HEADQUARTERS AQUIA DISTRICT,
December 12, 1861.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General:
GENERAL: I have from time to time received information from the lower Northern Neck that makes me apprehensive of danger in that quarter. I fear the inhibition of trade, the absence of necessaries, such as salt, coffee, &c., and the heavy stares on the women and children incident to the absence of the men on militia and volunteer duty, are beginning to tell to the prejudice of our cause among the non-slaveholders. If the enemy do not attack our batteries in a few days I think we may conclude they do not design doing so, and I respectfully submit whether it will nit be better for me to withdrawn a regiment from Evan sport to replace Colonel Brockenbrough's very excellent regiment, which comes from that region, and sent it there to substitute the militia, which should be disbanded. The regiment is in a high state of discipline, full of enthusiasm, and its presence would mont fail to have a powerful moral effect on the people, and the same time give the protection of property they are so clamors for.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THE. H. HOLMES,
Major-General, Commanding District.
HEADQUARTERS, Centreville, december 13, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
SIR: I have just received your letter of the 9th instant, in which you inform me that the President "adheres to his order and excepts me to execute it" You add that "six weeks or more have elapsed since orders were formally given from this Department to be execute as early as in your discretion it could be safety done, and the President now finds the Mississippi regiments scattered as far as it is possible to scatter them, and General Griffith sent to your extreme left, although assigned by orders to the division of General Van Dorn, which is on the right."
I beg leave to say in reply that there has been no time within the last six weeks I was not read, cheerfully and zealously, to put into operations the changes prescribed in the order referred to, had I believed "it could be safety done"; but believing an attack from the enemy imminent at any moment and at any point, and teeming any change, however judicious in itself, to be incompatible with safety, I felt continent that the exercise of the discretion vested in me would meet the entire approval of the President.
The Mississippi regiments are occupying now precisely the position in which they were when the President Last visited this army more than two months ago, except the Twenty-first, which was sent to Leesburg to make up a Mississippi brigade. This was intended as a step towards arriving out the President's plan, to be consummated whenever opportunity might permit. general Griffith was sent temporarily to the extreme left, to command that brigade until the regiments indicated could without risk be transferred to General Van Dorn's division.
I bed leave again to assure the President that in the exercise of the discretion vested ion me I postponed the execution of his orders fully
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