War of the Rebellion: Serial 014 Page 0682 THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN, VA. Chapter XXIII.

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General Lee; no other copy kept." The first paragraph or two may not exactly correspond with the letter forwarded to General Lee. The letter is, however, substantially the same.*

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



[Indorsement Numbers 1.]

Respectfully referred to the President. Is this the letter to General Lee referred to by the President?


Secretary of War.

[Indorsement Numbers 2.]

The substance seems to be that which I recollect to have received. The letter does not seem to me to be identical.

J. D.




April 29, 1862

General R. E. LEE,

Commanding, &c.:

GENERAL: I yesterday received a letter from General J. E. Johnston informing me the enemy seems preparing to attack Yorktown with a powerful artillery, and we may be compelled to abandon the Peninsula. He desires me to be prepared for such a contingency.

For a week past the enemy has kept a brigade afloat near Elizabeth City, which can move to any point on Chowan River. This force landed on the night of the 18th instant and marched on South Mills, where they were met by the Third Regiment Georgia Volunteers and four pieces of artillery and repulsed with great loss. They have been re-enforced during the week and are now afloat to the south of me. If the enemy gets possession of the James River, and can have a moving force on it to land where he pleases, I do not see how I am to prevent him from landing, and if they get possession of the country west of this place, through which the railroads pass, as well as the waters on the other three sides, any escape from here is very doubtful.

It would not do to give up any part of this position, as they would at once occupy it, and I cannot begin to move the public property. The guns scattered at the different batteries could not be moved with our means in weeks, and where move them to? The ammunition could be destroyed when not wanted. As to the valuable establishment of the navy-yard, which has more public property than the rest of the country, it is not under my control, and others must determine concerning it.

I do not see what preparations I can make for the contingency, but to repel every attack as promptly as possible and defend the position as long as I can. When they have the waters on both sides of me, you can calculate how long I can hold out as well as I can.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,




*For the letters to Johnston and Lee of April 29, see p. 474.