Your suggestions to render the Danville road more efficient and secure shall receive full attention, and I have been concerting with the Quartermaster-General and General Kemper the best means at command to attain the desired ends. I fear, however, the reserve forces will prove an inadequate reliance for the defense of the railroad line, and that, however well they may be organized and commanded, some trained troops in addition will have to be spared to be spared for all the important points. i heard with some concern last evening that the gallant officer at Mattoax bridge did not think it possible, with his force, to defend that and the bridge on the Flat Creek likewise, and that the latter would have to be yielded, which would cause serious misfortune and interruption. If, through extraordinary exertions, these communications can be maintained for the next three weeks we shall afterward be not so absolutely dependent on them, for the wheat would, by due exertions enforced to thresh it, sustain us for some months. The sorest strait is just now, and you will excuse me for invoking your utmost attention and thought to the maintenance of our present communications.
Very truly, yours.
JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
June 24, 1864-9 p. m.
Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: Yesterday the enemy made a demonstration with infantry upon the Weldon railroad but before he had done much damage was driven back by General Mahone with a portion of his command. About 600 prisoners and 28 commissioned officers were taken, most of whom were captured by Perry's (Florida) brigade. This morning the enemy was felt on both flanks, and a part of one of General Hoke's brigades entered his works. Not being supported, they were unable to hold the position and retired with few casualties, but losing the advance line, which had succeeded in entering the enemy's entrenchments. A small number of prisoners was taken, but the enemy's loss is supposed to have been slight.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
Chaffin's Farm, June 24, 1864.
Captain MITCHELL, Commanding James River Squadron:
(Through Colonel Maury, who will please forward at once to Chaffin's Bluff.)
Major Smith, commanding Fort Dantzler, at Howlett's house, reports that last night a boat was seen about his battery, which he supposed to be one of the enemy's picket-boats carried across the neck at Dutch Gap and launched above. Was this one of our picket-boats? If not, I think it would be well to have some as low down the river as that point.
G. E. PICKETT,