford to furnish this labor. General Magruder has so frequently impressed the local labor, that he is not willing to make another call without an order from the War Department to this effect, and thus the works are comparatively at a stand still. He has done all in his power. So important do I consider this, I would at once write to the Secretary did not my position forbid it.

Yours, sincerely,

BENJ. S. EWELL, Colonel, Virginia Volunteers.


RICHMOND, VA., February 15, 1862.

Colonel EWELL, Commanding, Williamsburg:

SIR: You will immediately organize, on paper, all the nurses, employés of the Government of every department, to be ready at a moment’s notice to defend the works in front of Williamsburg, and lay aside arms and ammunition for the same.

You will also prepare arms for any citizens, of whatever age, who are willing to turn out and assist in holding the works in front of Williamsburg should the lower defenses at Jamestown be passed.

The most important points to be defended are Tetter’s Neck and Fort Magruder. You will place the negroes at the service of Mr. Derrick, the engineer, for the purpose, 1st, of preparing without the slightest delay the forts already constructed for the reception of guns; and, 2d, of completing such works as may be unfinished. Infantry must be put on the right of Tetter’s Neck to prevent its being turned, and what you may have must be put at once in position. Have men assigned to it and drilled, ammunition prepared, and the pieces fired by the men several times.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain Lee’s company and the One hundred and fifteenth Regiment Militia are ordered to report to you; you will dispose of them in the best manner possible.

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.



Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:

SIR: I have reliable information that the enemy are sending strong re-enforcements to Old Point as well as to Tennessee, and I hear, for {p.44} this purpose, are withdrawing large numbers from Manassas. Within the last week several thousand men have been sent up to Newport News and more are to go. General Burnside is also being re-enforced, and the numbers collected on both sides of this place are becoming powerful armies. They threaten such long lines it is difficult for me to tell where to concentrate my forces, and, until I know more than at present have to keep my forces near the lines of railroad.

The Ericsson (iron-clad) battery has arrived in the Roads, and will probably get one of our batteries to test her resisting qualities. I hear she carries two 11-inch guns.

I write this to call the attention of the Government to the probability of this place being severely threatened by powerful forces, and a general attack may be expected in a week or more. From the same source I hear the mortar fleet as it is termed, is destined for New Orleans.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

BENJ. HUGER, Major-General, Commanding Department.


YORKTOWN, VA., February 24, 1862.

General S. COOPER, Adjutant and inspector General, Richmond:

SIR: I have the honor to state that on the 21st I received a dispatch from General Huger, stating that four transports, loaded with troops, had been sent to Newport News, and another dispatch from Captain Norris, my signal officer at Norfolk, that three regiments had been landed at Fort Monroe.

I beg leave further to state I reported on the 20th instant that the roads here were in extremely bad order. They are so much worse that it is very doubtful if artillery can be carried down the country, and it will be positively necessary to diminish the usual amount of ammunition by one-half if carried.

I am also satisfied that no one ship can produce such an impression upon the troops at Newport News as to cause them to evacuate the fort. The demoralization to our troops under similar circumstances has been produced by a concentration of fire from many ships at different points. No important advantages can be obtained by the Merrimac further than to demonstrate her power, which, as she is liable to be injured by a chance shot at this critical time, had better be reserved to defeat the enemy’s serious efforts against Norfolk and James River.

I have the honor to request that this communication be laid before the President through the Secretary of War.

I have failed in my efforts to get the substance of the above through by telegraph.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.


ADJT. AND INSP. GEN.’S OFFICE, Richmond, February 25, 1862.


XVIII. Major-General Magruder will so dispose of the forces under {p.45} his command and make necessary preparations as to be able to move across the James River all forces that can be spared from his batteries and intrenchments to co-operate in the repulse of the enemy from any threatened attack on Suffolk or other approaches to Norfolk. He will have his forces in readiness to cross the river on receiving further orders.


By command of the Secretary of War:

JNO. WITHERS, Assistant Adjutant-General.


RICHMOND, VA., February 26, 1862.

Maj. Gen. B. HUGER, Norfolk, Va.:

MY DEAR GENERAL: I sent Colonel Lee, my aide-de-camp, to converse with you freely and confidentially and to bring to me full and exact information as to your condition and views.

This morning it has been stated to me that you feel restrained by the want of an assurance that the Government has left your action to the guidance of your own judgment. In that regard I have to say that my rule has been to seek for the ablest commanders who could be obtained, and to rely on them to execute the purposes of the Government by such plans as they should devise and with such means as could be made available.

You certainly have not been an exception to that rule. My purpose in your case was the defense of Norfolk, and my confidence in you has been to me a constant source of hope. You will accept assurances of my readiness to sustain you to the full extent of my power, and the expression of the desire that you would look to success as the only directrix of your course in the discharge of your official duties.

Very truly, your friend,



RICHMOND, VA., February 27, 1862.

General B. HUGER, Norfolk, Va.:

You win place the towns of Norfolk and Portsmouth and their dependencies under martial law. Preparation should be made for the removal of that part of the population who could only embarrass the defense in the event of a siege.



RICHMOND, VA., February 27, 1862.

Brigadier-General WINDER:

SIR: I have just finished an examination of the field works erected and planned around the city for its defense, and respectfully submit a brief report of their condition for your information.

These batteries, numbering eighteen, and seven outworks, are placed in a circle of about 12 miles around the city. I think their location and design good. The magazines of those on the north side of the river are not in a fit condition to receive ammunition. All of them are more or {p.46} less damp and some of them have 2 or 3 feet of water in them. I would suggest that they be built above the surface of the ground.

There are eleven long 32-pounders mounted on barbette carriages and nine guns of the same class in the batteries on the north side of the river not mounted. Batteries Nos. 11 and 12 on the north side, and Nos. 17 and 18 on the south side of the river, have not been commenced.

I would respectfully suggest that these last mentioned be completed and armed, as I think that we are most likely to be attacked from that quarter first.

I do not deem it necessary to give a more detailed statement at present. I submit these facts to you in the hope that you will bring the matter before the Engineer and Ordnance Departments.

The accompanying sketch of the works will give you a better idea of them than anything I have written or could write.*

If these works were completed and well armed they would indeed be formidable; yet it seems to me doubtful whether we could supply an army with provisions that would be necessary to defend the city against the force the enemy would likely bring against us. We might possibly be made to experience the fate of General Mack at Ulm. But these are matters for the Government to decide. With these facts and remarks I leave the subject in your hands.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. TANSILL, Colonel, Commanding Second Regiment Virginia Artillery.

P. S.-I should have before observed that it will require 218 guns to fully arm the batteries.

R. TANSILL, Colonel, Commanding Second Virginia Artillery.

* Not found.



[FEBRUARY 27, 1862.]

Whereas the Congress of the Confederate States has by law vested in the President the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in cities in danger of attack by the enemy:

Now therefore I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, do hereby proclaim that martial law is extended over the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth and the surrounding country to the distance of 10 miles from said cities, and all civil jurisdiction and the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus are hereby declared to be suspended within the limits aforesaid.

This proclamation will remain in force until otherwise ordered.

In faith whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal, at the city of Richmond, on this twenty-seventh day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two.



FEBRUARY 28, 1862.

Colonel KEMPER, Speaker House of Delegates, State of Virginia:

DEAR SIR: I inclose my report on the condition of the defenses of Richmond, as called for by a resolution.


Permit me to call your attention to its purport, the better to determine if or not it should be read in open session.

Most respectfully, yours,

C. DIMMOCK, Colonel Ordnance of Virginia.



In compliance with the resolution passed by the House of Delegates, “requesting Col. Charles Dimmock to make a careful and thorough examination of the fortifications and defenses of this city and to report the condition thereof to this House,” I respectfully report that I have visited the works referred to, and find that on the north side of James River, commencing on the river below the city and running around to the river above the city, there are seventeen separate batteries and that there are two more about to be thrown up. On the south side of the river, inclosing the town of Manchester, commencing on the river below and running around to the river above the town of Manchester, there are four separate batteries, besides two more about to be thrown up.

