fertile portion of the Rappahannock Valley between Layton's and Mount Taliaferro. Both positions might be occupied.
For the lower river, if deemed advisable, protection against marauding parties can be furnished by a light battery of rifle pieces, which can take positions in open works prepared for them beforehand. I respectfully request instructions on the subject of this letter, as Lieutenant Howard is here, and can be directed to proceed at once in construction.
Very respectfully, yours,
ALFRED L. RIVER,
Acting Chief Engineer Bureau.
HEADQUARTERS RAPIDAN, March 20, 1862.
General R. E. LEE:
SIR: I have just received the dispatch in which you ask if Major-General Longstreet cannot be spared to command in North Carolina, and say that his place will be filled by another appointment.
I respectfully represent to the President that General Longstreet's removal from his present command would be attended with most injurious effects. Major-General Smith's health is precarious; it is necessary therefore that there should be in this army at least one other general officer (major-general) of courage and ability. General Longstreet's value here, commanding troops devoted to him, and confident in his skill and courage, is far greater than it can be elsewhere . The person intended to fill his place here might, I respectfully suggest be assigned to the command in North Carolina with great advantage to the service.
This army has already been much weakened by the transfer of several favorite officers of high rank. It occupies a most important position. I beg the President to consider if it would be well it still more, and to grant me General Longstreet's continued aid.
Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. E. JOHNSTON,
FORTIETH VIRGINIA REGIMENT,
March 21, 1862.
Major General T. H. HOLMES,
Commanding Aquia District:
GENERAL: I desire to call your attention to the demoralized and disorganized condition of our Virginia troops and to suggest that some plan should be immediately adopted to reorganize them upon a permanent basis.
The action of our Confederate and State Legislatures have been conflicting, fickle, and almost incomprehensible. The constructions placed upon the different bills by our officers have been alike unsatisfactory.
First, we have a Confederate bill allowing men to change their companies, regiments, and even their arm of service. Next, we have a State bill, requiring the reorganization of all the old companies in the same arm of service, and requesting that no more Virginia troops be received into the Confederate service until the old companies have been in creased to a hundred each.