HEADQUARTERS RIGHT WING,
Fairfield, May 23, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of General Smith's communications of to-day, but after mine had been sent to him.
Before he designated where the regiments should be taken I had already ordered two from General Jones' command and two pieces of artillery with two regiments of cavalry to occupy and fight for Mechanicsville, which is a commanding position and where the railroad can best protected.
After hearing from General Smith I ordered another regiment from general McLaws to take post also at Mechanicsville, and carried out his instructions in other respects. I sent copies of his letters to Generals Jones and McLaws, as to details on the halt. I do not know where General Stuart is.
I have been at Meadow Bridge all the morning and gave the orders to the cavalry direct. General Stuart, however, stated to me early this morning that he intended to order his cavalry to occupy Mechanicsville.
The enemy is very quiet to-day, and his pickets are within three-quarters of a mile of Mechanicsville. Now I am satisfied he will attack that place in force, and that he has been making his preparations to-day. I therefore think he will overcome our small force, of say, 3,000 men, but I think that, if I am permitted to throw over now one-half of Mclaws command and the rest of Jones except a regiment and plenty of artillery to hold the crests at each place, we sill obtain a victory which may derange his plans.
If you agree with me and General Johnston sanctions let me know in half an hour.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. BANKHEAD MAGRUDER,
Major-General, Commanding Right Wing.
HEADQUARTER RIGHT WING,
Fairfield race-Course, May 23, 1863-9 p. m.
SIR: I have just received your note dated 7.30 p. m., May 23. I did propose a concentration of my force nearer the city yesterday on a narrower circle, and because the enemy was advancing, and could, if he pleased, outflank me, and might even occupy, if he were enterprising, our fortifications farther to my left, and because no force was thrown forward across the Chickahominy capable of opposing such advance.
I understood General Stuart to say this morning early that he had ordered the cavalry to reoccupy Mechanicsville. When I arrived at Meadow Bridge I found that all the cavalry were on this side of the Chickahominy except a few pickets; that General Stuart was not there, as far as I could learn in the neighborhood, and that Colonel Robertson had no orders.
Having received orders from you to place two regiments and a piece at or near Mechanicsville, as was done yesterday, I directed the two regiments to be taken from General Jones' command, to save time, and two pieces of artillery, as I had learned the enemy were in some force