treat of the enemy, and find ourselves unexpectedly obliged to flee before him or fight him in his entrenchments. .
In view of the harassing policy adopted by the enemy, it seems to be necessary to keep a stronger force than hitherto on the important points of the river. the forced marches we are obliged to make, without any real service, discourage and demoralize the troops, and greatly weaken the division or any sudden emergency. We have now but four smoothbore 6-pounder guns with the division. The others are at different points of the river, where they seemed to absolutely required on account of threatened movements of the enemy. I should be glad to know if, by any combination of events we should be compelled to move suddenly, I might be permitted to call on General Dix or General Stone for assistance in artillery..
I beg permission to suggest, in addition to the observations contained in a former letter upon the reconstruction of the road, that until we hold so much of the country through which it passes as to enable us to protect the whole, it will avail but little to attempt the reconstruction of any part of it..
I can only add to the suggestion then made my belief, formed upon recent events, that the enemy will resist with all its power the reopening of the road. This does not change my opinion as to its practicability. It demands, however, that we should undertake the work at our won time and with full preparation,a nd especially that we should avoid being drawn into this country be adventitious circumstances, promising no certain good, and having no connection and offering no support to the great work in contemplation..
I hope for the full and speedy recovery of the Commanding General. That he may soon regain his strength, and not allow the impatience of Congress or of the people to move him from the development of his material plans for one moment, is the earnest wish of one who wishes well to his country and the commander of its forces..
With much respect, I am, your obedient servant,.
N. P. BANKS,.
Major-General, Commanding Division..
HEADQUARTERS HOOKER'S DIVISION,.
Camp Baker, Lower Potomac, Maryland, January 8, 1862.
Brigadier General S. WILLIAMS,.
Adjutant-General, Army of the Potomac:.
I have reason to believe that the rebel force in my front has been considerably reduced within the last two days. At the time the last deserters came in to my camp (January 3), there were since six encampments visible from this side of the river; now I can see but two. Not knowing but the smoke of their camps might be concealed from their new mode of encamping, which is that of excavating tenements on the side of the hills, direction were given to my pickets to observe their reveille and tattoo calls, and they report to me that they can hear but those of two regiments. I therefore conclude that some of the regiments have been removed..
Long before daylight this morning a heavy cannonade was heard to the south, which turns out to have proceeded from two or three vessels of the second division of the flotilla off Aquia Creek. I am informed that they engaged in shelling a rebel camp, but as it was done in.