therefore move up and down between Yorktown and Queen's Creek, and I trust you will be able to spare three gunboats to keep in sight of Yorktown.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
E. D. KEYES,
FORT MONROE, VA., April 11, 1863.
Admiral S. P. LEE, Newport News:
The following just received from General Peck, at Suffolk, 5.35 p. m.:
Enemy is flanking us in large force on both sides.
General Keyes directs me to ask you, Can you send gunboats to mouth or up the Nansemond?
D. T. VAN BUREN,
UNITED STATES FLAG-SHIP MINNESOTA,
Off Newport News, Va., April 11, 1863.
Major General E. D. KEYES, U. S. A.,
Commanding Department of Virginia, Fortress Monroe, Va.:
GENERAL: Yours of this date is received. With the force at my disposal I can only give partial support in James River to your outpost at Williamsburg by occupying that position instead of this, but this ship cannot go there.
As the two flag-of-truce boats arrived to-day from City Point do not report any rebel vessels in James River it is not probable that the enemy have crossed from the right to the left bank of the river at Jamestown Island.
I cannot assign the additional gunboat force you request for Yorktown, not having the means of doing so i n consequence of the number of vessels required to assist the army in its occupation of several positions in the Sounds of North Carolina.
If the enemy have the mans of crossing the nansemond and wish to do so in force, under cover of their artillery, the two small navy and the small army vessels called gunboats (which are frail little river or harbor steamers, mounting in all but a few pieces of fixed artillery) should not be considered enough to prevent it. The Nansemond is a mere creek above the Western Branch, and musketry alone can command the decks and drive from their guns the crews of these little crafts, which are liable to be disabled in their exposed boilers, &c., by a few discharges from small and scattered field pieces.
Last fall I called the attention of General Dix to the policy of leveling the earthworks in this vicinity. Referring to my conversation with you on this subject at Yorktown last fall and on board this ship the other day, I respectfully renew my suggestion that the contrabands and other force, if necessary, should be employed to raze these works without delay.
Permit me to draw your attention to the inclosed extract* from a report I made to the honorable the Secretary of the Navy on the 24th of October last, immediately after my visit to Yorktown, referring to the
*See p. 442.