Today in History:

67 Series I Volume IX- Serial 9 - Roanoke


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 Captain 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, it if 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 recommended 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,


Major-General, Commanding.

We have no more paper here.