secure. Is this object of sufficient importance to warrant the cost and the hazard of maintaining the position? The connection is convenient during the months of December, January, February, and March, when the communication by sea is liable to interruption by storms; but during the other eight months it is of little importance. We only use it for dispatches, a semi-weekly mail, and for the transportation of officers, and occasionally a few men. They may as well go outside. It does not follow that we shall lose this connection by withdrawing from Suffolk, but we shall make it less secure. Suffolk is strong with a large force, and very weak with a small one. In the face of an enemy it is impossible to fall back on Norfolk. It must be held at all hazards. We have over one hundred guns there. Its capture would be the greatest disaster of the war. It has a very narrow river running back 7 miles to the rear, always endangering the loss of our communication with our supplies. The enemy can approach it rapidly by two railroads. It can never be safely left without 15,000 men, and if invested by a large force it must have 25,000.
The line of Deep Creek is 8 miles from Norfolk. It is a better line in all respects. The communication with the rear cannot well be cut. It will always be possible, even in the face of an enemy, to fall back on Norfolk. It can be defended by 10,000 men. There is but one objection to the change--the moral effect. We fall back 12 miles; but on the other hand we advance 40 on the York River and place ourselves at West Point, within 35 miles of Richmond. By occupying the line of Deep Creek we should save from 10,000 to 15,000 troops, and the transportation of supplies up the Nansemond, and gain a more secure position. The change can be made now while the great body of the enemy is away. It will be impossible when he returns. If the charge should be approved, I should place General Peck in command of the new line and make him Military Governor of Norfolk, where his vigilance and promptitude would be of great advantage, sending General Viele into the field. I should also take up the rails on both roads between Suffolk and Deep Creek and deprive the enemy of the power of using them either for roads or for constructing iron batteries.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN A. DIX,
MAY 14, 1863.
Respectfully referred to General Totten, Chief Engineer, General Barnard, and General Cullum for the expression of their views in regard to General Dix's general plan.
H. W. HALLECK,
WASHINGTON, D. C., May 14, 1863.
We concur in the general views of General Dix respecting the abandonment of Suffolk, Va., the determination of the strength and direction of the new line of defense at Deep Creek being left to General Dix and his engineers.
J. G. TOTTEN,
Brigadier-General, Chief of Engineers.
J. G. BARNARD,
GEO. W. CULLUM,
Lieutenant-Colonel Engineers and Brigadier-General.