I am without camp equipage and field artillery (Captain Walker's company excepted), and request the general's early consideration of the subject.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General Virginia Volunteers, Commanding Forces.
FREDERICKSBURG, VA., May 4, 1861.
SIR: In obedience to your verbal orders, I have examined Mathias Point, on the Potomac, and the shores of the Rappahannock to its mouth, with the view of selecting proper points for batteries, to prevent the enemy passing up those rivers, when we think proper to do so. Mathias Point is a bluff headland, twenty feet above the water, and while I was there a war steamer passed the point and showed me the channel. I also made inquiries of persons who were recommended to me by the gentlemen in neighborhood, and learned from them that the extreme distance from the shore to the farther side of the channel is not over three-quarters of a mile, and that a vessel would be in that range at that distance for one mile. I would recommend at Mathias Point a semicircular sunken battery, on the side next the river, for ten heavy guns, and an entrenchment, with a strong profile and plan, on the land side. Should the enemy attempt to land on the point between Gambo Creek and the Potomac, or go up Machodoc Creek to land, with a view of attacking the fort, a detachment would be required at that point to prevent their landing.
After examining Mathias Point, I proceeded across to the Rappahannock River and examined a point called Bristolmine Creek. The bluff in the intersection of this creek with the river is high (sixty-five or seventy-five feet), and commands the river completely, both up and down; and the guns of a battery at his point would cover the ground inland all around. The ridge between Bristolmine and Machodoc Creeks falls suddenly towards the valley of the Mattox Creek, and this sink extends about fifteen miles down the neck between the Potomac and the Rappahannock, and is completely overlooked from the ridge, so that no force could land below and march up the country without being observed from many points on the ridge. There are two roads passing up this ridge; one by Millville, at the head of Rosier's Creek, and the other at the head of Bristolmine Creek. The intervening ridge is covered with a dense forest, and the roads through it could be easily obstructed, should the enemy attempt (which is not likely) to pass through it. Detachments at Millville, and at the road at the head of Bristolmine Creek, would be in good positions to watch the country below, and to offer resistance to their march. This line of defense, in conjunction with forts at Mathias Point and the White House, which would prevent the enemy using the Potomac, would protect the railroad communication with Richmond on the east side, and keep up the line to the South, through the Carolinas, as well as the nature of the ground and the very extensive line will admit, from Jamestown to the White House.
At your request I accompanied Commander Lewis down the Rappahannock River to its mouth. The points lowest down the river where batteries would be effective in preventing the passage of vessels are at Lowery's and Accokeek Points, about seven miles below Tappahannock. The channel does not exceed three-guarters of a mile from these points,