The length of line of works on the north side of the river is 7 1/2 miles and on the south side 4 1/2 miles-in all about 12 miles.

If I am to express my opinion, I take the occasion to say that these lines of defense are too near the city, placing it in close siege, if the enemy is to be suffered to approach within reach of the batteries; se near can the enemy come that the city can be shelled and burned before our works are captured, and so near that all intercourse with the country will be cut off, and for the want of subsistence the city would soon be compelled to capitulate without any serious attack by the enemy. The line of defense should be near the banks of the Chickahominy and its tributaries as far as they extend westwardly and thence by a line to James River; and on the Manchester side the works should be thrown out some 2 miles in advance. But as the present batteries are nearly complete, they may be used in the last resort. Yet advanced works should be thrown up as soon as possible upon the lines indicated.

The present works (except their being too near) are well located and of approved ground plan, and when they are completed will make a good defense.

There are several ravines running in between some of the works which are not commanded by their guns. Doubtless it is in contemplation to throw up other small batteries to protect these depressions.

All the batteries are in barbette (without embrasures) and are objectionable, because both the guns and the men who serve them are too much exposed. The guns will be liable to be dismounted and the men disabled.

I think at least some of the most important and assailable ones should be embrasured, and there should be some bomb-proofs within which the men not serving at the guns may find security. There are several lesser defects general to all the works, which I presume the engineer will remedy.

These batteries are from one-half to three-fourths of a mile from each other, between which I think there should be breastworks thrown up, behind which infantry can be posted to prevent any attempt of the enemy to force through and take the batteries in rear, where they are quite open and defenseless.


In each battery there is one or more magazines. With few exceptions these are pits sunk under ground, covered with timber and earth. These I found all very wet and most of them filled with water. These should be made dry by being bricked up or raised above the surface of the ground and drained.

Immediately around some of the works thick forests stand, which should be cut down.

Of cannon I found on the north side but eleven mounted in all the works, and dismounted, lying upon the ground without carriages, there were twelve more, in all within the batteries twenty-three, when the number required is one hundred and forty-three; and on the south or Manchester side I found two mounted (none upon the ground), when the number required is seventy-four.

I could not learn that any, either of guns or carriages, were ready; if they are not, they cannot be obtained and put in place in less time than three months if they are commenced at once.

Of the batteries along James River below the city I only know from report. To remove all fear from the enemy’s gunboats, with their almost impenetrable sides and their heavy shells, I suggest that obstructions be gotten ready and floated down about 4 miles below the city, ready to be sunk on the signal of the approach of the enemy.

From what I have said above and especially from the small number of guns (twenty-five of the two hundred and eighteen required) that are ready mounted and dismounted (about two to the mile), I report that Richmond, as far as any reliance is to be placed upon these batteries, is in no state of defense against an enemy likely to approach. The danger from such attack from the north side of the river is greatly lessened by the positions of our armies on the Potomac and on the Peninsula, but I regard an attack from the south side imminent.

Burnside has obtained a permanent landing on the North Carolina coast, at which he is getting re-enforcements With 15,000 or 20,000 men he can ascend the Roanoke, march to Petersburg, thence to Manchester, and from the commanding hills there shell this city without crossing the river. This he can do in ten days after he is ready.

If to meet this force the assistance of our armies on the Potomac and on the Peninsula are called upon, the answer will be from General Johnston and Magruder, “McClellan and Wool are threatening us (by concert with Burnside) and we can spare no assistance.”

If I am right, immediate action should be had toward completing the batteries now projected on the Manchester side and fully arming them.

Respectfully submitted.

C. DIMMOCK, Colonel Ordnance of Virginia.



Abstract from return of the Department of the Peninsula, Maj. Gen. John B. Magruder, commanding, for February, 1862.

Command.Present for duty.Aggregate present.Aggregate present and absent.Pieces of artillery.
Wynn’s Mill581,4101,692
Young’s Mill641,0161,2541,579429
Lee’s Mill27461615683
Harrod a Mill83607789866
Fort Grafton338134826654
Camp Dudley376238951,018
Ship Point37686856997
Gloucester Point and Matthews County1161,0891,5612,175184
Jamestown Island7147169184154
Mulberry Point2657883
Camp Marion376928861,0004
Warwick Court-House32363543705
Land’s End365556487044
Deep Creek25431595711
wall’s Farm23616762945
Spratley’s Farm19328458532


HEADQUARTERS, Lee’s Mill, March 1, 1862.

General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General:

SIR: I received your letter* directing me so to arrange my forces as to send re-enforcements, when I received orders, to Suffolk. You do not state what re-enforcements you intend to send; hence it is impossible to know what arrangements to make. I immediately, however, gave preliminary orders. I can send but one regiment and one field battery, and that with great risk here. The reason why I cannot do more is that, notwithstanding all my efforts to procure negroes, I have received but 11 from the counties in my district, the presiding magistrate referring the call in some cases to the district attorney, who decides that it is illegal, and in other cases no response is made. Two months fully have already been lost in consequence of the War Department disapproving of my arrangements and countermanding my orders.

I fear that it will be a fortnight before the evil following from these causes will have ceased, if ever. The people have got an idea that the influence of the Government will be cast against my efforts. Whilst I was in Richmond 135 slaves from the county of Greenville were discharged, I am informed, by order of the Secretary of War, and without my knowledge. I had expected to have employed these negroes and others-some 800 ready in Henry-in fortifying the second line of my position whilst my troops were occupying and fortifying the front line, where I prefer to fight, but may be forced to leave, as the flanks may {p.50} be turned by the operations of ships of the enemy. I supposed that by this time I would have had negroes enough to have fortified my positions sufficiently to have enabled me to spare temporarily and for a short distance 2,000 men. As I have not had the negroes I cannot spare more troops than I have stated, and for them militia ought at once to be substituted.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.

P. S.-I have to request that this communication be laid, through the Secretary of War, before the President.

* Not found, but see Special Orders, No. 45, Adjutant and Inspector General’s Office, February 25, p. 44.



General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:

SIR: The telegraph not being at work, I have the honor to state for General Magruder, who is in the field, in forwarding to you the above [following] copy of telegram, that he recommends that the (Merrimac) Virginia be stationed a little above Newport News, to prevent the gunboats coming up the swash channel leading into Warwick River and turning the right flank of his line of defense.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY BRYAN, Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.


NORFOLK, February 27, 1862.

General J. B. MAGRUDER:

One regiment of infantry landed at Newport News yesterday and today six companies of a Massachusetts regiment of light artillery from the Baltimore boat; their horses arrived in transport. I have reliable information that 30,000 men will be landed at Old Point and Newport News before the 5th of March. No arrival or departure of importance to-day.




Captain BUCHANAN, C. S. N., C. S. Steamer Merrimac, Gosport Navy-Yard, Va.:

CAPTAIN: It is too late to co-operate with my army in any manner below with the Merrimac, even if the roads will admit it, which they will not, for the enemy is very heavily re-enforced both at Newport News and Fort Monroe with infantry and six batteries of light artillery.

It would have been glorious if you could have run into these as they were being landed from a Baltimore boat and a commercial transport.

In addition to the above I have been ordered to make such disposition of my troops as will enable me, in case of necessity, to send re-enforcements {p.51} to Suffolk, obliging me to fall back to my second line, which I have done.

Any dependence, therefore, upon me, so far as Newport News is concerned, is at an end.

Wishing you every success, I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.


RICHMOND, March 4, 1862.

Major-General MAGRUDER, Yorktown:

Get 5,000 men and two batteries ready to be thrown across the river as soon as possible. By order of the President. I write to-day.

J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.



