Cockletown, July 31, 1861.
General G. B. COSBY, Headquarters Army of Yorktown:
MAJOR: I have the honor of sending by Privates H. H. and R. F. Elliott, Old Dominion Dragoons, four negroes, belonging to Mr. B. P. Lee. It has been reported that these negroes were left upon his plantation by their owner, and have been exceedingly troublesome to the residents in that vicinity. It is said that one of them abused a lady and threatened the life of her husband. These facts are mentioned that the general may place them under stick guard and not turn them over to their master, from whom they might escape and return to give further trouble.
I have also the honor to report that Privates Joseph and Benjamin Phillips, sr., returned to this place this morning, having visited the town of Hampton. They found it deserted by the enemy, and the bridge connecting it with Fortress Monroe torn down, a picket being stationed at the foot of the bridge, on the other side of the river, which, they were informed by the citizens, threatened to fire upon any one who showed himself on that side of the town. They have authentic information, also, that the force at Newport News is comparatively small. I am under the impression that it does not exceed 1,500 men, independent of the ships supporting them. The impression of the people of Hampton is that the place was evacuated very hurriedly last Friday, when my command was in that vicinity.
If desirable, this place can be burned now before it is reoccupied by the enemy, without trouble, by a small party. I should state, however, that the Messrs. Phillips found very few negroes in that place. They were informed that they were carried over the bridge previous to its evacuation, and it is supposed they were placed on the works at the Rip Raps.
I have the honor to report that, in the event of my having to remove my command hurriedly, I should have to abandon a good deal of public property here. The means of transportation provided is not sufficient to move the comforts absolutely required by a force of this sized, subject to the exposure an labor which the general is well aware has ben endured by the cavalry in the Peninsula. On my arrival here I found no means provided for the transportation of the effects of myself and staff, and have taken the liberty of retaining one wagon here for that especial purpose, which I trust will meet the approbation of the general commanding. All the transportation of the post in confined to the wagons assigned to the companies under my command. Every train not occupied in sending negroes to Williamsburg and transporting necessaries from Yorktown is constantly employed in hauling forage from the Back River county. It is considered that this is too much labor for these teams, the average distance that the forage is now hauled exceeding twenty-five miles. This will be increased by the necessity of going farther down the country. I should especially request that a regular quartermaster, with as large a train as can be spared, be sent here immediately, to haul off all the forage from the Back River country before the force of the enemy is so increased as to render it extremely dangerous to do so. A small force of cavalry would have prevented our drawing supplies thence to this time.
When I first assumed command at this post I had occasion to make a requisition for horseshoes and horseshoe nails; these stores have never been furnished. I have the honor to request the interference of the general commanding to this matter, that a large supply of horse-