HEADQUARTERS, August 2, 1862.
GENERAL: I am glad to learn by your dispatch* that your attack upon the enemy's shipping was successful and that they were driven from their moorings. any positive damage inflicted upon their vessels, &c., was of course a positive gain to us. But this does not satisfy the object I had in view. My desire was for you to cut off their communication by the river, if practicable, or should this be impossible, to render it so insecure and precarious as to oblige General McClellan to abandon his position, or at least to prevent any advance or attack on his part. This will require continuous and systematic effort and a well-digested plan. To form the latter the river bank below Coggins Point should be examined, and the best modes off approach and retreat ascertained. The artillery officers and others that will have to operate can be used for this purpose, and the enemy's vessels should be driven from every position we can reach. If the site of old Fort Powhatan can be held, the passage of his transports will be arrested. If it cannot, there are points below and above that can be temporarily occupied, and by seizing several at the same and different times the enemy will be annoyed and harassed and will lose confidence and security in their position. I wish you would see what can be done in this way. A sufficient force of infantry, in my opinion, will be necessary for the guns, which could be at hand in covered spots to be used if required. Cavalry will also be required to give you information of the movements of the enemy.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
GENERAL D. H. HILL, Commanding, Dept. South of James River.
HEADQUARTERS, August 2, 1862.
GENERAL: I am pleased to learn by your letter of the 1 st* that two of the enemy's transports were burned in your attack of Thursday night and the rest driven off.
I had written to you this morning, giving my views and explaining the object desired.
I regret that you had no incendiary shells, and have directed Colonel Alexander to have some prepared for your 12-pounders, as they probably will be the largest caliber you can rely on for general service.
I will direct the revolving gun you desire to be sent you. I do not know whether we have any of the rockets you mention, but if there are they shall be sent, too.
I desire you to continue your attacks as long and as continuously as you can make them effective, and to use all the force in your department. the supporting force will be necessary, but if kept back or under cover from shells I think the risk would be small. But if you can accomplish the object any risk would be justifiable, for it would break up McClellan. I wish you, however, to exercise you good judgement as to the manner and mode of attack, and to take every precaution to spare your men.
The force could encamp near the scene of action. i do not at this distance see the necessity of its retiring to Petersburg. It would save men and horses.