lery. With this force I desire you to repress marauding parties of the enemy; to sweep the country of negroes from Back River and near Newport News to Harrod's and Young's Mills, below which line no negroes, unless attached to the Army, shall be allowed to go. I wish also to destroy or capture all parties of the enemy which may venture far from their posts and works. If the negroes in the Back River region and on the James River can be surprised and captured at night or by day by small parties of troops who know the country, and they are willing to undertake it, let them do it, supported by cavalry, infantry, or both stationed at proper distances.
The instructions as to the disposition, in Order Numbers 179, herewith, * you need not regard as rigorous, but only intimations of my views.
Should you divide your column, I desire that Colonel Cumming should command that on James River accompanied by some of the best of Old Dominion Dragoons and Curtis' company of Warwick Beauregards, retaining for yourself Sinclair's Company of York infantry. It is desirable that your movements should be as prompt and secret as possible, as in consequence of the two great victories we have achieved at Manassas and the information I have received from the naval officer stationed at Dene [Gren] Point, I am under the impression that the number of troops has been considerably diminished at Fort Monroe, Hampton, and Newport News. Indeed, Captain Fitzgerald, of our Navy, who has just come over, informs me that no tents are to be seen at the latter post, and it is stated that it is abandoned. I can scarcely think this, but wish you to send skillful scouts to ascertain it, and other soldiers who know the country, or reliable negroes, to ascertain the state of things at Hampton, and be guided by the results, informing me if these reports be true by swift express. I do not give you detailed instructions, but request you to confer with Major Hood, Captain Phillips, and others who know the country perfectly.
Should you at any time occupy a position at Young's Mills, remember, at all times, to keep a strong force at the head of the mill-dam, on your left flank, near M. Wall's house, and concealed in the wood which skirts his farm. Also to keep vedettes on Young's farm, on your right flank, or James River, to inform you of any attempt of the enemy to land there, which is not at all improbable. Kit Curtis' lane is considered a safe position for troops on the York road, and I was informed by a negro safe position for troops on the York road, and I was informed by a negro of M. Wall's that the road from Curtis' to his master's house was a straight one, and only about two miles from thence.
Should, upon this expedition (which I do not anticipate), or at any other time during your service in the lower part of the Peninsula, your troops stationed at Young's Mills be attached, and you have troops stationed in Curtis' lane, a march by the latter through the road leading to M. Wall's would enable you to fall upon his right flank and rear, and thus secure an easy and complete victory; or should you ever be attacked at Harrod's Mills, and have troops stationed at Young's Mills, a march from the latter to the former, by Mr. John Patrick's, would enable you to accomplish the same result.
I state also, for your information, that Colonel Mallory has completed the works at Ship Point, on the Poquosin River; that Captain Smith, of the artillery, has probably already planted two guns in them. Malory's force consists of Smith's company of artillery, and he informs me of two hundred and thirty militia.
I desire, whenever you can, that you will give to the late Colonel Dreux's battalion of Louisiana volunteers (now Lieutenant-Colonel