War of the Rebellion: Serial 014 Page 0496 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN,VA. Chapter XXIII.

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to fall into the hands of the enemy which can be used by them, but destroy it if you cannot send it away.

I should be sorry for the people of Petersburg to think from these instructions that the Government has not intention of defending the town or that its capture is considered probable. On the contrary, we confidently expect to repel the invasion from the interior of the State, and are preparing for it by withdrawing troops from exposed point.

I had ordered an engineer to obstruct the Appomattox below Petersburg, and desire that you will assist him by furnishing labor or material or in any other way in your power.

Very respectfully,


Secretary of War.



Secretary of War:

SIR: When I left Williamsburg there was no fighting and the retrograde movement was proceeding without interruption by the enemy. To-day we hear the enemy came up with our troops and engaged them below Williamsburg, on the York [River] road. It is reported that we lost some 500 in killed and wounded, including among the latter Colonel Ward, of Florida. Their loss is much heavier, including some 900 prisoners and several batteries of artillery.

I have reliable information that the march to the rear has been suspended in order to confront the enemy, who press on us warmly, notwithstanding the repulse they have met with. It seems to me the condition of the army is critical, and as General Johnston has not, I believe, means of direct communication with Richmond, I have thought [it] of importance to give you this information, and to suggest that all the steamboats and other means of transportation at h and in Richmond, accompanied by all the armed vessels, may be sent without delay to Wilcox's Wharf, on James River, to be in readiness to transport the army across the river.

I learn from my signal officer, Captain Norris, just up from below, that there may be serious obstacles to the Virginia getting into York River. She should, therefore, by all means take or retain her position as a guard boat at the mouth of this river.

Without knowing what supplies General Johnston may be furnished with, I suggest that at least 20,000 rations of meat and corn meal be sent by the boats for the use of the army.

Without being able to perform any duty, I have thought it property to make these suggestions.


RICHMOND, May 6, 1862.

WILLIAM T. JOYNES, Petersburg:

The movements of troops and stores now going on are of that utmost importance. They have not been interrupted here in behalf of the owners of private property, and I do not feel authorized to interrupt them in Petersburg.


Secretary of War.