Richmond, April 17, 1862.
I would respectfully recommend that the Virginia, after demaging the enemy's transports and destroying his means of communication in Hampton Roads as far as practicable, turn her ation to the harbor of Yorktown, if it is considered safe for her under cover of night to pass his army to Poquosin River and Wormerly's Creek, which are nearer his line of operations and safe from the assaults of our fleet.
Returned to the Secretary of War.
R. E. LEE,
RICHMOND, VA., April 16, 1862.
Honorable GEORGE W. RANDOLPH,
Secretary of War:
SIR: Your orders dated yesterday were received by me to-day. I immediately conferred with General Lee and found that his orders or designs of distribution of troops conflict with your orders to me. The two companies of the regiment which is now organizing under Leiutenant-Colonel Tyler he says belong to the Twentieth Regiment of Virginia Volunteers, which was disbanded, I am informed, and his purpose is to transfer them to Lieutenant-Colonel Pegram, of the Regular Army. This will leave for a nucles of my brigade the battalion of four or five companies not on parole under Colonel John H. Richardson. This, and this alone, would be my command if I assume any command in the Peninsula. Nothing is said about my cavalry, now full beyond a regiment, and nothing about my two companies of artillery with five field pieces, and nothing about the Third Regiment of Infantry, which was taken from my legion and is now at Goldsborough. A short time since at least eighteen companies of my legion were taken from my command, because the force was reduced below a brigade, and I was not allowed to retain them as a nucleus of a new brigade, and now I am left to elect whether or not to assume the command of a battalion of my legion, infantry alone, as the nucleus of a new brigade. Before I determined to do so or not, I beg leave most respectfully to inquire whether troops already organized into companies, battalions, or regiments will be assigned to my command, or, as in case of the legion, I will be expected to recruit and organize the additional forces to form a new brigade. Permit me to add that if additional troops are not soon assigned, or if I am expected to recruit them, the immediate exigencies of the current campaign will all be over before my new brigade is formed. I desire to be in the field, but not in command of one battalion alone, and I cannot consent to remain here only to superintend the organization of one regiment from which the purpose of General Lee is to take the only two companies remaining in it. I have seen General Johnston, some way at your earliest convenience from the doubt and delay which embarass me.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HENRY A. WISE,