MANASSAS, May 24, 1861.
General R. E. LEE
Five thousand troops entered Alexandria at 5 o'clock this morning. Our troops retreated in good order just ahead of the enemy. The bridges on the road burnt as far as Fairfax Station. The troops all here.
CULPEPER COURT-HOUSE, May 24, 1861.
Colonel F. H. SMITH:
SIR: Standing here at the wire I have this instant this reply from General Bonham, at Manassas: "Alexandria is taken. Colonel Terrett is here with his troops. Answer."
PHILIP ST. GEORGE COCKE.
COUNCIL CHAMBER, May 24, 1861
GENERAL: The telegraph operator here reports that information has been received by way of Lynchburg and Manassas Gap that the Federal troops took possession of Alexandria to-day, our troops withdrawing. Have you had your attention drawn to the importance of Keys' Gap, to guard against a movement by the Hampshire road in rear of the Ferry?
F. H. SMITH.
RICHMOND, May 24, 1861.
Honorable HENRY A. WISE,
Rolliston, near Norfolk, Va.:
DEAR SIR: I must beg your pardon for not sooner replying to your letter of the 3rd instant, and beg you to believe that though prevented by business constantly pressing on my attention, the subject has not been neglected. The importance of the subject and the difficulty of preparing defenses and means of resistance at the many threatened points in the State induced me to lay your letter before the Executive Council for their consideration. Since my arrival I have used every exertion to organize troops and prepare resistance against immediate invasino, which has appeared imminent, and as almost everyting had to be created except the guns found at the Gosport Navy-Yard, thee preparations have absorbed all the means I can command. We are still engaged in making gun carriages for the river defenses and field service, preparing ammuntion for all arms, constructing machines for the manufacture of caps, &c., ammunition wagons, &c., which must be continued. It seems to me, therefore, impossible a this time to prepare a marine battery. such as you describe, which would be effective in carrying out your design, as desirable as it would be. All the force and means at Norfolk are now employed in preapring defenses against a water and land approach. Could proper redoubts be erected at Willoughby's and Swell's Points, capable of standing a siege, and with an armament to command the adjacent waters, they would be of