Brig. Gen. LAFAYETTE MCLAWS, Custis’ Farm:

SIR: I am instructed by the commanding general to inform you that he received a dispatch from the Secretary of War this morning, directing him to send forthwith 5,000 troops to Suffolk, and that he has already given verbal orders for the movement on Thursday to King’s Mill of Cobb’s Legion, Sixteenth Georgia, and Fifty-third Virginia, and the Second Louisiana and Fifteenth North Carolina on Friday. You will give orders to Colonel Hodges, Fourteenth Virginia, to move early on Friday to King’s Mill wharf with all his regiment except the company in charge of the four pieces of artillery. He will take with him his tents, five days’ rations, as few cooking utensils as possible, his ammunition, and 20 spades, and axes, turning over the remainder of the same, besides whatever picks and shovels he may have, to the acting quartermaster of the Fifth Louisiana Volunteers, and taking receipt for the same.

You will direct Moseley’s battery to proceed also on Thursday early to King’s Mill and embark for Suffolk, Va., by way of City Point.

The commanding general desires that these orders be given verbally and kept as secret as possible.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY BRYAN, Assistant Adjutant-General.



General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.:

GENERAL: If 5,000 men are taken from this Peninsula and the enemy should advance in force I fear I will be compelled to leave Yorktown to defend itself with a small garrison, the covering work at Mulberry Island with one regiment to defend it, and that with the rest of {p.52} the troops I shall be forced back to Williamsburg, as there would be three roads to guard with a force of not more than 4,000 men, after deducting the above-named garrisons. I will do my very best with these against all odds. I have withdrawn the troops from Young’s and Harrod’s Mills, leaving the cavalry and one regiment of infantry at each of these places, and have nearly completed the concentration of my force on the second line preparatory to this call.

The Quartermaster-General informs me that the Northampton will be ready from Thursday to Saturday, and that a tug and four lighters will be ready on Monday.

The superintendent of the Southside Railroad writes that the most expeditious way to convey troops to Suffolk is to take them from Jamestown by steamer to City Point, thence to Petersburg, and by the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad to Suffolk. I think this is the best and will also be the most secret, as the troops will have to march as high up as King’s Mill at all events and then go down the river to a landing in sight of the enemy, and then have a march of 30 or 40 miles. I shall therefore send them this way.

I have this moment received the Secretary’s dispatch and answer by the boat.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.

P. S.-Not having been previously informed what number of troops would be required to be transported, I could do nothing more than make inquiries and notify the Quartermaster-General of my probable wants in the way of transportation.



WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, Va., March 4, 1862.

Maj. Gen. J. B. MAGRUDER, Yorktown, Va.:

SIR: Your letter of March 1 has been submitted to the President as you desired. The complaints made of the action of this Department in relation to the impressment of negroes were without just foundation. The Department has simply requested that you confine yourself to the impressment of such negroes as are within your command, and has pointed out the utter impossibility of permitting the generals who command in different districts to cross their own lines and encroach on the commands of their neighbors. The slaves from Greenville County were in no sense under your control or authority, and the Secretary was forced, on appeal, to decide that you had no right to retain them.

I regret that the people should have “got an idea that the influence of the Government will be cast against your efforts.” I assure you that such an idea is utterly unfounded. It has been my desire, and it is still my most earnest wish, to strengthen your hands and aid your efforts in every possible way, and no one does fuller justice to your zeal, activity, and high soldierly qualities. I pray you to dismiss all such thoughts from your mind as unworthy of us both. In times like these miserable scandal-mongers and panic-breeders ply their vocation of Bowing the seeds of mischief among men in office; but we can both {p.53} afford to scorn such attempts to create distrust between us, and apply ourselves to the sole task of defending our country at this moment of her great need.

I sent you a dispatch to-day, by order of the President, to hold 5,000 men and two batteries ready for crossing the river.

The President says that when in town, a week ago, you proposed yourself to cross and aid, with part of your army, in defense of Suffolk. We do not believe that you are in the slightest danger of an attack at present, either in front or by being outflanked by naval forces. All our intelligence tends to one point. Suffolk is the aim of the enemy. Norfolk is to be cut off, if they can accomplish their purpose. If they succeed in this, then, indeed, your entire flank would be thrown open, and you would be forced to fall back rapidly, for they would get possession of all the defenses on the south side of the James River and cross at pleasure at any point they might select. It is for your own defense, as well as that of Norfolk, therefore, that the President desires you to be ready, at a moment’s warning, to re-enforce the army defending Suffolk with at least 5,000 men and two batteries. It is not intended to order you to cross in person or to leave your command, but to send these troops under such general of your command as you may select.

I am, your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.



To the Army of the Peninsula:

COMRADES: The time of service for which many of you enlisted is about to expire. Your country, invaded by an insolent foe, again demands your help. Your homes are violated, your firesides polluted by the presence of a mercenary enemy or silent in their desolation; many of your friends in captivity or in exile; our people slain, and the very altars of our religion desolated and profaned. The ruthless tyrants who have dared to invade us have vowed our conquest or our destruction.

It is for you to rise and avenge our slaughtered countrymen or nobly share their fate. Of what worth is life without liberty, peace at the expense of honor, the world without a home?

When our fathers periled life, fortune, and sacred honor to our first war of Independence, was it an empty boast, or was it the stern resolve of freemen, who knew their rights and dared to defend them? The long war of the Revolution culminated at length in victorious triumph on these very plains of Yorktown. These frowning battlements on the heights of York are turned in this second war of liberty against the enemies of our country. You breathe the air and tread the soil consecrated by the presence and heroism of our patriotic sires. Shall we, their sons, imitate their example, or basely bow the neck to the yoke of the oppressor? I know your answer. You remember your wrongs, and you are resolved to avenge them. True to the instincts of patriotic devotion, you will not fill a coward’s grave. You spring with alacrity to the death-grapple with the foe, nor relinquish the strife till victory crowns our arms. Cowards die a thousand deaths; brave men die but once, and conquer though they die. It is therefore without surprise that your commanding general has learned of your purpose to re-enlist in this holy struggle, and that you bear with a cheerfulness and constancy {p.54} worthy of his highest admiration the disappointment of withdrawing from you the furloughs to visit your homes which the Government promised you, and which the present dangers of our beloved country alone forbids it to grant.

When the war is ended, in that hour of triumph you will be proud to remember that by your sufferings and sacrifices, no less than by your valor, you conquered.

Soldiers I though reverses and disasters have recently befallen us, let us remember that trust is eternal and that God is just. His arm is our trust, and the Great Ruler of nations and of men will protect the right and crown with victory the noble and the brave. Let us take courage, then. Our enemy, dead to the spirit of liberty, can only fight while their coffers are unexhausted. Commerce is their king. Their god is gold. They glory in their shame. The war which intensifies our devotion and concentrates our resources scatters theirs. The day of retribution will come. The struggle will not always be defensive on our part. We will yet strike down our ruthless invaders amid smoking ruins of their cities, and with arms in our hands dictate terms of peace on their own soil.

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.



Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:

SIR: I send inclosed a report made to me by Lieutenant Talcott,on engineer duty, who had been sent by me to Roanoke Island, and who assisted in the service of the guns at the Pork Point Battery.

This is the only report I have received from any one. General Wise, ss I telegraphed yesterday, has made no official report to me. I had a letter from him on his arrival at Poplar Spring, in Currituck County, informing me of the capture of the island, his information being received from a Sergeant Metzler, who left the island at 5 p.m. on the 8th February, which information I reported at once to the Department.

I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

BENJ. HUGER, Major-General, Commanding.


ROANOKE ISLAND, February 9, 1862.

Maj. Gen. B. HUGER, Commanding Department of Norfolk:

GENERAL: In obedience to your order of the 1st instant I visited Roanoke Island, and, arriving there on the 4th, commenced the discharge of the duties imposed.

After paying off all the duly-certified claims against the Engineer Department that were presented I made an inspection of the batteries and a general reconnaissance of the position.

