this purpose, are withdrawing large numbers from Manassas. Within the last week several thousand men have been sent up to Newport News and more are to go. General Burnside is also being re-enforced, and the numbers collected on both sides of this place are becoming powerful armies. They threaten such long lines it is difficult for me to tell where to concentrate my forces, and, until I know more than at present, have to keep my forces near the lines of railroad.
The Ericsson (iron-clad) battery has arrived in the Roads, and will probably get one of our batteries to test her resisting qualities. I hear she carries two 11-inch guns.
I write this to call the attention of the Government to the probability of this place severely threatened by powerful forces, and a general attack may be expected in a week or more. From the same source I hear the mortar fleet, as it is termed, is destined for New Orleans.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major-General, Commanding Department.
YORKTOWN, VA., February 24, 1862.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:
SIR: I have the honor to state that on the 21st I received a dispatch from General Huger, stating four transports, loaded with troops had been sent to Newport News, and another dispatch from Captain Norris, my signal officer at Norfolk, that three regiments had been landed at Fort Monroe.
I beg leave further to state I reported on the 20th instant that the roads here were in extremely bad order. They are so much worse that it is very doubtful if artillery can be carried down the country, and it will be positively necessary to diminish the usual amount of ammunition by one-half if carried.
I am also satisfied that no one ship can produce such an impression upon the troops at Newport News as to cause them to evacuate the fort. The demoralization to our troops under similar circumstances has been produced by a concentration of fire from many ships at different points. no important advantages can be obtained by the Merrimac further than to demonstrate her power, which, as she is liable to be injured by a chance shot at this critical time, had better be reserved to defeat the enemy's serious efforts against Norfolk and James River.
I have the honor to request that this communication be laid before the President through the Secretary of War.
I have failed in my efforts to get the substance of the above through by telegraph.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
ADJT. AND INSP. General 'S OFFICE, Numbers 45. Richmond, February 25, 1862.
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XVIII. Major-General Magruder will so dispose of the forces under