untarnished. It is a beautiful one, and I trust it may be good service whilst in my hands. I have been very busy making such defenses here as I could, but my supply of tools has been so limited, that as yet only a small line of rifle-pits are completed. My main dependence here must be on rides, for I suppose the enemy will bring such heavy guns, and so many of them, that my artillery cannot fight them very long. As there seems to be a great diversity of opinion as to the object of my being placed here and the course I should pursue, whilst there appears to be no general plan of action settled on, may I ask you to give me direction how to carry out best your wishes? My own plan was to make this place as strong as possible and to hold it as long as I can. If forced to retire, shall back towards General Whiting or up in the direction of Bacon Race? I am sure that I can hold the position if attacked only in front for some hours at least, and if you want it held until re-enforcement can come up, I will do it. I have some apprehension that tugs may be able to run up close to the ferry, as there seems to be some considerable dept of water along the river here. General Van Dorn, who was here to-day, thinks that the enemy should be allowed to cross the river. No line has been chosen for any of the troops to fall back on, and I think the men would fight better if they are told to keep their position. I wish you could examine this country, or that General Beauregard or General Smith could do so. We hear nothing from our scouts, except that the enemy come down almost every day to Pohick Church. Troops can be landed at Deep Hole, and there is a very large body of cleared land around that place.
* * * * *
With my best wishes, I am, your, very respectfully,
RICHMOND, December 9, 1861.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding Department of North Virginia:
SIR: Your letter of 6th instant, addressed to the Adjutant-General on the subject of Order, Numbers 252 [of 3rd instant][, directions the formation of the two Mississippi brigades without delay, has been submitted to the President, who instructs me to reply that he adheres to his order, and except you to execute it.
Fully two months have elapsed since the President's verbal expression of his desires that the will of the Congresson on this subject should be obeyed. Six weeks or more have elapsed since orders were formerly issue from this Department, to be executed as early as in your discretion it could be safety done, and the President now finds the Mississippi regiment s scattered as far apart as it is possible to scatter them, and General Griffith sent to your entre men left, although assigned by orders to the division of General Van Dorn, which os on the right.
The President considers it necessary to re-enforce your right by adding to the strength of General Whiting's command, as already pointed out by yourself, and he therefore desires that the Thirteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Mississippi regiments be sent to General Whiting, to whose brigade they belong. You can replace the regiments thus drawn from Leesburg by any other brigade you am proper, calling back from Leesburg the-first Mississippi, to be brigade
* Some private and personal matter omitted.