Upon my arrival I put myself in communication with Colonel De Rurry, of the Engineers, and consulted him upon two subjects:
First, as to the supply of water. I found that on that day the Minnesota was supplying herself from a well or spring on land of Mr. Clark, near the end of Mill Creek Bridge, about a mile from the fort, and that after pumping 800 gallons the well was exhausted, but refilled itself during the night, and from personal examinations of its surroundings I think it may be trusted to supply 700 to 1,000 gallons daily with a little enlargement of the reservoir. The water is of the best quality, and as it is immediately under the guns of the heaviest battery of the fort on the land side, I have thought it proper, with the advice of Colonel De Russy, of the Engineer Corps, to direct that a pipe be put in to bring it into the fort along the bridge and causeway, first having a cistern excavated at the fountain which will contain the whole supply of the spring. I have also advised with Colonel De Russy of the propriety of finishing the artisan well which had been begun here, and he is now in communication with a contractor for that purpose. There is an appropriation, as I understand, of $14,000 made by Congress for that purpose.
On Thursday I directed Colonel Phelps, of the Vermont regiment, to make a reconnaissance in force in Hampton and its neighborhood within two miles of the fort, in order to examine its capabilities for encamping the troops about to arrive, and at the same time I made personal examination of the ground, Colonel De Russy being of opinion that the wood suggested by the Lieutenant-General might be a little unhealthy, and I was further determined upon encamping in this direction by considerations of probable advances in this direction, to which I will take leave to call your attention soon. The rebels upon our approach attempted to burn the bridge over Hampton Creek, but the fire was promptly extinguished by the Vermonters, assisted by the citizens. Colonel Phelps passed into the village of Hampton, and found only a few citizens, who professed to be watching their negroes, in which occupation I have not as yet disturbed them. I therefore encamped Colonel Phelps' Vermont regiment and Colonel Carr's New York regiment on the point of land just above the spring, about half way between Fort Monroe and Hampton.
Saturday, May 25.-I had written thus far when I was called away to meet Major Cary, of the active Virginia volunteers, upon questions which have arisen of very considerable importance both in a military and political aspect, and which I beg leave to submit herewith.
On Thursday night, three negroes, field hands, belonging to Colonel Charles Mallory, now in command of the secession forces in this district, delivered themselves up to my picket guard, and, as I learned from the report of the officer of the guard in the morning, had been detained by him. I immediately gave personal attention to the matter, and found satisfactory evidence that these men were about to be taken to Carolina for the purpose of aiding the secession forces there; that two of them left wives and children (one a free woman) here; that the other had left his master from fear that he would be called upon to take part in the rebel armies. Satisfied of these facts from cautious examination of each of the negroes apart from the others, I determined for the present, and until better advised, as these men were very serviceable, and I had great need of labor in my quartermaster's department, to avail myself of their services, and that I would send a receipt to Colonel Mallory that I had so taken them, as I would for any other property of a private citizen which the exigencies of the service seemed