There are at this place three tenements, owned and inhabited by citizens; these horses are necessary for the accommodation of the sick and for depots for quartermaster's and commissary stores. These citizens refuse to leave them or to rent them to the government for any reasonable sum.
I have no hospital yet established, and there is no means of providing other hospital accommodations that those afforded by huts, and it is essential to have a ventilated bolding for this purpose, and it is important to have control of all the tenements within the limit of our lines. I believe an exorbitant rent would be charged, and perhaps a spirit of resistance to military interference would prevent the possibility of renting at any price. I ask instructions as to the powers I possess under the law.
An armed vessel of the United States steamed into York River yesterday, and approached within some three times of our works. She did not, however, venture to approach nearer, but seemed to be engaged in sounding the channel at the mouth of the river. no boats were sent out from her and no attempt made to land troops; other steamers of the enemy have been observed in Mobjack Bay and just without the mouth of York River.
Our water battery is now armed with three 9-inch guns, and the men
have been constantly instructed in the working of the guns by Captain T. J. Page, of the Navy.
Should the enemy land in force on this side of York River, either on the York or the waters of Severn, it would be necessary to resist them with a much larger force of infantry than that now at his post.
There are but two infantry companies here, and the light batteries are without horses.
For so small a command as there now is here, and I see no probability of its being increased materially for some time, I beg to suggest the necessity of fortifying the land approaches in our rear, and I ask that, should it meet the approbation of the general commanding in chief, a military engineer be ordered here to plan and lay out the works.
I have found it entirely impossible, from the absence of all accommodations for the troops and from the constant detail of almost the entire strength every day for work in landing and placing in position the heavy guns, to effect a proper organization, or to devote much time to drill or instructions.
No blank forms have as yet been received, and I ask that you will forward them. I have no blank requisitions, and suppose it is unnecessary to forward a requisition. I will send receipt if necessary.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. B. TALIAFERRO,
Colonel, Commanding Post.
ADJUTANT AND INSPECTOR GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Montgomery, May 15, 1861.
Brigadier General JOS. E. JOHNSTON, C. S. A. Montgomery, Ala.:
SIR: Having been appointed a brigadier-general in the Army of the Confederate States, you have been assigned by the War Department to the command of the troops near Harper's Ferry. In proceeding to that point the Secretary of War directs that you take Lynchburg in your route, and make arrangements there for sending forward to Har-