On Thursday, the 6th instant, I had taken passage for Elizabeth City, on my return to Norfolk, when the enemy’s fleet hove in sight. Believing that very strenuous efforts would be necessary to resist successfully an attack for which the island was still unprepared, I deemed it my duty to return.


On landing I offered my services to Colonel Shaw, the commanding officer of the post, and during the attack which followed rendered such service as I could.

The details of the actions of the 7th and 8th will no doubt be reported by the commanding officer. I merely desire in this to note the facts which may prove important to the department with which I was connected.

The three guns which were alone brought fully into action at Pork Point were all en barbette, and although the fire of from sixty to seventy guns was concentrated for six hours on these three, which were mounted close together, without either bomb-proof shelters or traverses between them, no serious damage was sustained and the loss of life was very slight.

Although two of the three guns used were a 41-cwt. and 47-cwt. 32-pounders of short range, considerable damage was done to the enemy’s gunboats. One gun in embrasure was used during the early part of the action of the 7th with great effect, but the sod revetment of the cheeks of the embrasure suffered somewhat. These facts should tend to give increased confidence in open batteries and barbette guns. It is also worthy of remark that our force engaged at the causeway, not exceeding 350 men, was enabled, under the partial cover of a breastwork 4 1/2 feet high and less than 100 feet long, to resist for five hours an attack by upwards of 10,000 of the enemy’s land forces, aided by artillery at least equal to our own.

Although our arms have been defeated by overwhelming numbers and an important position has been lost to us, I cannot see that we have any reason to be disheartened. The enemy himself confessed to a dear-bought victory and the repulse of his Navy.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. M. R. TALCOTT, First Lieutenant, Artillery, C. S. Army.


WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, Va., March 5, 1862.

Maj. Gen. B. HUGER, Norfolk, Va.:

SIR: I have your dispatch stating that General Wise had made no report of the capture of Roanoke Island. Congress insists on receiving reports en the subject, and General Wise has sent me copies of his letters of the 10th and 11th ultimo, which he evidently considered as his report.

I am informed by Colonel Shaw that he gave General Wise his report last week. You are therefore instructed to request from General Wise the report of Colonel Shaw, and to make up such report as you can from the material in your possession, whether letters, reports, or other documents, that I may transmit the report to Congress.

We are using every effort to strengthen your command. It seems evident that a great effort is to be made to capture Norfolk, and its defense must be as vigorous as the whole power of the Confederacy can make it. We shall use all our means of concentrating troops for the defense of Suffolk. In the mean time I would be glad to be advised as promptly as possible of your plans of defense. I beg that in determining on this matter you will consider whether it would not be advisable to withdraw to your inner line, or perhaps send to Suffolk {p.56} such portions of your force as have been heretofore posted on the coast in the neighborhood of Lynn Haven Bay.

The transports recently sent to sea by the enemy are in all probability destined to re-enforce General Burnside and to attack your rear. This is only a suggestion, and is by no means intended to interfere with your own dispositions of your troops.

I trust that, with the aid of Generals Loring and Randolph, recently sent to you, and of General Ransom, who will be at once ordered to join you, you will be enabled to infuse such vigor and activity in your command as to inspire them with confidence in a successful defense. General Ransom has just been nominated, and his regiment of cavalry, which is one of the very finest in any service, is ordered to re-enforce you.

We have also ordered about 2 000 men to aid you from Washington, N. C., and General Magruder will hold in readiness on James River 5,000 men, with the necessary means of throwing them across to your support the instant the movements of the enemy render certain what is now deemed very probable-an attack on Suffolk. Several batteries of field artillery will also be sent to you.

Your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.


WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, Va., March 5, 1862.

Maj. Gen. B. HUGER, Norfolk, Va.:

SIR: Martial law having been declared in Norfolk under the President’s proclamation, he desires me to call your attention to the various measures which he hopes will at once be vigorously executed:

1st. Some leading and reliable citizen to be appointed provost-marshal in Norfolk and another in Portsmouth. In the former city he suggests the mayor, said to be a zealous friend of our cause.

2d. All arms to be required to be given up by the citizens; private arms to be paid for.

3d. The whole male population to be enrolled for military service; all stores and shops to be closed at 12 or 1 o’clock, and the whole of the citizens forced to drill and undergo instructions.

4th. The citizens so enrolled to be armed with the arms given up and with those of infantry now in service at batteries.

5th. Send away as rapidly as can be done, without exciting panic, all women and children, and reduce your population to such as can aid in defense.

6th. Give notice that all merchandise, cotton, tobacco, &c., not wanted for military use, be sent away within the given time, or it will be destroyed.

7th. Imprison all persons against whom there is well-grounded suspicion of disloyalty.

8th. Purchase all supplies in the district that can be made useful for your army, allowing none to be carried away that you might want in the event that the city is beleagued.

In executing these orders you will of course use your own discretion, so to act as to avoid creating panic as far as possible.

Your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.




General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General C. S. Army:

SIR: The telegram, informing me that the Baltic, with three regiments on board, had left Newport News, has just been received.

Mr. William Norris, my signal officer at Sewell’s, had reported the arrival at Newport News of troops within the last week in large numbers, estimated by me at six regiments, in addition to six companies of light artillery, with their horses.

In pursuance of the orders of the Secretary of War, to se dispose my forces as to throw re-enforcements across to Suffolk, I withdrew the troops from Harrod’s and Young’s Mills, except the cavalry and one regiment of infantry at each place. It was almost impossible to withdraw the artillery on account of the state of the roads. I have arranged the remaining troops not in garrisons, about 4,000 men, on the second line, and informed Captain Buchanan that for the above reasons I would not be able to have my troops down in the neighborhood of Fort Monroe and Newport News should he attack the two frigates at the latter place. It of course could not have been supposed that I could do so when the department ordered away from me more than one-half of my force disposable for the field, even if the state of the roads permitted it. The shorter line, which I now occupy, will be defended with a force totally inadequate for that purpose.

The Merrimac will make no impression on Newport News, in my opinion, and if she succeeds in sinking the ships lying there it would do us little or no good, but if she had attacked the Baltic and other transports filled with troops in those waters her success would have been certain and of incalculable advantage to us. Please ask the Secretary of War to impress these views on the Navy Department.

To make up the 5,000 men ordered to Suffolk I have been compelled to send the following regiments and corps, which are now marching to King’s Mill, to proceed via City Point and Petersburg, viz: Cobb’s Legion, Sixteenth Georgia Regiment, Second Louisiana Regiment, Fifteenth North Carolina, and Fifty-third Virginia Regiments. In Cobb’s Legion is included one field battery and about 350 cavalry, and I have sent an additional field battery.

You will perceive that nothing can be done by me in the way of an attack after having parted with so large a portion of my army. Indeed, unless some important object could be attained, the policy of merely being present near Fort Monroe and Newport News when the latter is bombarded is exceedingly doubtful, as it would incur a risk of disaster without any corresponding advantage, and especially as the number of troops at both places is increased, notwithstanding the recent departures, while my own is diminished by more than one-half disposable for field service. In any event I could render no assistance to the Merrimac merely by my presence. These are my views, and I think they are those of every officer under my command. I will execute however with alacrity any orders which may be given.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.

P. S.-The negroes are coming in pretty rapidly.




General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:

SIR: I stated in a conversation when in Richmond that I could spare for a limited period 5,000 men to operate near me, but that their places should be supplied by 5,000 militia.

This statement was made to Mr. R. M. T. Hunter, and the next morning I wrote him that upon reflection I did not think that more than 2,000 men could leave this department with safety, subject to the above conditions, and requested him, I think, to lay the statement before the President. I do not complain, but will abide with cheerfulness by any arrangement made by the Department, knowing the pressure everywhere.

I respond cordially to the friendly assurances of the Secretary of War, and will send him all the support in my power, but fear being misunderstood; hence my explanations of to-day.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.


