at this time I see no immediate prospect. The pressure of affairs in North Carolina renders it necessary to send there all available forces, even at the risk of hazarding the safety of other points, inasmuch as if the line of railroad through the State is possessed by the enemy it will cause us serious injury.
The object of sending a portion of your command to Suffolk was to prevent the seizure of that point by the combined forces of Generals Wool and Burnside. The latter is now at New Berne, but can easily transfer his troops back to Albemarle Sound, and, unless a change in the supposed original plan of the enemy is more apparent, I think it unnecessary to cross your troops back to the left bank of James River yet awhile. I hardly think he will risk an attack upon you unsupported by his columns in other directions. I know, however, you will be vigilant in watching his movements, and should you ascertain that to be his intention, your troops will be immediately ordered back by the route you designate.
The Quartermaster-General will be informed that the artillery horses you require have not reached you, and be desired to send them as soon as possible. I had hoped that you had sufficient cavalry for your purposes. I have no knowledge of the service on which the companies named by you are placed, but will inquire.
As regards the militia, it is the object of the State to fill up from those enrolled by volunteer or draft its companies and regiments.
The disorganization of the regiments, &c., from the cause you mention is apparent, and some days ago the Military Committee of Congress were appealed to draft a bill to accomplish what you desire. It is hoped some measure of relief will be passed.
I am, &c.,
R. E. LEE,
HDQRS. ARMY OF THE PENINSULA, Numbers 161.
Yorktown, Va., March 17, 1862.
In going into battle commanding officers of companies will call the roll of their companies and in coming out of action the rolls will be called. Any member of the company absent at the latter roll call, unless killed or wounded, will be considered as having been derelict to the highest duty, and will be punished accordingly. The excuse sometimes given that men have left the field to carry off the wounded is inadmissible, as no man will be permitted to leave the ranks for such purpose, but when men are killed or wounded in the ranks their places will be filled by their comrades touching elbows toward the guide.
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By command of Major-General Magruder: