Today in History:

41 Series I Volume IX- Serial 9 - Roanoke


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 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, order by the engineers from Richmond, are but half furnished, and until finished that post will remain in great danger. If the Government cannot furnishing 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 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 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 obliged to retrace his steps or lay siege to it. If he disregarded my approached 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 expedition march from Edenton to Suffolk, after