Today in History:

42 Series I Volume IX- Serial 9 - Roanoke


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; thence 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 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 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 same 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 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,


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