HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE.
August 3, 1862-12 midnight.
GENERAL: Have just returned, and hasten to inclose accompanying papers, as requested by Major Mills.
I got to Ray's [Rhea's] Bluff about 5 p.m. and found there a 4-gun gunboat ashore, as near as, maybe, 4,000 feet off from hill-sides.
As I reached the point two inferior 6-pounders from Captain Ruffin's battery arrived. I put them in position and caused fire to be opened. The guns were not equal to the occasion, but did some injury to the vessel. I saw with my glasses where three balls took effect. The gun-boat replied, killing one horse and wounding another in the battery. In the mean while a couple of tugs and another gunboat came to her assistance and she got off the bottom.
I left these two pieces about 1 mile in rear, where I met the battery which I had ordered down from your division, with directions to the two to return to river banks and reopen fire upon this or any other gunboat in the morning, should an available opportunity present.
All this has been done in pursuance of what I understand to be the spirit of General Hill's instructions to you, and not that I would wish to be understood as inaugurating on my own account the policy of attacking gunboats with ordinary field pieces.
I am, general, very respectfully,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA.
August 4, 1862
Major General D. H. HILL.
Commanding Department of North Carolina:
GENERAL: It is reported that the enemy are seizing wood on the banks of the James and Appomattox Rivers. Please cause all the wood in the wood-yards accessible to their boats to be burned where it is possible to do so, unless it can be removed and appropriated to the benefit of its owners or our Army.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant.
R. E. LEE.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA.
August 4, 1862.
Colonel L. B. NORTHROP.
Chief Commissary, C. S. Army:
COLONEL: While I recognize the necessity of enlarging your force in order to accomplish the object mentioned in my letter* of the 30th ultimo, I must beg you to do this, if possible, without reducing the rank and file of the army. A large number of the best soldiers in the Army have been discharged under the conscript act in the last few weeks, and these discharges are made daily. It may be possible to