General Gordon, the withdrawal of our troops from that position, unless he can have 4,000 more infantry, 28 guns in addition to those already there, and a pontoon bridge 1,200 yards long. The recommendation is founded on the altered state of things since the occupation took place: First, the retreat of General Hooker; second, the very recent concentration of troops in the vicinity of Richmond from the Blackwater and North Carolina line; third, the probability of an attack in force at an early day, as I am advised by General Gordon by telegraph since General Ord left; and, the apprehension that our communication with the supplies will be interrupted by their erection of heavy batteries on the York, the enemy having already with his light guns fired with some effect on our mail-boat, so as to render an armed convoy necessary for our transports. In the uncertainty as to General Hooker's movements I have through proper to communicate with your at once. I have discharged three regiments. More are soon to follow, and from appearances I suppose I cannot hope the have their places supplied. In that case my force will soon be reduced below the minimum necessary for my extended command. Averse as I am to any retrograde movement, I should be disposed to concur with my three general officers, unless from your more extended view of the whole ground you can afford me a hope of being strengthened either by fresh troops or by early movements in Virginia, which will keep the enemy fully occupied.
JOHN A. DIX,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA, SEVENTH ARMY CORPS,
Fort Monroe, Va., May 26, 1863.
Major General E. D. KEYES,
GENERAL: I have until to-day been prevented by urgent engagements from replying to Colonel West's letter to your assistant adjutant-general, of the 14th instant, with your indorsement of the 15th.
The colonel refers to the meritorious conduct of the troops at Williamsburg and Fort Magruder, when assailed by a superior force under General Wise, and regards my omission to speak of them in my order concerning the recent investment of Suffolk as forcing "the unpleasant conclusion that there was something left undone which should have been done."
In your indorsement you say you "regard Colonel West's complaint as just," with an intimation that I have been guilty of "partiality."
I regret very much that Colonel West should have drawn from my omission to refer to his command in the order alluded to the inference that he and his troops had not done all that brave and devoted men could do, and he will see from a statement of facts that there is no ground for such an inference.
The operations at Suffolk, after the third day of the investment of three weeks, were carried on under my own observation, as I was every alternate day either there or on the Nansemond.
On the other hand the operations at Williamsburg and its vicinity commenced and ended during my absence and while you were in command of the department. This fact would, however, have made no difference with me if the meritorious services of the troops had been properly represented to me by a report from you or from Colonel West. But no such representation has ever been made to me. Nothing was