batteries, and take measures in the event of the enemy's passing those batteries to destroy those wharves and impede the landing of the enemy in every way, and to display such a force opposite the wharves and landings which the enemy may approach as to delay his advance while the body of your army is being withdrawn behind the proposed new line. Of course you will understand that these positions to cover the withdrawal of your army are only to be occupied by you in the event of the danger of the enemy's passing the river batteries becoming so imminent as in your judgment to render it necessary.
In the mean time you will only select suitable places to be occupied by you in the happening of the contingency above mentioned, and make such preparations as may be necessary to accomplish the purposes above indicated. All the information received here leads me to believe that the troops of the enemy now being concentrated at Old Point are drawn from the army that has heretofore been threatening the lines lately occupied by the Army of the Potomac under General Johnston.
I am, general, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS, Richmond, Va., March 26, 1862.
Major General J. B. MAGRUDER,
Commanding, &c., Yorktown, Va.:
GENERAL: Your telegram of to-day to the honorable Secretary of War has been referred to me for a reply.
I would remark, in commencement, that no secrecy, either as to your movements or views, can be maintained if you make them the subject of telegraphic dispatches. Experience shows that information transmitted by telegraph becomes known, and is even reported in the public journals. I would advise, therefore, that all matters important to be concealed should be made the subject of a letter. In the present instance I fear both your plans and condition will become public.
My letter of this morning will explain to you the views taken as regards the position and designs of the enemy, and the measures contemplated to meet the emergency should it be discovered that his intention is to advance by way of the Peninsula.
As far as I am able to judge, your strongest line of defense is that between Yorktown and Mulberry Point, which I believe had been adopted by you, and I think can best be held as long as your flanks are not turned by the passage of the enemy up either river. If you abandon that line I know no better position you could assume on the Peninsula.
I would advise that in assembling a council of war it should consist of only a few of the principal officers of your command. The disadvantages of a large council will be apparent to you.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
P. S.-Your telegram relative to the detailed men at "Glass Island" has been received, but is not understood, no one here knowing anything of "Glass Island."