[APRIL 25, 1862.-Brigadier General J. R. Anderson's brigade ordered from Richmond to Fredericksburg. See Series I, Vol. XII, Part III, p.867]
LEE'S HOUSE, April 25, 1862.
Major General D. H. HILL:
GENERAL: I have just read your letter of this date, and Captain Pierson's report to you, inclosed with it.* This report shall be sent to the Secretary of War as soon as practicable.
I have always supposed that McLellan's effort would be to turn our left by getting possession of York River.
I asked by telegraph yesterday for long-range guns for you; the Secretary promised five more than a week ago. I'll telegraph again.
Do I understand you to say that your men already require relief? I suppose not, as there has [been] no occasion yet for fatiguing service. It will be necessary to husband their strength and to require of them but the amount of exertion they are able to endure.
It seems to me too late to make the obstruction to navigation that you purpose. It would require, if we had the cable, a long time to prepare the floats and put them in position. It is very unfortunate to be placed in such a command after the enemy has had time to prepare his attacks.
Yours, respectfully and truly,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
WAR DEPARTMENT, Richmond, April 25, 1862.
Major General D. H. HILL, Yorktown:
DEAR SIR: I regret extremely the bursting of the rifle guns, but do not attribute it to fould play, as they were cast by Southern founderies. The scarcity of metal has caused the use of inferior qualities, and hence these accidents. The usual test is no safeguard, for the gun may be fired thirty or forty times before it bursts, and overcharges for the purpose of testing weakens the gun.
We have sent you a smooth 10-inch and will send immediately a smooth 8-inch gun; these are safe, and in my judgment are better guns than the rifled guns.
We cannot rely upon the latter,and for the present have ceased to make them. We fully appreciate the policy you speak of, and have pursued it to an extent that has exposed some vital points. The difficulties of your position are great, and if the Peninsula were merely at stake we should not hesitate to evacuate it rather than subject the troops to losses from sickness and the superior artillery of the enemy. But Norfolk would go, almost our entire Navy would be lost, an immense amount of material would be captured, and we should gain no better position nearer to Richmond for the defense of the city. There is much that can't be trusted to paper, and I must request you to destroy this. A short conversation would convince you of the necessity of defending our present position as long as possible.
Very truly, yours,
G. W. RANDOLPH,
[Secretary of War.]