army and naval forces will be difficult, may impossible, to resist. My information relative to the difficulties to be encountered is consistent, and, I think, trustworthy, and my officers and men are all in spirits, and full of energy to undertake their part of the service. An abandonment of the army position would have a great effect to destroy the animus of the whole fleet. The aid I could give General McClellan in a retrograde movement would be comparatively trifling, and I have no transportation to offer. The situation of the army is secure under any event. Its position now is strong; the several corps are again re-established, and all are in excellent spirits for the coming campaign and the investment and taking of Richmond. My information is that the enemy are concentrating their forces near and around Petersburg, and there has been a great withdrawal of troops from Richmond. I think the general impression among the rebels is that it is McClellan's intention to throw his force across the river, and while they are under this delusion the true movement may be made on Richmond along the north bank of the James River as soon as the communication by railroad is destroyed, which it is my intention to effect; and had I been furnished with the scout canoes, to enable me to reach them by the creeks, the bridges and railroads would have been ere this broken up and destroyed. I expressed to you my woful disappointment when I saw the character of the boats sent me. I shall say nothing further on this at present, but it will readily be seen on an inspection of the map how completely this would operate to prevent the enemy's forces from returning to support those in Richmond. A combined movement by General Pope with concentrated force and General McClellan at the same time would effect this much-desired object, I have no doubt, supported as the latter would be by the naval force under my command acting in harmonious co-operation.
Thus much for the onward progress. Now let me consider the retreat and abandonment of the position. In the first place an entire demoralization of the troops and their officers would take place. There is no transportation adequate to the move, and all the splendid equipage gathered at a vast expense would necessarily have to be destroyed to prevent falling into the hands of the enemy, and as soon as the rebels discovered this intention the whole rear guard of this army would be sacrificed, if not captured, and an entire disgrace fall upon the Union cause, and well it might be said this great cause had been deserted.
As to the time it would take is another consideration, and this could not be less than five or six weeks at the least if it were done by water, and the rebels, apprised of the moment, would rush to the banks of the James River and cause such annoyances that would make even that route very precarious, and a series of attacks on our part necessary to destroy their batteries, which would be fully equal to what is to be encountered toward Richmond. Another course is the only possible in my view, and that is a retreat by land. The Chickahominy and all its sad details of battle again fought over, and by the time the army reached its transports at Fort Monroe, or higher up, its morale, spirit, and energy would be entirely gone, and instead of being able to re-enforce other army in the field by the Rappahannock, it would have wasted itself away. Indeed, it would be a sad beacon for the country and its armies to mourn over, and to raise the hopes and strength of the rebels be the greatest blow that the Union cause has ever felt. I trust in God this direful act will not be carried out-our noble cause will be ruined if it is-and that we may be left here to wend our way to Richmond. General McClellan is confident as I am in the result-the capture of the