War of the Rebellion: Serial 014 Page 0516 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

Search Civil War Original Records

HEADQUARTERS,

Richmond, Va., May 14, 1862.

General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,

Commanding, &c.:

GENERAL: I have received your letter of this morning, and agreeably with your request I have directed General Winder to have a guard stationed at the railroad depot to arrest stragglers from your army. I have also ordered Colonel Walton to proceed with his artillery to report to you, with the exception of one battery, which was stationed on yesterday at chaffin's Bluff, to resist the ascent of the enemy's boats, or at least to annoy them.

As soon as I can replace the battery of Colonel Walton's command I will order it to join him.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,

General.

CAMP REAR GUARD, May 14, 1862.

Major-General HILL,

Commanding Third Division:

GENERAL: Yours of yesterday is acknowledged,* and in answer I beg leave to recall to your mind that my command was the first to leave Yorktown by your order, and consequently I know nothing of the location of "torpedoes" at the places mentioned, nor do I believe it, as wells or springs of water, barrels of flour, carpet-bags, &c., are places incompatible with the invention.

That invention is strictly mine, as well as the essential parts of Colt's weapons, for the use of which I have never been called to account.

If it be required to know what use I have made of the invention, I answer I commanded at Yorktown for the last seven months, and when General McClellan approached with his army of 100,000 men and opened his cannon upon us I had but 2,500 in garrison, and our whole Army of the Peninsula, under Major-General magruder, amounted to but 9,300 effective men; then, at a salient angle, an accessible point of our works, as part of the defenses thereof, I had the land mined with the weapons alluded to, to destroy assailants and prevent escalade. Subsequently, with a similar view, they were placed at spots I never saw.

And, again, when at Williamsburg we were ordered to turn upon our assailants and combat them, which we did successfully, most of us without food for forty-eight hours, having stood all night in the rain without fire or light, the second of our vigils, cold and drenched to the skin, we took up our line of march to the rear by order, and when physical endurance had been taxed to the utmost, at a place of mud slushes, where it was impossible for us to fight or bring a single cannon to bear, some 6 or 7 miles this side of Williamsburg, my command forming the rear guard of the army, and the enemy advancing upon our wearied and scattered troops, firing his cannon along the road, some four small shells, found abandoned by our artillery, were hastily prepared by my efforts and put in the road near a tree felled across, mainly to have a moral effect in checking the advance of the enemy (for they were too small to do more) to save our sick, wounded, and enfeebled, who straggled in our rear.

---------------

* See Mason to Hill, May 12, 1862, p. 511.

---------------