Hill, which opened the correspondence of which you will find copies inclosed.*
I had never fairly comprehended your views and purposes until the receipt of your letter of yesterday, and now have to regret that I did not earlier know all that you had communicated to others. I could hardly have misunderstood you, and need not say would have been glad to second your wishes, confiding, as I always do, as well in your judgment as in your information.
The reports in relation to the enemy at West Point are not, I fear, quite reliable; but int he uncertainty of the case, it had appeared to me that it might be well to bring up a brigade of General Hill's force and place it on the south side of James River, sufficiently near to the pontoon bridge to be used in any operations which a movement of the enemy on the north side might require. The recommendation of General Hill in relation to Ransom's brigade, though not quite the same, may answer the purpose, and I have confidence in the cordiality and alacrity with which Ransom would meet such requirement. General Hill having mentioned Cooke's brigade as one which he is disposed to exchange, it seemed best to order it up, and rely upon his supplying its place, at least partially, by the organization of the various guards and the battalion at Salisbury, which he had asked for authority to embody in his army. To complete Heth's division without creating complaint on the part of North Carolinians, it seemed to me desirable that there should be but one North Carolina brigade in it. To observe that condition we had to choose between Jenkins' South Carolina brigade and Davis' of Mississippi. As Jenkins had been commanding on the Blackwater, and was supposed to be acquainted with the country, and Davis was temporarily absent, it was thought for that and minor reasons better to detach Davis' brigade. If General Hill's force should prove inadequate, as the season advances we should be able to draw further from the troops in South Carolina and Georgia. Mr. Sedon, however, thinks nothing more is to be obtained there. You will perceive that no destination is given by the Adjutant-General to the brigades drawn from General Hill. Please send your orders to this place, so that the troops may be moved in conformity to your wishes.
By the proposed arrangement you will have lost, without receiving anything in exchange, the brigade of Evans, as, being able to get no trace of the troops for which Jenkins' brigade was reported to have been exchanged, I can only wonder as to what constituted the command on the Blackwater before the troops from Western Virginia went thee. From the account which General hill gave of a part of his cavalry, I do not think you would be benefitted by receiving that which he proposes to send you. He asked for and received conditional authority to dismount a portion of that force.
I not your request to be relieved of the command of the troops between the James River and the Cape Fear. This is one of the few instances in which I have found my thoughts running in the opposite direction from your own. It has several times occurred to me that it would be better for you to control all the operations of the Atlantic slope, and I must ask you to reconsider the matter. I wish I knew how to relieve you from all anxiety concerning movements on the York or James River against Richmond while you are moving toward the north and west; but even if you could spare troops for the purpose, on whom could you devolve the command with that feeling of security which would be