YORKTOWN, March 6, 1862.

General S. COOPER, Adjutant-General C. S. Army:

The troops intended for Suffolk will embark at King’s Mill, near Williamsburg, and proceed by steamers to City Point and thence via Petersburg Railroad to Suffolk. This is rendered necessary by the want of wharf facilities at any other point, and will save time as well as a land march of more than 20 miles. The troops will be in readiness to cross to-morrow, 5,000 men and two batteries. When shall they cross? Please answer.

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.


YORKTOWN, March 6, 1862, (Received Richmond, March 6, 1862.)

General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General:

No answer has been received in reply to my telegram of to-day saying the troops will be ready to embark to-morrow at King’s Mill. The horses will be sent by land from the south side, except a few for the officers. The rolling stock of the City Point and Petersburg Railroad will be in place for the transportation of the troops to-day, awaiting the movement.

Detention will be attended with a heavy expense and inconvenience perhaps to the road.

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.



RICHMOND, March 7, 1862.

General J. B. MAGRUDER, Yorktown, Va.:

Your dispatch received. The command will cross the river and proceed to its destination as soon as you are in possession of the means of transportation, which it is understood you have.

General Cobb is here. Shall he report to you in person or proceed to Suffolk?

S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General.



Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:

SIR: I received yesterday your letter of the 5th instant. I have written to General Wise, and directed him to send me the report of Colonel Shaw of the capture of Roanoke Island and any others he may have to submit.

As regards “advising you of my plans and purposes and contemplated mode of defense,” I have heretofore had to be only prepared for a front attack. I am now threatened both in front and rear, as the enemy can approach me from James River on my front and Albemarle Sound and the Chowan River in the rear. The principal obstacles to the front attack are the batteries. On the direct approach up the Elizabeth River these batteries are strong and, with the obstructions in the channel, sufficient to prevent their passage. Other points are weaker, but the enemy would be compelled to land and march through a wooded country, intersected with creeks and marshes. He can land at different points at the south, but from any point of landing he must march from 30 to 50 miles before reaching any vitally-important point. My plan is to attack him the moment he attempts to advance on any line, and, if possible, to throw on his flanks and cut his line.

I have thought it necessary to hold Sewell’s Point. This battery covers the obstructions in the channel opposite to it. While this barrier remains large vessels cannot approach Craney Island. If the enemy is allowed to remove it, Craney Island could be approached and could be damaged by shells, which can do little injury at Sewell’s. I have to keep two regiments and a light battery at Sewell’s Point, and a small regiment and some field guns beyond them, to protect them from any landing near Ocean View.

The Third Alabama Regiment and a battery of artillery, which was farther east, toward Lynn Haven Bay, I have withdrawn, and moved across the Elizabeth River. I have kept this regiment on the railroad near Portsmouth ready to proceed to Suffolk or elsewhere as required. Means of transportation for the regiments, wagons, and mules are what I will most require, and I have urged the Quartermaster’s Department to provide a sufficient supply as promptly as possible.

Where the move will be must depend upon the enemy, but I see no other plan than to attack him as soon as possible after he attempts to march.

I am, very respectfully, you obedient, servant,

BENJ. HUGER, Major-General, Commanding.




HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE PENINSULA, Yorktown, March 9, 1862-3 a.m.

Colonel Winston and Major Phillips will proceed at daylight in the neighborhood of New Market Bridge, sending a party of observation in the neighborhood of New Bridge. It is desirable to approach New Market Bridge through the woods, as the enemy is in great force in the neighborhood of Newport News. Colonel Winston is informed that our cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel Goode and a regiment of infantry under Colonel Cumming will make a demonstration on the Warwick road on Newport News early this morning, and that the troops and artillery at Ship Point will march at daylight, and also that all the other troops of the Peninsula, except the necessary guards, will take post at Young’s and Harrod’s Mills.

Colonel Winston will endeavor to surprise any party of the enemy that he may find about New Market Bridge. He will ascertain whether the enemy are on the Scondam road or not, and if not, he will send his dragoons by that road to communicate with Colonel Cumming, who will thereupon advance toward Newport News, displaying his force to the best advantage, but will not engage the enemy if he advances, except that our cavalry will charge their cavalry or their artillery if the occasion offers.

Colonel Winston will keep his troops in ambush, securing for himself a safe retreat; and should the enemy advance he will permit their heads of columns to pass him and fall upon their flanks, and thus annoy him all the way in his advance.

By command of Major-General Magruder:

- -.


HEADQUARTERS, Young’s Mill, Va., March 10, 1862.

Commodore BUCHANAN, C. S. N.:

COMMODORE: It is with the most cordial satisfaction that I tender you my most hearty congratulations on the glorious and brilliant victory you achieved over the enemy on Saturday and Sunday last. I consider it the greatest achievement of the age, and am delighted beyond expression that it was accomplished under your auspices and that of my friend Lieut. Catesby Ap R. Jones.

I went down in person as soon as I heard of the attack, and had given some orders for the movement of troops and one of my regiments, with 250 cavalry, and remained in front of the works within a mile and a half for some two hours yesterday without artillery, but though very strong-I think at least 15,000-they did not come out to attack us.

I regret to hear that you are wounded, but hope your wound will not prove serious.

I send you this hasty expression of my extreme satisfaction by Sergeant Tabb, whose departure I cannot delay.

With the highest respect, I remain, commodore, very sincerely, yours,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.



ENGINEER BUREAU, Richmond, March 12, 1862.

Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:

SIR: The following report is respectfully submitted as a partial reply to the resolutions of Congress of the 24th February, calling for information, surveys, and reports connected with the defenses of Richmond:

In ascending the James River the defenses consist of-

1st Fort Boykin, Day’s Neck.-Mounting ten guns; 42-pounders and 32-pounders, hot shot, &c.

2d. Fort Huger, Harden’s Bluff.-Mounting thirteen guns; one 10-inch columbiad, pattern rifled, en barbette, four 9-inch Dahlgrens en barbette, two 8-inch columbiads en barbette, six hot-shot 32-pounders on ship carriages.

3d. Mulberry Island Point Battery.-Five 42-pounder guns en barbette, two 8-inch columbiads en route, fifteen casemates building rapidly, and large covering work nearly completed.

4th. Jamestown Island Batteries.-Thirteen guns; four 9-inch Dahlgrens, four 8-inch columbiads and two more en route, five hot-shot long 32s.

5th. Drewry’s Bluff Battery, coupled with obstructions in the river, is being rapidly constructed, under the direction of Lieutenant Mason, of the Provisional Engineer Corps.

The first is completed, while the second and third are being rapidly and intelligently improved with bomb-proofs, &c., by Captain Clarke, of the Provisional Engineer Corps, who has a force of at least 1,000 hands.

From 20 to 30 miles below City Point there are two positions-Fort Powhatan and Kennon’s marshes-which have been thoroughly examined by the ablest officers at the disposition of the department, and reported to be good locations for batteries. If they are placed at either of the above points obstacles should be constructed in connection with them. The final and intelligent selection of a site can consequently not be determined except by a thorough hydrographic survey.

In regard to the Richmond defenses, it was the opinion of General Leadbetter that the works around the city were rather near, but so much had been done at the time he took charge of them, that he directed me, on leaving for Tennessee, to carry out the plans adopted by the Engineer Department of Virginia. This I have sought to do with the means at my disposition, and a large proportion of the leading works are completed. Intermediate secondary breastworks could be thrown up with sufficient rapidity by the troops who are to defend the main works when there is occasion. Labor in that direction at present would seem to be injudicious. Most of the works are closed, and those which are not so can be rapidly protected. Directions have been given to drain the magazines thoroughly, and if necessary to construct new ones.

There are but few guns mounted on the works. A full armament for them would be exceedingly difficult to procure, and the propriety of concentrating so many pieces en a contracted local defense would seem at least doubtful.

