In each battery there is one or more magazines. With few exceptions these are pits sunk under ground, covered, with timber and earth. These I found all very wet and most of them filled with water. These should be made dry by being bricked up or raised above the surface of the ground and drained.
Immediately around some of the works thick forests stand, which should be cut down.
Of cannon I found on the north side but eleven mounted in all the works, and dismounted, lying upon the ground without carriages, there were twelve more, in all within the batteries twenty-three, when the number required is one hundred and forty-three; and on the south or Manchester side I found two mounted (none upon the ground), when the number required is seventy-four.
I could not learn that any, either of guns or carriages, were ready; if they are not, they cannot be obtained and put in place in less time than three months if they are commenced at once.
Of the battalions along James River below the city I only know from report. To remove all fear from the enemy's gunboats, with their almost impenetrable sides and their heavy shells, I suggest that obstructions be gotten ready and floated down about 4 miles below the city, ready to be sunk on the signal of the approach of the enemy.
From what I have said above and especially from the small number of guns (twenty-five of the two hundred and eighteen required) that are ready mounted and dismounted (about two to the mile), I report that Richmond, as far as any reliance is to be placed upon these batteries, is in no state of defense against an enemy likely to approach. The danger from such attack from the north side of the river is greatly lessened by the positions of our armies on the Potomac and on the Peninsula, but I regard an attack from the south side imminent.
Burnside has obtained a permanent landing on the North Carolina coast, at which he is getting re-enforcements. With 15,000 or 20,000 men he can ascend the Roanoke, march to Petersburg, thence to Manchester, and from the commanding hills there shell this city without crossing the river. This he can do in ten days after he is ready.
If to meet this force the assistant of our armies on the Potomac and on the Peninsula are called upon, the answer will be from General Johnston and Magruder, "McClellan and Wool are threatening us (by concert with Burnside) and we spare no assistance."
If I am right, immediate action should be had toward completing the batteries now projected on the Manchester side and fully arming them.
Colonel Ordnance of Virginia.