or make it very difficult to hold them if constructed. High Point comes next. The river is full 2 miles wide here. In the military sense of the term the channel could not be "obstructed" by a battery so distant. Commercial vessels would, however, be reluctant to pass under its fire. The point I should not judge to be more than 30 or 40 feet high. It is wooded, too, within a few yards of the crest of the bluff. The water is so shoal for a mile or more in front of it that our own vessels of war cannot efficiently shell it. I think we may soon look for a battery here. Freestone Point comes next, and a battery exists there, supposed to have five guns, one of which (perhaps two) is said to be a rifled 30-pounder. In passing down the ship channel I found it impossible to distinguish this battery-the weather was not clear-but I can readily judge of its position. Its elevation is probably 50 or 60 feet, the gun rising still higher behind it, and, though its front was concealed by a skirt of wood, a corn field extends behind it one or two hundred yards, and then woods again clothing the elevation behind. To the left and southward are open slopes extending down to the water. Probably, therefore, the rear of the battery would be quite accessible, so far as physical obstacles are concerned, to an attack. Why has a battery been placed here so far from the ship channel of the Potomac? Not unlikely it is for defensive purposes, as I presumed those at Aquia Creek five weeks ago to be.
Cockpit Point is 40 or 50 feet high, with a very low spit projecting a few hundred feet into the river. The height is wooded, if I recollect rightly. From this point to the Quantico the river bank rises in irregular hills, partly wooded, partly open, offering numerous points where batteries could be established to bear by cross-fire on the channel. Even here, however, the narrowest part of the river after passing Hallowing Point until Mathias Point is reached, vessels can keep themselves from one and a half to two miles from the batteries. Shipping Point (Evansport) lies between the Quantico and Chopawamsic. A plateau, generally cleared, forms the termination of this peninsula, very near behind which the hills rise, and are generally wooded. The point next the Quantico is the most favorable for a battery, but it is level, open, and not more than 20 or 30 feet high, and easily accessible to our vessels. After passing the Chopawamsic the river widens, and the shores recede too much from the channel to offer favorable locations for batteries. The batteries of Aquia and Potomac Creeks need no special allusion in this brief communication. They are evidently defensive. Mathias Point is the one of the whole river (expect perhaps Whitestone) where the navigation could be most effectually closed. The favorable location for batteries is the northern extremity, comprising an area of no great extent, and thickly covered with young pines. Why has not this point been before this occupied by hostile batteries? Simply, I believe, because it would require a good many guns and a good many men to protect those guns at a remote point, where the men and guns would be lost for any other purpose than this subordinate one of interrupting our navigation. The enemy would not risk a battery here without either a strong field work for 1,000 men or a large field force on the vicinity. Such a field work we are perfectly sure had not been built, and the evidence is in favor of the opinion that there are no batteries there. The best way to prevent their construction seems to me to cut or burn off the pine wood. A regiment, I think, would cut it off in a few hours if protected by our vessels. If the timber will burn standing, an operation on a smaller scale will do the business. In the same manner the construction of batteries on Whitestone Point may be prevented.