over the bridges from above the enemy may, be short lines, turn and get in the rear of that place. In order to prevent such a disaster there should be, obviously, outside of and behind Alexandria, a force sufficient to throw out outpost guards, radiating upon the possible lines of advance of the enemy, to protect that place in the rear, and thus to support and cover the little force now held in Alexandria, and prevent its capture or annihilation. with such an arrangement the force in Alexandria could return, without danger of being surprised, and find support in falling back, upon the force in its rear. But I have absolutely nothing at present out of which to constitute such a supporting force in rear of Alexandria. As soon as I can collect the means, or you shall send them to me, I shall endeavor to make the best use of them to this end.
Very respectfully, your obedient,
PHILIP ST. GEO. COCKE,
Brigadier-General, Commanding Potomac Department.
HEADQUARTERS POTOMAC DEPARTMENT,
Culpeper Court-House, May 8, 1861.
Colonel R. S. GARNETT:
Your order of May 7, this moment received, stating that "The general in command is in want of information from you as to the strength and organization of your command, and begs that you will supply him with it at the earliest possible moment. The return due on the 1st instant by General Orders, Numbers 4, has not been received. The general desires particularly to know with what force you can take the field, provided any movement is made against you from Washington; how it would be composed, officered, and what service could be counted on from it." I have to say in reply that, coming to this command with "naked hands" and in my plantation dress, arriving in Alexandria on the morning of the 22nd of April, I have had everything to do towards organization, with extremely limited means of accomplishing anything. It has been entirely impracticable, in consequence of the want of my proper staff, until very recently, to initiate the means of obtaining the regular, formal, and full company returns and other returns which would show the strength and organization of the weak, unorganized, and widely scattered force under my command.
The assistant adjutant-general, since his appointment and entrance upon duty, has taken the most active steps to accomplish the objects desired by the commanding general. Those steps will be persevered in. Such partial returns as I have been able to obtain from time to time from captains, both in regard to number of men, arms, and ammunition, and general equipment, have been forwarded to the headquarters at Richmond, and will be found on file there.
The assistant adjutant-general, Jones, has this morning left me, by my order, under the pressing emergency of sending the only experienced officer of the army at my command to march with the Powhatan troop this moment en route for Manassas Junction, to assist in collecting, establishing, and organizing at that point the force that I may be able to command, to carry into effect the order of the general-in-chief, received yesterday, to occupy and hold that point against any probable attack of the enemy. I propose to follow myself to-morrow with such other forces as I can gather, going "by rail" to the same point, and