[SECRETARY OF WAR:]
MY DEAR SIR: I inclose you General Pickett's letter. I earnestly beg that the necessary order should be given.
R. M. T. HUNTER.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF LOWER RAPPAHANNOCK, Tappahhannock, February 12, 1862.
Major S. B. FRENCH,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-General, Brooke's Station, Va.:
MAJOR: I have the honor to report that I have recently returned from Middlessex. I accompanied Colonel G. W. C. Lee, aide to the President (who was on a tour inspecting the defenses of the Rappahannock), to Urbana. After a careful examination of the charts and the situation of the ground, &c., in the vicinity of the village, he came to the conclusion, which agreed with my former reports to the major-general commanding, that by placing one rifled gun on a projecting point from a quarter to a half mile above the town, and the other two rifled guns (which came down to-day and which I have forwarded with ammunition to Colonel Brockenbrough) on some bluffs immediately opposite. The river not being over a mile and three-quarteres in width, we will be enabled effectually to keep off the blockading steamers and the river open for navigation above that point. These guns carry two miles, and the distance across the river is very little greater than at Gray's Point, and the position much more secure from an attack. I would respectfully ask the general's instructions with regard to Fort Lowry. They are at a stand-still there at present. The engineer, Captain Howard, laid his plans before the Engineer Bureau in Richmond. It seems that they have some scheme about a casemate battery which will be bomb-proof and shelter the men at the guns entirely, except from a direct shot through the embrasure. It will doubtless be the best plan with our not over and well drilled troops, and our late misfortunes with our batteries should put us on our guard. My object is to get the general to obtain at once an order from the War Department or the Navy Department, whichever has the control of it, to give us the plan and let us go to work without delay. We have not time to lose. We cannot tell at what moment the Burnside or some othe expedition may be upon us. Moments are precious, and so soon as I know what to do I will put a force at work of sufficient numbers to enable us to get ready for the enemy. At present we would stand but a feeble chance against a well-organized fleet. I have waited for some time past in anxious expectation of some definite instructions from Richmond, but receive nothing. Please lay this matter fully before the general commanding.
I am, major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
G. E. PICKETT,
Colonel, C. S. Provisional Army, commanding.
P. S.- There is a large steamer at the month of the river in place of the smaller one (the Dawn) which was crippled by Captain Fleet. Captain Curell, from Whitestone, sends me word yesterday that she is a two-decker; that he could see distinctly with his glass two rows of ports.
G. E. P.