A full report of the strength and condition of each regiment and detachment of cavalry will be immediately forwarded to these headquarters through the chief of cavalry.
By command of Major-General McClellan:
HEADQUARTERS FORT MONROE,
March 25, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON:
Nothing of importance has occurred since yesterday. Brigadier-General Smith's division has arrived. The rebels increasing their force in and around Norfolk. It cannot be less than 20,000.
JOHN E. WOOL,
HEADQUARTERS PORTER'S DIVISION,
Camp on Southwest Branch Back River, Va., March 25, 1862.
Brigadier General S. P. HEINTZELMAN,
Commanding Third Army Corps:
GENERAL: I did not, as I designed on moving here, post any pickets on the roads upon opposite bank leading toward Big Bethel. I intended to scour the woods with skirmishers, but fearing it might indicate a contemplated movement in that direction I countermanded the order. The river is picketed from the upper to the lower bridge: I do not, however, consider it sufficient, and shall, if not otherwise directed, post a few men to give warning of the advance of an enemy. I am too far distant to be injured by infantry, and trust my artillery will be able to prevent the same arm acting on the other side.
I understand it to be the wish of the major-general commanding that no reconnaissance except in strong force shall be made to the front.
At present I cannot cross the creek with artillery or horse, owing to the want of covering for the bridge, which was asked for to-day.
A report has just reached me that some drummer-boys of the Thirty-eighth New York on a pillaging expedition on the opposite bank were captured by the enemy to-day, and that a company was sent in pursuit. I know not of its foundation, but will trace it and inform you if such be the case.
There has been much straggling from the troops in rear, and before I arrived here houses on the opposite side were ransacked. I have directed that if any one refuses to return on attempting to cross the sentinel shall shoot. Owing to deficiency of transportation I have not yet been able to get up my command.
If you have a cipher I will be much obliged if you will permit me to copy you in the morning about 10 o'clock.
F. H. PORTER,
ALEXANDRIA, March 25, 1862-12.15 p. m.
Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
Steamers do not return from Monroe as they should. Have only means to embark one brigade of Couch's division to-day. I have two