was to know whether you could not make some arrangement with the Richmond defense troops under your command to hold the front lines near Deep Bottom, so that the brigades detached from this army to Chaffin's farm might be held in reserve, in order that they may be moved readily and rapidly to any part of our line which may be threatened. At this distance I cannot judge what should be the disposition of your troops, and wish to learn from you as soon as possible whether you can make the arrangements desired.
R. E. LEE,
NEW MARKET, July 9, 1864-6.45 a.m.
Lieutenant Colonel W. H. TAYLOR,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of Northern Virginia:
COLONEL: I received the communication of the general commanding of the 6th on the evening of the 7th, when on a visit with Colonel Carter to examine the lower James, with a view to erecting batteries. The crops in Curl's Neck are being consumed by our troops as fast as they can be hauled off, and there are still several thousand bushels of wheat and oats there under reach of the enemy's guns, and which is being removed at night. Colonel Carter and myself were of opinion that it was better to save these supplies than establish batteries in that vicinity, as the doing so, while it would make it impossible to bring out the forage, would be of but little inconvenience to the enemy. Colonel Carter has already placed some guns near Deep Bottom, which drove off a gun-boat of the enemy, bringing a monitor to take its place, but owing to distance and limited field of fire, could not stop the navigation. This could be done below at Pickett's and Haxall's, but, as stated above, would stop the wheat and oat cutting. Yesterday [8th] we visited Wilcox's Landing and vicinity, and found that there were positions which would block the river effectually as long as they could be held. The banks are high, can be approached without being seen, and the deep channel passes within from 200 to 300 [yards], there being another and more shallow one from 800 to 1,000 yards off. As this would interfere with the supplies of all of Grant's army, it is reasonable to suppose that one day's operations would limit the amount of time I would operate, with the resources at my disposal. Before operating at this place [Wilcox's] I thought it best to submit to the commanding general whether it would be possible to give such protection to the batteries as to force Grant to send a large force to destroy them, or whether Colonel Carter shall proceed to give such comparatively smaller injury as is in our power. I would also observe that the approach and departure of the enemy's vessels would be under our fire to the extreme range of our guns. Should the general commanding wish Colonel Carter to operate with the means at his disposal, using Gary's cavalry for a support, please telegraph me at Chaffin's Bluff to proceed at once, and there will be but little time lost.
R. S. EWELL,