HEADQUARTERS RICHMOND DEFENSES,
August 11, 1863.
Major T. O. CHESTNEY,
SIR: I desire to make the following statements and suggestions for the consideration of the general commanding:
About a week ago I mentioned to him that the batteries of the inner line were by no means in the coundition I should like to have them, and urged urged upon him the necessity of making an effort to obtain negro labor. he expressed some supprise, but he will see that ther really was no room for it. During the absence of the commander at Gordonsville, some representation were made as to the unpreparedness of these works, which I think were not justified by the facts. I said then and I say now that the works were in fighting condition, with the exception of one, whose ammunition was near at had, if the officer sent there had only known it, and then, as now, every gun which was mounted could have been fought.
However, so great a stir was made that I determined to overhaul all the works, and received orders from you so to do. The work was commenced at once, and has been steadily going on. From twelve to fifteen barbettes for light guns have been designated for each battery, and many of them are completed; but in making these changes it was found that in most of the work, portions of the plank revetment was rotting, so that the work to be done was quite extensive, and after two monts' labor I find that much remains unfinished.
Moreover, upon consultation with Colonel W. H. Stevens, Engineers, it was concluded that the gorges of all these batteries should be closed with rifle-pits, and that a military road should be made conveniently connecting the parts of the whole line. This involves a good deal of labor, and can only be accomplished by the employment of negroes. This I respectfully urge upon the general commanding. Last winter Colonel Stevens employed constantly some 3,000 or 4,000 negroes, but not an hour's work was done on these batteries by them. Indeed, they were sent back to their masters before the intermadiate line was completed, and at present all the labor Colonel Stevens can possibly get is very properly at once puy on that line as the most important.
At Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, and 10, the work is in good progress, and Numbers 5 will a wek show a great improvement, but Nos. 6 and 7 are very backward, due especially to the fact that they are large works, and the companies which occupy them are week. At present these companies are absent, and I would take occasion respectfully to ask that they be returned to their post as soon as possible.
General Hood's division I learn has been moved to Fredericksburg, thus I presume relieving Cooke's brigade, which in its turn I trust may relieve the Eighteenth and twentieth battalions, now at the bridges on the South Anna.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. S. RHETT.
Colonel, Commanding Richmond Defenses.
ADJT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 109.
Richmond, August 11, 1863.
I. A general pardon is give to all officers and men witin the Confederacy, now absent without leave from the army, who shall,
41 R R-VOL XXIX< PT II