the future movements of the enemy, it is impossible to divine which plan of attack he will adopt. I presume, however, he will avail himself of the river as far up as possible. He may come beyond City Point; he may go to Port Walthall. It would appear advisable, there fore, that you keep your command light and movable, so as to move with celerity to any point he may select. The river should be well picketed by trusty men, to keep you advised of any movement up the river by the boats and transports of the enemy. I think the Black water too far removed for you to keep a force stationed there; it would be in constant danger of being cut off and too remote to be relieved.
I expect the reports in Colonel Tomlin's letter are much exaggerated. They cannot have the tremendous force which they are represented to have everywhere. If they are in such strength along the Norfolk road they cannot come in the same strength up the river. Any considerable force that may advance from Norfolk must diminish the army on the Peninsula. This McClellan is not likely to do, for he is even now calling for re-enforcements.
In retiring along the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad it should be so destroyed as to prevent its use by the enemy. So far as I can learn the road is almost intact. The stone piers of the bridges should be destroyed as well as the bridges themselves. If you find that the enemy is coming up the river, it may be necessary for you to retire in this direction, so as to take a part in the contest which must take lace near Richmond. It is advisable that you make all arrangements in view of this contingency.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
Richmond, Va., May 16, 1862.
General JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON,
GENERAL: I have received your letter of 15th instant.* The letter to General Huger which you forwarded through me has never been received. As I informed you on yesterday, he had been previously directed to send a brigade to the vicinity of the batteries and obstructions on the south side of the river. Colonel Stuart, with the Fifty-sixth Virginia Regiment, also a battery of light artillery and the 30-pounder rifled gun (served by Captain Dabney's company), is on this side.
I inclose you General Mahone's report of the engagement yesterday with enemy's boats.+ General Huger wrote me yesterday that he expected Blanchard's Armistead's brigades in Petersburg last evening. There is no force in this city, as you seem to infer from my letter on the subject of subsistence.
I have requested that Major Blair, acting commissary of subsistence, be reassigned to duty with you army.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
+Not found. See Series I, Vol. XI, Part I, p. 636.