Washington City, D. C., January 30, 1863-5.45 p. m.
Major-General DIX, Fort Monroe, Va.:
What iron-clads, if any, have gone out of Hampton Roads within the last two days?*
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
February 2, 1863.
General D. BUTTERFIELD, Chief of Staff:
SIR: I have the honor to submit some considerations on the defense of Aquia Creek Landing. That defense might be necessary in two cases. First, in case of embarkation with our rear guard strongly pressed by the enemy; second, in case of an advance from it as a base, to resist raids. The first case is the one which would require the strongest resistance, as the last 6,000 or 8,000 men might be pressed by a superior force, and their embarkation, with the hill overlooking Aquia Creek occupied by the enemy's artillery, rendered very difficult. This difficulty can be overcome by occupying a defensive line running from the point where Accokeek Creek becomes impassable nearly north to Aquia Creek. This line would still leave a hill near the Watson house outside of it, from which Aquia Creek Landing could be seen by the enemy's artillery. That hill should be occupied by a small redoubt for 100 men and no guns. The line in question should consist of a slashing, with short portions of breast-works of logs ans earth at points where they would see the slashing well, and three small redoubts. The langest of these redoubts would be on the road from Aquia Landing to Stafford Court-House, about a mile from the landing, and should cover six guns. The other two should be between this and the railroad and should each cover about six guns. The line would be about a mile and a half in length and should be held by 3,000 men against a strong attack. No reference has been made to the point of land on the north side of Aquia Creek and between it and the Potomac, as it is believed that the gunboats control this. The redoubts will require about ten days for their construction; the other work could be done in four. To finish the work rapidly there should be a working party of 1,500 men, the party not to be changed during the work. Second. In case of advance from Aquia Creek as a base, it and all vulnerable points on the railroad will be liable to raids. Such raids would not probably be made by a force drawn and not more than 1,000 men left at Aquia Creek Landing, two of the redoubts referred to would be needed, one on the Stafford Court-House road and one near the railroad. But it is believed that a brigade, with the gun-boats, need no additional strength against any probable raid. At Potomac Creek bridge and Accokeek Creek bridge, however, redoubts should be built, each capable of holding 250 men and two guns. The construction of each of these redoubts would require 400 men for ten days.
C. B. COMSTOCK,
Lieutenant of Engineers and Chief Engineer Army of the Potomac.
* For reply, see VOL. XVIII, p. 530.