and a battery erected for its protection, if you thought advisable and if it you intention to hold Fredericksburg. If you will indicate your wishes I will direct the chief engineer to commence the obstructions and batteries at the point you may select. From the "notes of the reconnaissance" I should judge the point now being defended above Spotswood Bar is not the best position, as it is commanded by the bluff on the opposite side of the river and by ground in its front. The subject is now referred for your opinion and action.
I am, &c.,
R. E. LEE,
ENGINEER BUREAU, Richmond, March 18, 1862.
General R. E. LEE,
C. S. Army, Richmond:
GENERAL: Inclosed I send you a report on the defenses of the Rappahannock by Messrs. I. M. St. John and Richard Morton and Lieutenant Conway R. Howard, of the Provisional Engineer Corps.* The accompanying notes* were made by the two former gentlemen, who were selected for their especial fitness for intelligent reconnaissance, both having had military experience since the commencement of the war and both being experience and able civil engineers. Lieutenant Howard was not with them on the reconnaissance, but his local knowledge entitles his views to consideration from having been stationed at Fort lowry for some month past.
I concur most fully in the substance of this report, to which, however, I will add a few remarks.
I unhesitatingly recommend the abandonment of Fort Lowry, not only because it is on a mere spit of sand, liable to be overflowed at any moment, and therefore requiring great labor to place it in a proper state of defense,but because it is exposed to attacks from most formidable armaments, as vessels drawing from 18 to 20 feet, and even more, at a distance for a mile can attack it in large numbers.
Just below Rappahannock is a bar with only 13 feet water, while just above there is another with only 9 feet at high water with a difficult channel for navigation. The position commanding this bar, about one-half mile above the town, is elevated about 15 feet, and obstructions can be easily placed in the river. The principal objection to the site is its low command, and the fact that it will have to contend with vessels drawing from 12 to 13 feet of water.
The river at Layton's, although 30 feet deep, is narrow, with a flat marsh on the opposite side, and can be easily obstructed by cribs filled with stone and piling, on menthols and principles similar to those now being employed on James River. it should be prominently mentioned here that a fort at this point would only have to contend with vessels drawing 9 feet water.
The level of this bluff is maintained for rather over a mile in the rear, when the ground rises to a higher level, where it would probably be necessary to throw up a covering work.
En resume, Mount Taliaferro would seem to be the point of greatest importance, and Layton's next. The forces at Fort Lowry could be moved up at once, and thus protect, I understand, an extensive and