SIR: I have the honor to inclose the above, being a true copy of Mr. Collins' letter addressed to Major Phillips.
The picket reported that twenty-four steamers came down the bay yesterday and proceeded to Old Point.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN W. PULLER,
Captain, Commanding Post.
Mr. Collins is perfectly reliable.
B. F. HUDGINS,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE PENINSULA, Yorktown, March 25, 1862.
Hon. GEORGE W. RANDOLPH,
Secretary of War, Richmond:
SIR: It is the unanimous opinion of twenty of the principal officers of my command, assembled together this evening for a council of war, that in view of the known forces of the enemy the best positions which can be assumed by this army are untenable without heavy re-enforcements-at least 10,000 immediately, and 10,000 more as soon as they can possibly be sent.
It is their further opinion that in falling back from the line of Yorktown and Mulberry Point we yield the best line for the defense of Richmond, and that if the Peninsula is lost Norfolk must necessarily fall, and the Virginia [Merrimac] must be captured unless she can pass the guns of Old Point, and the chances of fitting up gunboats on York River are given up. We lose the fine fortifications on this line, and destroy the confidence of our army in the safety of Richmond.
It is the opinion of the council that if the re-enforcements asked are promised by the Government to this army Yorktown should be held to the last, awaiting their arrival; but if re-enforcements are not to be sent, then Yorktown should be abandoned, with a view to save the garrison from certain capture after the enemy shall have penetrated our second line of defense [Warwick River line] and after the enemy shall have ascended the river with their iron-clad steamers and cut off communication by water.
If the Government considers it a military necessity to hold Yorktown under these circumstances it will be defended to the last extremity.
I have the honor to submit the above, and remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
P. S.-I give the result of the council of war in the language in which it was expressed and agreed to.
MARCH 26, 1862.
I concur fully in the opinion that the re-enforcements asked for are absolutely necessary for the successful defense of this Peninsula against