assume much larger proportions, it might be possible for the enemy to shut up our force now assembled there, and, with superior numbers, pass on with a heavy force and occupy the valleys beyond, in Western Virginia. If this should ever be suspected to be the plans of the enemy, of what use would it be to hold on to Harper's Ferry? In such a state of affairs, it would be much better to abanond the Ferry altogether, remove the machinery, destroy the buildings, blow upon the bridge, and move out into the valleys, and thus maneuver against the advancing enemy; in addition to which a force should be sent at once up the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to blow up the tunnels, and burn the bridges on Cheat River, and otherwise cause such damage to the road as to render impossible the passage of a force from Wheeling or Parkersburg.
I inclose a small sketch of the position at Harper's Ferry, the various roads in the vicinity being marked by red lines.
The major-general commanding will understand that a report of this nature, being that of raw volunteers, just arrived (from long distances in several cases), is not of so minute a character as it would be with troops of better training and of more experience in war.
Lieutenant Colonel, and Insp. General C. S. Army.
WILLIAMSBURG, VA., May 24, 1861.
Commanding Virginia Forces:
SIR: The inclosed letter was received by me this morning from Major Cary. It seemed to be so important that I immediately started for this place. There has been a large accession of force at Old Point. (For the details see the inclosed report of Major Cary.)* Finding, on my arrival here, that Major Cary had gone to Old Point to see General Butler, and considering it better for me to be present at the interview, I followed, and was, after getting in proper form within the pickets of the Federal troops, unceremoniously dealt with; was taken prisoner and marched into the fort. By the kindness of Colonel Dimick a release was at once given, and I returned directly to Williamsburg. I thought it best to order the destruction of the bridge across Hampton Creek. I have given such general directions in other respects as conform to your orders.
BENJ. S. EWELL,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Virginia Volunteers.
MAY 24, 1861-7.15 p.m.
[Colonel J. B. MARGRUDER:]
SIR: I regret to inform you that Lieutenant-Colonel Ewell was taken prisoner at Fort Monroe; under what plea I have not been able to understand. I had requested an interview with Major-General Butler (now in command) this morning, which was granted at 3.30 p.m. My main object was to ascertain how far he intended to take possession of Virginia soil, in order that I might act in such a manner as to avoid