HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORFOLK,
November 27, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 25th instant. As regards the companies detached to serve the guns at the intrenched camp, I do not desire to organize them into a separate battalion. The companies at present detailed for this duty are an artillery company from Dinwiddie County, Va., a company of Colonel S. M. Wilson's battalion, and one company from the Twelfth and one from the Sixth Virginia Volunteers. What I desire is a competent commander to instruct them and a staff officer to provide for them, and therefore request that Captain R. C. Taylor, Company G, Sixth Regiment Virginia Volunteers, be appointed major in the Provisional Army, and Mr. Shields commissary and quartermaster, and I will assign them to this command, which will require four companies, even if I should change any of the companies now on this duty. As regards "the rumors of apathy and apparent indifference to duty amongst the troops of this command," I can safely state that there is not much foundation for them. It is true that for a month past all the command have been occupied in building huts for winter quarters, and drills had to be, in a measure, suspended. At Craney Island, which, from its easy access by steam-boat, is taken charge of by all the idlers, who do nothing themselves, the quarters are completed are regular drills resumed on the 25th instant. I inspected them and witnessed their exercises and fired a few rounds. I acknowledge many deficiencies. We want instructed officers of the Navy, and they are generally in as good condition as they can be until a supply of powder can be furnished to practice the men in firing the guns. I am devising a plan to place obstructions in the narrows of the channel below Craney Island, and will submit it and ask authority to place them. One of the battle-ships, say the Merrimac, moored across the channel above them would block the passage up.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
NORFOLK, November 27, 1861.
Honorable JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President of the Confederate States:
DEAR SIR: Will you pardon my zeal in suggesting that if the Merimac should prove a success in Hampton Roads she be immediately sent up the Potomac. She might capture or destroy everything of the enemy afloat in that river, and might, if her draft would allow, destroy (or take) the Washington Navy-Yard and the valuable work-shops of the enemy in sight of the Federal President and Congress. She might also be able to get near enough to the Long Bridge to destroy it, if desirable, and might throw shells into Arlington Heights, &c. If our troops were to attempt to cross the river she could cover their landing almost anywhere, eveninto Washington.
Yours, respectfully and truly,
A. F. LEONARD.
P. S.-Let her be on the lookout for torpedoes of the enemy in Hampton Roads.