War of the Rebellion: Serial 088 Page 1176 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.

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ganizations, said to be forming in Alabama, be at once visited, and in case deserters from this or any other army be found in them, the authority to raise them be revoked, and the officers and men placed in the regular service. I have before pointed out the evil consequences resulting, in my opinion, from granting authority to raise new companies, &c.; but, if it must be done, I advise that in all cases the presence of any absentee from another command in one of new ones, whether the officer commanding was aware that the man had no right to enlist with him or not, be held a sufficient reason for revoking the authorization and breaking up the new organization. I see no other way of arresting the evil, and causing those engaged in recruiting new commands to take sufficient precautions against receiving deserters.

With great respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,



August 14, 1864.

Lieutenant-General EWELL,


GENERAL: On my visit to Howlett's house yesterday I had a full view of the ground at Dutch Gap and could see distinctly their tents and lines of intrenchments in front and rear of their position, with rifle-pits in advance. The men were concealed from view, probably driven under cover by our fire, which, from the gun-boats, was very accurate. No working parties were, of course, in sight, but I could see nothing to indicate the construction of a canal as is reported by prisoners and deserters from the enemy. Colonel Mayo, Third Virginia Regiment, who is stationed on the point at Howlett's farm, says that owing to the height of the bluffs at Dutch Gap and their being thickly covered with tall trees it is impossible to get a view of their operations from the highest point on his side. Small parties of the enemy, however, could be seen moving along the bank yesterday, and did not seem much embarrassed by the fire of our batteries or gun-boats. Officer commanding pickets of the margin of the river reported the enemy at work all night before last. Wagons were heard going and coming, unloading plank; also sounds of digging, driving stakes, &c. The details at work are estimated to be about 600 men. Can you not from some point on your side of the river discover what the enemy is doing? If we cannot arrest his work we must in other ways counteract his operations. Perhaps the navy might accomplish both objects. I desire you to see Captain Mitchell and see what can be done.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. LEE,



August 14, 1864-9.15 a. m.

General C. W. FIELD,

Chaffin's Bluff:

What is the character of the force advancing against your left? Concentrate the cavalry in that quarter and dispose your infantry to resist it.

R. E. LEE.