partisans from the citizens not subject to enrollment. There is much manifestation of a determination that the ancient and honored capital of Virginia, now the seat of the Confederate Government, shall not fall in to the hands of the enemy. Many say rather let it be a heap of rubbish.
To you it is needless to say that the defense must be made outside of the city. the question is, where and how? If the enemy proceed as heretofore indicated, your position and policy, as you stated it in our last interview, seems to me to require no modification; but if, as reported here, he should change direction, and leaving his boats on the Pamunkey, should cross the Peninsula to join those on the James River, the opportunity desired by you to meet him on the land will then be afforded. His boats can ascend some distance up the Chickahominy, and he will probably move to a point on that stream to effect a junction there. This diminishes the space within which his march will be exposed to your attack, unless he should cross the Chickahominy, which we can hardly hope.
There are disadvantages to you in operations below the stream, but if you must choose between that plan and one which gives the enemy the co-operation of his river transports and gunboats, it would seem that the balance would be on the side of the former.
As on all former occasions, my design is to suggest, not to direct, recognizing the impossibility of any one to decide in advance; and reposing confidently as well on your ability as your zeal, it is my wish to leave you with the fullest powers to exercise your judgment.
Colonel Lee will communicate freely with you and bear to me any information and reply which you may intrust to him.
Very respectfully and truly, yours,
Richmond, Va., May 17, 1862.
Major General B. HUGER,
Commanding, &c., Petersburg, Va.:
GENERAL: Your letters of the 16th instant have been received.* The plan of your operations will be for the defense of the Petersburg and Wilmington Railroad, having in view at the same time the right bank of James River. With these objects in view you will exercise your own judgment and discretion. It will be necessary for you to thoroughly acquaint yourself with the nature of the country, &c., on your line of operations. It is evidently the intention of the enemy to concentrate his forces on the James River and operate in conjunction with the gunboats along the line of the river. You will watch closely his movements on your side of the river, and oppose him to the utmost of your ability whenever an opportunity occurs. When you are unable to hold him in check you will withdraw your forces, keeping them out of danger of being cut off from your main body. Should you be forced to do so, you will fall back with your whole force to the battery and obstructions at Drewry's Bluff, on James River. It is thought that you can annoy the enemy greatly with sharpshooters and light artillery as he advances up the river, and may possibly stop his transports.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,