At the present season there is no crossing the Blackwater with facility between Blackwater Bridge (a very uncertain one) and Wall's Bridge, some 20 miles up. I would therefore suggest that instead of increasing the force at Ivor you place a brigade near Wakefield, when, by crossing at Birch Island Bridge and taking by Cypress Creek, they cover between the Blackwater and James Rivers by a short line and give us time to concentrate and cut off any small force or to attack in flank and rear any large one moving from Suffolk. After passing by Proctor's Bridge an enemy would not cross the Blackwater in moving upon Petersburg, as the river trends westward toward Petersburg.
I would like to move forward the cavalry picket now along Cypress Creek and make a line across from Broadwater or Proctor's Bridge to the head of Pagan Creek, which runs by Smithfield to the James and is impassable. I would have some 14 miles of open country to picket and far enough in advance to get information to a force at Wakefield, near Birch Island Bridge, and to get my command ready to attack the flank. I think it important to have a force to check any movement in that direction, as the river is difficult of crossing at this season. I think that the picket line across to Pagan Creek would answer much better than the one at Cypress Creek, as the latter is so much to my rear. I hope you may be able to come down, as I think you will be able to give me many points, and I think you will like the line of defense I have marked out and suggested above.
I am, general, very respectfully, yours,
P. S. - Do you get Northern papers regularly?
PETERSBURG, VA., March 29, 1863.
General W. H. C. WHITING,
Wilmington, N. C.:
Have Ransom's brigade, including his battery, at Goldsborough.
HEADQUARTERS, March 29, 1863.
Major General D. H. HILL, Commanding & c.:
GENERAL: Your dispatches of the 21st are received. We have a report that 1,000 infantry have passed down to Edenton. It is probably the force that is strengthening Plymouth. I wish you would send a regiment of cavalry into Bertie if you have not already done so. General Ransom was placed at your disposal some time ago, and I believe that he is now at Goldsborough. As it is possible that he may not be, I will telegraph General Whiting to send him at once. I shall send Major Sorrel out to join Colonel Gibbs with special instructions. I think that I can cut off any move against Weldon by a force from Franklin. I send Colonel Alexander down to examine into our ordnance arrangements, ammunition particularly.
I remain, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,