HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
June 2, 1863.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President of the Confederate States, Va.:
Mr. PRESIDENT: I have had the honor to receive yesterday your letter of the 31st ultimo.
I am well aware of the difficulties pressing upon all parts of the country, and of your great anxiety to relieve them. The question which seems always to be presented is a wise choice of difficulties.
I think Cooke's brigade had better be halted on the Chickahominy for the present, and Davis' brigade sent forward to this place to complete Heth's division. I retreat to lose Ransom and Jenkins, both good and tried officers with veteran troops. As well as I now recollect, Pettigrew's brigade was on the line of the Blackwater when the regiments from the west were brigades there under Pryor.
Upon the arrival of General Longstreet he made some changes, detaching Jenkins, in whom he had confidence, from Picketts' division, in order to place him in command. The western brigade was placed subsequently under General Colston, and afterward the brigade was placed subsequently under General Colston, and afterward the brigade was broken up, and the regiments sent back to Generals Jones and Marshall.
I do not know the condition of the cavalry proposed by General Hill to be sent to this army. He offered a regiment, and I accepted it, but, if it is of the character described by you, it had better be retained. I understand there is a good regiment on the Blackwater as regards men and horses, but it is at present in an unfortunate condition o account of a difficulty between the colonel and officers. If that could be reconciled, they would be very serviceable.
I think it would be better if General Robertson were in command of the cavalry within the State, as he is a good organizer and instructor, ut General Hill does not appear to require him. I would then brigade the North Carolina regiments in this army, under Colonel baker, from that State, who is said to be a good officer.
I requested to be relieved from command of the troops between the james and Cape Fear Rivers because I did not see that I could advantageously exercise it, but, on the contrary, to continue in it might be productive of harm. I could only exercise it beneficially by relying upon the judgment of General D. H. Hill, who declined to act upon discretionary orders, and I thought it best for the service to leave him to his own discretion. The only object of command, in my opinion, is the benefit of the service. I hope the forces we can place near Richmond will be able to secure it against attack from the York or James river. The local troops of the city should be organized promptly, and be kept in readiness for service at any moment. With Cooke and Wise advance, the one to the north and the other to the east, under Elzey, we will have a sufficient out-guard, and for the present I will leave Pickett and Pettigrew at the Junction. If I am able to move, I propose od so cautiously, watching the result, and not to get beyond recall until I find it safe.
If a brigade of cavalry, under a good officer, could be placed north and east of the city, to repress the marauding expedition of the enemy and prevent reconnaissances, I should feel it was safe. In case of emergency, I think General Hill's troops could be brought up from North Carolina, and be replaced there by some from General Beauregard.