great advantage. Ineffectual batteries would provoke useless conflict and expose to the risk of capture the heavy guns therein placed. This has, in a measure, been recently exemplified. Those points are so exposed, and so distant from Norfolk, that a large force would be required to protect the battereis there erected. The communication with these batteries would have to be around the head of Tanner's Creek, as the bridges across that stream must be destroyed, which would draw a greater force than we could now spare from the immediate defenses of Norfolk and Gosport. These points can be approached in so many ways, from Lynnhaven, Willoughby, and Sewell Bays, Elizabeth River, Nansemond River, by way of Suffolk, &c., that unless covered by a very large force, our lines must be contracted.
The officers who examined the subject thought it unadvisable to expose large guns at the present itme southof Tanner's Creek, but to rely upon field batteries and movable columns to retard and resist a landing on that neck, and to rely upon the defenses behind that creek, both by land and wtaer, to arrest invasion. Aline of redoubts is about being constructed from Tanner's to Taylor's Creeks to close ththw after batteries south of the Tanner's Creek, on the right bank of the Elizabeth River, strengthened. Although a redoubt had been commenced on Sewell's Point, it was considered so insecure that no guns had been mounted. That was the reason that only field guns could be brought against the steamer on the late occasion. I hope in time our troops and operations will become better organized. At present great allowance must be made on account of the ant of instructions of the men and the inexperience of officers. General B. Huger, formerly of the U. S. Army, an officer of great merit, has been assigned to the command at Norfolk and I hope will be ale to secure it against successful invasion. Permit me to hope that you are relieved from your distressing attack of indispostion, and are able to give your powerful aid to your STate in this time of peril. The services of no one, I ams sure, will be more valuable to her. I have written with many things pressing on my attention, and have been necessarily brief.
With the highest respect and esteem, I am, very truly
R. E. LEE.
Raleigh, N. C. May 24, 1861.
Major General R. E. LEE.
Commanding Forces Virginia:
GENERAL: Your favor of the 15th intant was duly received, and in reply I regret to say that upon inquiry of Colonel Bradford chief of our ordnance there are no gun carriages at the Fayetteville Arsenal which would be suitable for your purpose. I have ordered some to be made, which, however, will require time. I have three field batteries of bronze pieces. One has four 6-pounders and two howitzers, and one rifled piece each. These three batteries are in perfect order, and Ihave directed them to be mounted at once. Indeed, two of them have been partially mounted for some weeks. I will send them to Virginia very soon, if desired. Besides these I have from twenty to thirty 6 and 12 pounders, most of which are in good order. Two caissons two ammunition wagons, and several pairs of harness will be needed for the use