The batteries on the Manchester hills are very nearly, if not entirely, constructed, and a force has been called out to repair and complete them. Drewry’s Bluff, a most commanding point where the James River is narrowest, about 7 miles below Richmond, has been selected ss the best point for a battery coupled with obstructions. In its immediate {p.62} vicinity also is a strong commanding ridge on the line of approach from Petersburg to Richmond.

In regard to the line of the Chickahominy, I can as yet make no definite report, although an officer is on duty in its examination. The recent calls for engineers by General Johnston and others have left me but limited professional resources. I have heard, however, that Colonel Talcott, Chief of the Virginia Engineer Corps, examined this line, but did not think very favorably of it. It may, however, be possible to erect, in a reasonable time, a series of dams, with properly-constructed covering works, which would add greatly to the strength of the Richmond defenses on the north. As soon as the surveys are completed a full report will be promptly made.

The James River defenses, which are rapidly improving, afford already a good protection against wooden fleets, but not against ironclad vessels. From recent developments it is evident that nothing but the very heaviest ordnance, and that in connection with obstructions and perhaps torpedoes, can contend successfully with this latter class. It is to such means we are resorting on the James River. In positions similar to those of Fort Huger, Yorktown, and Mulberry Island Point the only course left to pursue seems to be to mount the guns on the bluffs, where they are not liable to be struck, or in well-constructed casemates, to contend with wooden ships, keeping sand bags ready filled to protect them against iron-clad vessels. This class is so excessively expensive and confined as to be ill-adapted to the transportation of troops in large numbers. The effect, however, of passing our lower batteries by preventing the safe navigation of our rivers above them will probably be to force us at no distant day to rely in great measure on land transportation.

A mistaken impression on my part that this report was called for on the termination of the surveys has led to this delay, for which it is the only excuse.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

ALFRED L. RIVES, Acting Chief Engineer Bureau.


ENGINEER BUREAU, Richmond, March 12, 1862.

General J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Commanding Army of the Peninsula:

GENERAL: Colonel Carter, who will hand you this, submitted to me Captain Dimmock’s report, approved by himself and addressed to you. From the experience derived in the recent contest between the Virginia and Monitor it is evident to me that water batteries in the immediate vicinity of deep water should be abandoned at once-those at both Yorktown and Gloucester Point. I unhesitatingly recommend such a step, only leaving a masked battery of the smallest pieces to protect the beach and communicating with the works on the bluffs by a covered way.


The sketch below gives the idea roughly:

I will send plans promptly, but in case my occupations, which are now very heavy, should prevent, I feel assured the engineers in your command can arrange the details. By keeping sand bags filled, on hand, your guns can in a few minutes be protected against iron-clad boats. These bags could be thrown off rapidly should a wooden fleet attempt to pass with troops, and I believe in that case the bluff batteries fully equal to the water batteries.

You will readily infer from what I have written that I think your water communication with West Point in great danger. I shall exert myself to have the Gloucester Point guns mounted promptly and properly.

Colonel Carter can communicate more fully the result we have arrived at.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

ALFRED L. RIVES, Acting Chief Engineer Bureau.


HEADQUARTERS, Young’s Mill, March 12, 1862.

General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:

SIR: I have the honor to report that I sent Sergeant Tabb, a most intelligent man, who is on signal service in this department and was a volunteer on board of the Virginia in the late action, to reconnoiter Newport News in a boat yesterday afternoon, and he has just returned, stating that whilst in front of Newport News the Ericsson came up from Fort Monroe with some troops on board and landed them at Newport News; that a very large force was at that place and increasing. Their pickets have advanced some mile and a half up the river, and I am satisfied that they mean to march up on the left bank of James River, sending the Ericsson to silence the guns in the river batteries, and thus freeing the river for the passage of transports with other troops and forcing us to fall back by ascending the river. It may require some little time to do this, but they will succeed in the end, unless the Virginia can leave the dock and prevent the Ericsson from coming up. The latter vessel draws, I am informed, much less water than the Virginia, and if she once gets up the Virginia could not follow her, as there is a bar below Day’s Neck, I am told by James River pilots, on which there is not more than 18 feet water, and the Virginia draws 22 feet.


I deem it of the utmost importance to make this statement to you for the information of the War and Navy Departments and the President, although the information may already be in their possession.

My cavalry drove in the enemy’s pickets last evening, but the advance of their pickets and their increasing force admonishes me of the necessity of arranging my troops on the second line for defense, from which I have advanced them after the naval action, to be ready to take advantage of the effect of that achievement, and at the same time to cover, if possible, the movement of troops from here to Suffolk. They will resume their places to-day, presenting, however, the same line of pickets to the enemy and holding the front line by cavalry and light infantry, with orders to fall back on the second line in case of an advance.

I would recommend that not a moment be lost in again bringing out the Virginia, as I learn from my spies that their officers say the Virginia is much injured and that they have no apprehension from her for the present. I presume that they will advance as soon as possible in the hope that she will not be ready, and the Ericsson once up the river, she cannot follow. Should the Ericsson attack our batteries on James River, the guns on ship carriages will be withdrawn from the effects of the fire and all the other guns and men will be protected as much as possible.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.


RICHMOND, VA., March 13, 1862.

Maj. Gen. J. B. MAGRUDER, Commanding, &c., Yorktown, Va.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge your letter of the 12th instant, reporting the result of a reconnaissance made by your orders of the condition of the enemy at Newport News and your proposed movements in the event of an advance by him up the left bank of the river. As regards the steamer Virginia, the Secretary of the Navy informs me that she went into the dock upon her arrival at Norfolk, with orders that neither labor nor expense should be spared upon her repair. It is hoped that she will be out at an early day.

I am, &c.,

R. E. LEE, General, Commanding.


YORKTOWN, March 13, 1862, (Received March 14, 1862.)

General S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector General:

To-day the enemy drove in our pickets 4 miles below Young’s Mill. Troops are being again landed at Newport News from the Baltimore boat. Please order at once to Williamsburg by the James River boats the regiment which the Secretary of War said he would send. When will the Virginia be out? The disposition of my troops and the nature of my operations depend upon the answer to this question. Answer by telegraph.

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.



MARCH 14, 1862.

The unarmed regiment promised by Secretary of War, to be armed by you with the surplus arms in your command, is expected here soon. It will thereafter be immediately sent to you. It is impossible to say when the Virginia will be in position; it is supposed in a day or two.




Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:

SIR: I have expressed to you my conviction that iron-clad vessels can pass all our batteries with impunity. In barricading the approach to Norfolk it was necessary to leave a narrow passage for our vessels to go out. The Virginia passed through it to get into the Roads the other day.

The question now is,Should not this passage be stopped? If done, it should be with the concurrence of the Navy Department.

I think the channel should be stopped, and our vessels kept inside for the protection of the town. I beg the subject may be considered, and if the work is done, it should be by order of War and Navy Departments.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

BENJ. HUGER, Major-General.



HDQRS. ARMY OF THE PENINSULA, Bartlett’s Ranche, March 13, 1862.

All the arrangements having been made for the defense of this Peninsula, and the commanding general, as the troops are stationed at different places, not having it in his power to be at the same time with each body of troops, the following directions are given for the government of all, viz:

When any body of our troops, large or small, meets with any body of the enemy’s troops, however large, the commanding officer of our troops will cause the enemy to be immediately attacked, and the men will attack at once and furiously. This is an order easily understood by officers and men and will doubtless be obeyed with alacrity by both.

The above instructions are not intended for those who have special orders under certain named circumstances not to fight.

By command of Major-General Magruder:

JOHN DONNELL SMITH, Acting Aide-de-Camp.


HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE PENINSULA, At Bartlett’s, near Bethel, March 14, 1862.

General R. E. LEE, Commanding General of the Confederate Armies, at Richmond:

GENERAL: I do not know your adjutant-general, and therefore address you personally.


