War of the Rebellion: Serial 014 Page 0477 Chapter XXIII. CORRESPONDENCE,ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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the event of the necessity contemplated will point out the proper course to be pursued, and I feel every assurance that it will be pursued with discretion, judgment, and energy. It will be necessary for you to see the means of transportation, routes,&c. Being disembarrassed of surplus stores and other articles, the troops can be withdrawn in the presence of the enemy with order and celerity. The safety of all ammunition must require your particular attention. Whatever arrangements you find it necessary to make will of course be preparatory and be done quietly.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,


HEADQUARTERS, Lee's House, April 30, 1862.

General R. E. LEE:

GENERAL: We are engaged in a species of warfare at which we can never win.

It is plain that General McClellan will adhere to the system adopted by him last summer, and depend for success upon artillery and engineering. We can compete with him in neither.

We must therefore change our course, take the offensive, collect all the troops we have in the East and cross the Potomac with them, while Beauregard, with all we have in the West, invades Ohio.

Our troops have always wished for the offensive, and so does the country. Please submit this suggestion to the President. We can have no success while McClellan is allowed, as he is by our defensive, to choose his mode of warfare.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,



NORFOLK, VA., April 30, 1862.


Commanding Military District:

GENERAL: I had the honor to receive your letter of the 28th instant as the Virginia was on the point of dropping down to Hampton Roads, and deferred the movement until I could consult competent pilots and others as to the feasibility of running the Virginia by the forts and to the position occupied by the enemy's fleet at the mouth of the Poquosin River.

I inclose you a copy of the opinion of the two pilots of the ship, which, condensed, is that on a day clear enough for the land to be seen there would be no difficulty in reaching York River, but that at night it could not be undertaken with a reasonable prospect of success. This would of course oblige me to pass the forts by light; after which I should have to contend with the squadron of men-of-war below the forts, which is large, and includes the Minnesota, the iron-clad steamers Monitor, Naugatuck, and Galena, and the powerful steamer Vanderbilt, fitted with a ram expressly to attack the Virginia.

Should I pass the forts and ships at night the latter (their steam is always up) would follow me, and those of lighter draught them 16 feet, taking a shorter route, would reach the Poquosin long before me, while