the works now on the river have for their main object a river line of defense, and that they are not seriously thought of by the enemy as menacing the navigation of the Potomac. The considerable bodies of troops encamped near the batteries at Aquia Creek, Occoquan, Freestone and Mathias Points corroborate this suggestion.
The shores on each bank of the Potomac abound in excellent places for the embarkation and landing of troops, from some of which commanding position are easily and quickly accessible. Between Dumfries and the mouth of Powell River, on the Virginia side, there is a good shore for disembarkation, while from Budd's Ferry or Chapman's Point, on the west bank, a very large force could be conveniently and secretly put on board transports. If it were thought advisable to effect a landing lower down the river, menacing Fredericksburg and the enemy's line of communications, Pope's Creek and Lower Cedar Point, on the Maryland side, and the line from Roder's Creek to Monroe Creek, on the opposite shore, would deserve consideration, in view of the facilities afforded by an accessible open country for an advance.
The general commanding having directed my particular attention to Hilltop, in Charles County, I have to observe that it is a commanding position, overlooking an extensive valley to the left (southeast), unbroken almost to the bank of the Potomac. The valley is about a thousand yards in width, and proceeding east of north towards Budd's Ferry and the Chicamaxen River there is another range of hills nearly as high as Hilltop, which slopes gradually towards the river. The country is generally wooded, with occasional openings of cultivated land. The roads are ban, often passing through defiles. An advancing force could be impeded and harassed at every step, and for artillery the roads would present many serious inconveniences.
There are other facts and observations which I might add with reference to the topographical and military aspects of the country, but these are omitted, lest this communication might be found tedious. If a more particular report be desired, it will be promptly transmitted.
Several scouts were sent out by Colonel Dwight, but they were in every instance stopped while crossing the river by vessels of our flotilla. On Friday, after communicating with the commander of the Island Belle, from whom I have to acknowledge many courtesies and much valuable co-operation, I was enabled to land of the other side, near Mathias Point, several intelligent scouts, from whom a report may be expected at an early day.
One company, Captain Burgess' (Fifth Regiment), which was sent to Leonardtown, had not yet reported; it will probably reach camp to-morrow.
Inclosed herewith you will please find Colonel Dwight's summary of the several daily reports heretofore made, to which I respectfully invite attention.*
The population on his line of march were generally in communication with the enemy. He has, however, made but few arrests or seizures, in view of the very limited authority given to him by my instructions. One of the most important is that of one Jones, the manager of a ferry at Pope's Creek, who has been actively engaged in conveying men, arms, ammunition, and correspondence for the enemy. He will be sent to headquarters with several others as soon as Colonel Dwight's report of prisoners arrested and property taken is received.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
D. E. SICKLES,