First, allow me to congratulate you upon the high position to which you have been advanced of being Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate forces, and to predict for you, however long our triumph may be delayed, a career of usefulness to the country and great honor to yourself.

I come again under your command with pleasure, and will execute your orders with alacrity and zeal. I have not time now to write a long letter nor have you perhaps the time to read one, but it is necessary that you should know the state of affairs here at once; and I therefore inform you that the number of my troops is far too small in comparison with the magnitude of the forces in front of me as well as that of the great interests which I have to defend. When in Richmond last the Secretary of War asked me the strength of the garrison at Newport News, and I answered “about 4,000 or 5,000.” He desired me, in conjunction with Captain Buchanan, of the Navy, to capture them if possible. I readily assented, and proceeded to make the necessary arrangements. These were based, of course, upon the presumption that the garrison would remain as it was. Subsequently, in a conversation with Mr. Hunter I was asked what troops I could spare. I answered that I supposed about 5,000. The next morning, after reflection, I wrote a communication to Mr. Hunter, stating that I found upon calculation I could spare but 2,000, and them only to operate for a short time and within convenient distance, and also upon condition that their places would be supplied by militia, from whom I could substitute in some of my works for better-drilled troops.

Soon after my return and before the Virginia was ready troops began to assemble at Newport News, and they have been steadily increasing in numbers ever since, so that now they cannot fall much short of 20,000 men. In consequence of this increase of troops and of the roads being impracticable for artillery I advised the Government against the cooperation. The threatening attitude of Burnside caused them to send about 5,000 troops from my command, which leaves me some 4,500 infantry disposable for the field and about 500 cavalry. With this number there is no line across the Peninsula which I could hope to defend with success. The enemy is fully aware of my having sent troops across the river, though on Sunday last I sent troops in the immediate vicinity of Newport News, and have been operating since with the hope of deceiving him.

A telegraphic communication has been established between Fort Monroe and Washington. All the enemy’s ships of war have been sent out of the Roads except the Monitor Ericsson, and I expect an advance on James River every moment, supported by the Monitor, while the Virginia is in dock. No militia can be expected from the counties assigned to my district, as almost all of them have volunteered, the few remaining having been called out long since, not more than a few hundred in all.

I see by the papers that Burnside has landed his troops before New Berne. Under these circumstances is it not absolutely necessary to order back the troops which I sent to Suffolk? I certainly think so, and request that, in view of the above and of the heavy force at Newport News, which threatens the Peninsula, and the changed aspect of affairs at Suffolk, it may be done with the least possible delay. The infantry should come to City Point and by steamboats to King’s Mill, and the cavalry, artillery, wagons, and ambulances should march to Cart’s wharf and cross over to Jamestown Island. Should the enemy advance I should be compelled to withdraw at once the few troops


I have in front to my main line of defense behind Warwick River, the left resting on Yorktown and the right on Mulberry Island. That line is too long for the few troops I have, being over 8 miles to the mouth of the Peninsula, known as Mulberry Island, and about 14 miles from Yorktown to Mulberry Island Point, which is the corresponding work on James River.

The enemy has at least sixteen companies of good cavalry and about forty pieces of good light artillery. I have about 500 cavalry, all told, and about the same number of light pieces with [as] the enemy, badly mounted and equipped, disposable for the field, the rest being required in the various garrisons. I made requisitions for 50 artillery horses, but have not got them. I have the artillery harness ready.

To meet the enemy’s great superiority in cavalry I suggest that the Lunenburg Cavalry, from Fredericksburg, which is armed, and one or two companies from there, if they can be spared, and Capt. B. F. Winfield’s company, of Sussex, now at Richmond, armed, be sent to me, also a troop of horse in Petersburg and one in Mecklenburg, neither armed, be ordered to me, and be armed with shot-guns and lances. I think also that there has been an unequal distribution of counties from which militia is to be drawn. The call for the militia will not strengthen me at all, whilst the conflict between the laws of the State of Virginia and the Confederate States and the canvassing for the elections of officers that are to take place is disorganizing and demoralizing to a deplorable extent the twelve-months’ regiments and companies with me in this department.

To produce something like order out of this chaos, if possible, I desire to publish an order to the following effect, if it meet with the views of yourself and the War Department:

First. That none shall enlist out of this department in another.

Second. That men who re-enlist shall do so in the same arm of the service to which they now belong.

Third. That the artillery, light and heavy, shall be given only to the artillery officers, or those who have served with artillery who have already proved themselves worthy of having them.

Fourth. That all men who have re-enlisted under the idea that they can choose their arm of service shall organize as infantry, unless they are already artillery or cavalry, and shall afterward be exchanged by the commanding officer of the department, in accordance with their wishes, whenever it can be done without injury to the public service.

I sent a list of artillery officers, according to merit, at the request of the Secretary of War, for the information of the President. Since then some exchanges have occurred. Colonel Randolph has been made a general, and I would like to place the name of [J.] Thompson Brown as colonel instead of Lewis Brown. The latter I recommend to be lieutenant-colonel.

Should the troops sent to Suffolk be wanted there again they could be sent there in time, but unless sent at once here they will not be in time, I think. There is no indication of a possibility of troops crossing over to Suffolk from Newport News except up James River.

I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.

We have no more paper here.



WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A., Richmond, Va., March 15, 1862.

Maj. Gen. B. HUGER, Norfolk, Va.:

SIR: I have the honor of acknowledging the receipt of your letter of the 13th instant. The question of closing the harbor of Norfolk, suggested by you, is decided against your views. None of us are of opinion that it would be proper to lose the vast advantages resulting from the enemy’s fright at the bare idea of the Virginia reappearing among the wooden ships. The fact of her presence guarantees you against any attempt to blockade the river. It is, however, necessary to keep the necessary means of closing the Elizabeth River ready at hand for use at a moment’s warning in case the Monitor should attempt an entrance. The Nansemond River ought to be obstructed without delay.

I inclose you a letter, to be forwarded to General Wise after perusal by you. It explains itself. I also send herewith a voluminous report, 143 pages, sent to me by General Wise, for your remarks. You will find at pages 109 and 116 copies of his letters to you of February 10 and 11, which he evidently regards as his report, and which I asked you to send me, but which you seem not to have received. Congress has made a call for this report; but it cannot be sent in, if at all, without your comments, as it should regularly have been forwarded through you.

I am, your obedient servant,

J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War.


RICHMOND, VA., March 15, 1862.

Maj. Gen. J. B. MAGRUDER, Commanding, &c., Yorktown, Va.:

GENERAL: As far as I can judge at this distance the plan of constructing a defensive line between Yorktown and Mulberry Island by damming and defending the Warwick River promises the happiest results. I would therefore recommend to you, should you concur in this opinion, to apply as great a force on the work as possible. With your left resting on the batteries on York River and your right defended by the batteries on James River, with the aid of the Virginia and other steamers, I think you may defy the advance of the enemy up the Peninsula, supported as this line would be by your second system of defenses.

I am, &c.,

R. E. LEE, General, Commanding.


HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE PENINSULA, At Bartlett’s, near Bethel, March 16, 1862.

Gen. R. E. LEE, Commanding Armies of the Confederate States:

GENERAL: The enemy again drove in the pickets to-day on the Warwick road after exchanging fire. He appears to be operating with a considerable advance guard, supported by heavier bodies, between it and Newport News, so that it is difficult to cut off the advanced troops {p.69} without entangling my handful of men with very superior forces lying in wait. The country is open from the wood to James River, ascending with heavy wood on the right of it all the way. He generally advances a column on the road and one on the beach under the bank, and he occupies the wood in force. A party sent out by me this morning fell in with what was represented to be a large body of skirmishers in this woods, fired upon them, and one of the enemy fell. Our party consisted of five men, who retired to report the result of their observations. I immediately sent out about 1,000 men, all I had down here, to support the pickets, but the enemy had withdrawn. I presume this will be repeated daily until he either gains ground or keeps my forces from Yorktown and Mulberry Island, with a view of attacking a more vital point. I cannot keep my troops so far down as this without incurring great risk of losing the vital positions in my rear. So, if the enemy persevere, I shall be compelled in a very short time to withdraw the four regiments which are now in front to the second line, viz, from Yorktown to Mulberry Island. Upon the successful defense of this and its water flanks that of the whole Peninsula entirely depends.

