viaduct along the Cheat River, in the Alleghany Mountains, furnish abundant places for such irremediable damage, provided we are in advance of the invaders. Nor would any large force by required, provided it was well distributed and under competent commanders.
I pray you to receive as my excuse for these, perhaps, intrusive suggestions, the deep and anxious interest we all have in the great stake at hazard in Virginia.
Very respectfully, and truly yours,
J. M. MASON.
Fredericksburg, Va., May 15, 1861.
Colonel R. S. GARNETT, Adjutant-General Virginia Forces:
SIR: In reply to the inquiry of the General-in-Chief of the 14th instant I have the honor to report that I have given the subject of the defenses of the river counties particular attention, and that the following points embrace my conclusions, viz:
1st. That those counties are greatly exposed to predatory inroads, and constitute and important portion of our line of defense.
2nd. That there is a deficiency of arms and ammunition in those counties generally, for purposes of local defense.
3rd. That the best method of supply and distribution is to arm such volunteer companies as may be thoroughly organized and mustered into the service of the State. (Please see General Orders, Numbers 9, of the 11th instant, and copy of a letter, of this date, to a committee of gentlemen from Lancester Country, Virginia, connected with this subject.) To insure proper accountability, receipts of captains of companies mustered into service should be taken for all arms and accouterments.
4th. The establishment of camps of instruction at one point in each county, and, as nearly as practicable, in exposed districts.
5th. I also respectfully recommend that the militia be ordered to hold themselves in readiness for service, in their own defense, at all times, while engaged in their own avocations, and without expense to the State.
6th. I have furnished sixty muskets, one thousand ball-cartridges, and one hundred and twenty flints, on the requisition of the committee from Lancaster County, for Captain Robinson's company, which will soon be mustered into the service of the State.
I have deemed it expedient to muster in two companies in that county, as a basis on which the militia may rally, in the event of invasion, as well as to preserve the tranquillity of the community. These companies, and an equal number from each of the neighboring counties, will probable be required to make up two regiments of infantry and riflemen in the district I command, for the active service of the field.
Should the plan thus far pursued (supposed to be in conformity with the commanding general's views) not correspond with the existing policy, I shall hope to receive early information, so as to adopt an approved rule of action.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Colonel, Provisional Army, Commanding Forces.