left at Bethel, and Winston's regiment left at Harwood's Mill. The line of Warwick is being fortified rapidly by a large number of negroes.
The Virginia is expected out in a day or two. Her first object, it seems to me, ought to be certainly to prevent the passage of the enemy's transports and gunboats up James River, except the Ericsson [Monitor], which it is not expected she can prevent, as she draws very little water and can elude the Virginia.
I think the enemy may fear for Fort Monroe, but having such an immense force will endeavor to march up the Peninsula, and by aid of the Ericsson will endeavor to obtain Jamestown Island if he is continued to be opposed by a force so small as mine.
I presume McClellan cannot advance in consequence of the state of the roads and for other reasons. If it were possible, therefore, to throw 30,000 here from the army of the Manassas line, 20,000, making 30,000 in all with mine, with our knowledge of the country, we could crush the enemy, and perhaps with the assistance of the Virginia take Fort Monroe; and if Norfolk should fall into the hands of the enemy in the mean time, with the guns in our batteries spiked, which I do not think at all probable, we could retake it with the aid of the Virginia perhaps, and vanquish or at least expel Burnside.
Not knowing what has taken place elsewhere I do not know if this can be done, that is, whether troops can be withdrawn from other points, but I presume that it could be, at least for a short time, and I have little doubt that I could be able to throw troops across Back River down opposite Hampton, and thus cut off the enemy now around Newport News from that place; but 30,000 men is the least that this ought to be attempted with, leaving out the necessary garrisons, some 4,000 men. Such large re-enforcements having already arrived of horses and men at Old Point and Newport News, as well as supplies of hay and provisions the Virginia ought to first prevent the passage of a fleet of transports and gunboats up James River before she takes her place on the outside of Fort Monroe, as I recommended yesterday, and the sooner she is at her post at Sewell's Point the better, as the enemy may be ready now to send their vessels up James River, where she cannot follow them.
The present Secretary of War is so well acquainted with the localities here that I desire to have this letter laid before him.
I wrote the other day with respect to cavalry re-enforcements, the enemy having so large a preponderance in that arm. One of these companies is ready at Fredericksburg, being sent there to recruit. There are said to be some about Richmond, and Lieutenant-Colonel Goode wrote me of one large company already formed in a county the name of which I have already sent you [Buckingham County probably]. My letter will explain itself.
I beg leave to recommend the arming of cavalry with lances and shot-guns, if to be had. The former can be made by any carpenter and ordinary blacksmith in any neighborhood and rapidly and in any number, and in my opinion more efficient than the saber. Without the shot-guns they would be as powerful in a charge as with them. They could be held in reserve until wanted.
If heavy re-enforcements are to be sent here I would like to know at once, that I may throw up fortifications at points which, if we should not want them ourselves, it is extremely important that the enemy should not hold, such as from Langhorne's Mill to Bethel, and from Young's to Harwood's Mill, which are almost impregnable if held by a sufficient number of troops, but entirely untenable unless so manned.