I inclose you a communication from Colonel Cabell in relation to Harden’s Bluff. I applied more than three months ago to have this work transferred to my department, and sent Colonel Randolph and Mr. St. John, the engineer then in charge of the works of this Peninsula, to Richmond to press this subject upon the consideration of the War Department, but could get no answer. It is too late now probably to effect anything, but I am willing to do what can be done. The battery has been a naval battery, and is now commanded by Captain De Lagnel (late of the Navy, but now temporarily a captain in the Confederate Army). I recommend that the whole be placed under the command of the commanding officer, whoever he may be-at present Colonel Archer-while the guns and the men who serve them should be under the immediate command of Captain De Lagnel, who, however, I believe, is junior to the captains of artillery serving the guns; and, if so, ought to be made a major, as has been done in many similar cases, and as his services at this time cannot be spared.

I recommend that General Colston, who commands that portion of General Huger’s department, be ordered to call out forthwith all the negroes, with their axes, spades, &c., for the purpose of executing without delay any work which Captain Rives,in charge of the Engineer Bureau at Richmond, or Captain Clark, the engineer in immediate charge of the work, may require to be done. The decision as respects the rank, relative positions, and responsibilities of the officers at Harden’s Bluff I think had better come from yourself or the War Department, as I understand there is some feeling among them on this subject.

Has anything been heard at headquarters of Porter’s mortar fleet? I presume that now Yorktown will be the object of attack by the Monitor and that fleet, and I am doing my best to provide against this new danger.

I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER, Major-General, Commanding.


CURTIS’ FARM, March 13, 1862.


SIR: As directed by Major-General Magruder, I proceeded to-day to Harden’s Bluff. Seven of the largest guns have been placed en barbette, {p.70} having been previously placed in embrasure. There are six other guns to be placed en barbette The position I think singularly strong, if further assisted by art. The guns should be immediately placed in position. Traverses should be immediately thrown up. The fort is small, and this could be completed in a very short time. The woods come up immediately to the fort and surround it on all sides, except on the river front. They afford perfect shelter for an attacking force. The forest should be cleared with the utmost possible dispatch. In the woods a very short distance from the fort is a marsh, which nearly surrounds the fort. Over this marsh a road passes leading to the camp of Lieutenant-Colonel Archer. The road can be completely commanded by the fort, but the guns for this purpose are not yet in position. There are several wooden buildings recently erected inside the fort. I think they should be removed at once, with the exception, perhaps, of the one for commissary stores. Of this last I am doubtful. This should be removed as soon as a store-house can be erected in another position. The two artillery companies should be placed under the immediate command of the commander of the fort, and required to occupy their position either in the fort or immediately adjacent thereto. They should be drilled immediately at their pieces. The drill for some time has been suspended, I was informed, partly because some of the guns were being removed en barbette from the embrasures.

I do not wish to be understood as interfering in any question existing as to the command between the officers, but the exigencies of the service, the importance of that position as bearing on the defenses of James River, and particularly Mulberry Island batteries, and the batteries on the north side of James River generally justify my allusion to the necessity of its being immediately put in proper state of defense, and that the authority and respective rights and commands of the officers be distinctly defined.

I also recommend that bomb-proofs be erected and the batteries casemated with the utmost possible dispatch.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY COULTER CABELL, Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief of Artillery, P. A. C. S.


MARCH 14, 1862.

Harden’s Bluff batteries bear such a close relation to Mulberry Point Battery-the right flank of this department, for if that battery is taken the right flank may be considered as turned-that I feel authorized in calling the attention of the commanding general to the remarks of Colonel Cabell, within, in relation to the condition of that battery, especially as to the drill, the command, and its rear defenses.

L. MCLAWS, Brigadier-General, Commanding.


RICHMOND, VA., March 17, 1862.

General J. B. MAGRUDER, Commanding Army of Peninsula:

GENERAL: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 14th instant, and regret very much to learn the smallness of the number of your troops. I will endeavor to re-enforce you as soon as possible, but {p.71} at this time I see no immediate prospect The pressure of affairs in North Carolina renders it necessary to send there all available forces, even at the risk of hazarding the safety of other points, inasmuch as if the line of railroad through the State is possessed by the enemy it will cause us serious injury.

The object of sending a portion of your command to Suffolk was to prevent the seizure of that point by the combined forces of Generals Wool and Burnside. The latter is now at New Berne, but can easily transfer his troops back to Albemarle Sound, and, unless a change mu the supposed original plan of the enemy is more apparent, I think it unnecessary to cross your troops back to the left bank of James River yet awhile. I hardly think he will risk an attack upon you unsupported by his columns in other directions. I know, however, you will be vigilant in watching his movements, and should you ascertain that to be his intention, your troops will be immediately ordered back by the route you designate.

The Quartermaster-General will be informed that the artillery horses you require have not reached you, and be desired to send them as soon as possible. I had hoped that you had sufficient cavalry for your purposes. I have no knowledge of the service on which the companies named by you are placed, but will inquire.

As regards the militia, it is the object of the State to fill up from those enrolled by volunteer or draft its companies and regiments.

The disorganization of the regiments, &c., from the cause you mention is apparent, and some days ago the Military Committee of Congress were appealed to to draft a bill to accomplish what you desire. It is hoped some measure of relief will be passed.

I am, &c.,

R. E. LEE, General, Commanding.



HDQRS. ARMY OF THE PENINSULA, Yorktown, Va., March 17, 1862.

In going into battle commanding officers of companies will call the roll of their companies and in coming out of action the rolls will be called. Any member of the company absent at the latter roll call,unless killed or wounded, will be considered as having been derelict to the highest duty, and will be punished accordingly. The excuse sometimes given that men have left the field to carry off the wounded is inadmissible, as no man will be permitted to leave the ranks for such purpose, but when men are killed or wounded in the ranks their places will be filled by their comrades touching elbows toward the guide.


By order of Major-General Magruder:

HENRY BRYAN, Assistant Adjutant-General.


Main TitleThe War of the Rebellion: a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies.
Corporate NameUnited States. War Department.
Published/Created[S.l.], L.McKee and C.G. Robertson, 1859.
ContentsSer. I. v. 1-53 [serial no. 1-111] Formal reports, both Union and Confederate, of the first seizures of United States property in the southern states, and of all military operations in the field, with the correspondence, order and returns relating specially thereto. 1880-1898. 111 v.--ser. II. v. 1-8 [serial no. 114-121] Correspondence, orders, reports and returns, Union and Confederate, relating to prisoners of war and to state or political prisoners. 1894 [i.e. 1898]-1899. 8 v.--ser. III. v. 1-5 [serial no. 122-126] Correspondence, orders, reports and returns of the Union authorities (embracing their correspondence with the Confederate officials) note relating specially to the subjects of the first and second series. It embraces the reports of the Secretary of War, of the general-in-chief and of the chiefs of the several staff corps and departments ... 1899-1900. 5 v.--ser. IV. v. 1-3 [serial no. 127-129] Correspondence, orders, reports and returns of the Confederate authorities, similar to that indicated for the Union officials, as of the third series, but including the correspondence between the Union and Confederate authorities given in that series. 1900. 3 v.--[serial no. 130] General index and additions and corrections. Mr. John S. Moodey, indexer. Preface [by Elihu Root, Secretary of War]. Explanations. Synopsis of the contents of volumes. Special index for the principal armies, army corps, military divisions and departments. General index. Additions and corrections [arranged consecutively by volumes]. 1901.