enemy as circumstances may dictate." On reaching Chaffin's Bluff, finding one of my iron-clads temporarily disabled (now ready for service), and having our observations of a week ago corroborated by two deserters from the enemy's vessels that day, of the continued presence in and near Trent's Reach of four monitors, and on account of the known difficulties, under the most favorable circumstances, of the navigation of Trent's Reach and the channel leading to it, together with devices that the enemy might be supposed to resort to in order to obstruct my approach for attacking him in the most favorable position for him that could be selected in the whole river, I have delayed proceeding farther down to avoid showing my force and movements until every preparation is made to insure an attack upon his monitors. From the difficulties before stated in the navigation of the river, it is uncertain whether our iron-clads can get into position to make an attack at all, and even if the channel were open to us our vessels will have to approach in "line ahead" in water barely sufficient to float them at high tide, only the leading vessels being able to use a single gun, and these movements of our iron-clads require daylight. I am preparing, however, for a night attack to take place just before the dawn of day by four or five gun-boats with torpedoes and five vessels, the latter also having torpedoes attached to them. To give promise of success, the preparation should be completed and each actor be made fully to understand the part he is required to perform. This will render necessary some little delay, when the only remaining considerations will be the tide and the weather to determine the day for making the attack. If there were any certainty in the iron-clads being able to united with or follow up the attack by gun-boats with five vessels and torpedoes, no hesitation could be felt in making it, but as this is very doubtful it important, to insure a reasonable prospect of complete success to the attack by the gun-boats and five ships, to have the support of the heavy battery of 200-pounder Parrott gun and columbiads at Howlett's, proposed by you. Such support is not deemed necessary for the iron-clads. I would therefore respectfully ask of you the favor of naming some time, if practicable, when the battery referred to may be ready to open upon the monitors of the enemy. I have thus freely communicated my views to you, deeming them essential to a proper understanding of the position of the opposing naval forces.
I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,
John K. MITCHELL,
Commanding James River Squadron.
RICHMOND, VA., May 31, 1864.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia:
GENERAL: I have just learned that the bill has passed to permit assignment to command with temporary rank. It has not reached me, but to save time I have directed nominations to be made, as required by the act. Terrill to command Pegram's brigade; Early to command Ewell's corps. Shall Ransom be promoted to command Early's division? Will you name a commander in that event for Ransom's brigade? Please notify me of other wants. Conner and Barringer were nominated yesterday for permanent rank as brigadier-general, Provisional Army, C. S. Hoke has gone--one brigade on railroad; three brigades