Today in History:

887 Series I Volume II- Serial 2 - First Manassas


front of Williamsburg. I have not had a moment's time to examine the country farther than within the circumstance of seven or eight miles. I therefore have not been to Williamsburg. I am perfectly satisfied, however, that if the enemy land in force at either of the places on the James River above mentioned and march upon Williamsburg, it will fall, unless strongly re-enforced, or unless I march to operate on his flank and rear while he is making the attack, in which case I should leave this point entirely uncovered and expose it to an attack in its rear from Fort Monroe. This place carried, Gloucester Point is commanded, and the enemy's ships enter York River. In case of such an alternative, I should decide to defend this place to the last, unless I was satisfied that I could march upon the enemy, beat him, and return in time to meet an attack from the neighborhood of Fort Monroe. Anticipating before I left Richmond that the landing places below Jamestown Island would soon become insecure, I wrote from the depot to the Quartermaster-General a note, begging him to send some lighters of an appropriate kind to ply between Jamestown Island and the mainland on the road to Williamsburg, to enable the commanding general to throw rapidly into the latter place, if he thought proper, the necessary troops and supplies. I do not know if this has been done. It is absolutely necessary that the facilities of both rivers should be used to the utmost to carry on vigorously military operations in the country embraced between them. I know the troops are needed on every line, but I believe I cannot overrate the importance of preserving a numerical superiority of all arms over the enemy on the line of operations between this place and Jamestown, the lowest defensible points on the two rivers, while the works between Queen and College Creeks are being erected. I would respectfully represent, therefore, that the line from Yorktown to Jamestown be occupied by from eight to ten thousand men, and the defenses at the extremities - that is, at mouth of York River and Jamestown Island, be strengthened in every conceivable manner. I wanted Colonel Ewell to cause to be collected the most combustible materials at the wharfs at the landings below Jamestown Island, and to cause these wharfs to be burned whenever the enemy, in great force, makes an unmistakable demonstration to land. I close for fear of detaining the steamer. The second navy gun is in position, and I hope the third will be to-morrow night.

Major Cary and his command have just arrived, confirming the report of a large collection of troops at Newport News, and the presence, near that point, of a large fleet, destination unknown. I beg leave to call the attention of the General-in-Chief earnestly to the fact that there are but fifty rounds of ammunition for the navy batteries, the shells being without fuses, and, if four guns were mounted, there would be only about twelve rounds each. The navy officers reports a coil of heavy rope needed to make wads with. Please also direct one hundred rounds of ammunition to be sent for a 6-pounder gun, brought in by Major Cary, and one hundred rounds for a 12-pounder howitzer, likewise brought in by him. The formal requisition will be sent afterwards.

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


Colonel, Commanding Hampton Line.