comparative security, by completing the defensive works begun and in part finished, before the spring campaign opens, has not, I regret to say, been improved as it ought to have been. The value of these works in protecting the James and York Rivers, and with the former the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad (so accessible from many points on the James), whether we look at what may be required or at what they have already accomplished, cannot well be estimated in dollars and cents. As a citizen you are directly interested, and you will, by giving your aid, be doing good, individual and general. Not less than 1,000 or 1,500 negroes ought to be at work, and in six weeks, with this force, would the defenses be finished and rendered well nigh impregnable. The counties south and west of Richmond can well afford to furnish this labor. General Magruder has so frequently impressed the local labor, that he is not willing to make another call without an order from the war Department to this effect, and thus works are comparatively at a stand still. He has done all in his power. So important do I consider this, I would at once write to the Secretary did not my position forbid it.
BENJ. S. EWELL,
Colonel, Virginia Volunteers.
RICHMOND, VA., February 15, 1862.
Colonel EWELL, Commanding, Williamsburg:
SIR: You will immediately organize, on paper, all the nurses, employees of the Government of every department, to be ready at a moment's notice to defend the works in front of Williamsburg, and lay aside arms and ammunition for the same.
You will also prepare arms for any citizens, of whatever age, who are willing to turn out and assist in holding the works in front of Williamsburg should the lower defenses at Jamestown be passed.
The most important points to be defended are Tetter's Neck and Fort Magruder. You will place the negroes at the service of Mr. Derrick, the engineer, for the purpose, 1st, of preparing without the slightest delay the forts already constructed for the reception of guns; and, 2nd, of completing such works as may be unfinished. Infantry must be put on the right of Tetter's Neck to prevent its being turned, and what you may have must be put at once in position. Have men assigned to it and drilled, ammunition prepared, and the pieces fired by the men several times.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER.
Captain Lee's company and the One hundred and fifteenth Regiment Militia are ordered to report to you; you will dispose of them in the best manner possible.
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORFOLK,
February 24, 1862.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
SIR: I have reliable information that the enemy are sending strong re-enforcements to Old Point as well as to Tennessee, and I hear, for