WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., March 15, 1862.
Major General B. HUGER, Norfolk, Va.:
SIR: I have the honor to 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 it, 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.
Major General 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,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE PENINSULA,
At Bartlett's, near Bethel, March 16, 1862.
General 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