effect of this change is to embrace a greater extent of country within a shorter line of pickets, and to take within our lines a portion of Isle of Wright County hitherto unprotected.
II. The line of the Blackwater is strong. Rifle-pits and epaulements for field artillery have been erected where needed, and the forces there posted will be enabled to resist superior numbers. Franklin is, however, exposed to attack, and should gun-boats attack it cannot be held. It is, however, a place of no importance whatsoever, and I am taking steps to remove from there those stores which alone make the place valuable in a military point of view.
III. A bridge at New South Quay, or Parker's Landing, is very much needed to facilitate the operations of the forces on this side of the Blackwater in the direction of Somerton. For want of this bridge the forces operating there would be compelled, in case of danger from a superior force, to retreat by the raft bridge, much higher up the stream, and would be liable to be cut off. Eight pontoons will be sufficient to make the bridge, and if they can be had from Richmond it will spare the troops an amount of labor perhaps they not have time or means to preform at all. I respectfully call special attention to this point, and hope the pontoons will be sent by rail to Franklin if they can be spared.
IV. Two regiments of cavalry were stationed along the Blackwater under General Pryor. One of them has been ordered to North Carolina, leaving but one of less than 300 effective men to preform all the picket, patrol, and courier duty on a line of more than forty miles in extent. This leaves no cavalry force in hand with to flight the enemy, who are themselves very strong in cavalry. I desire to call the special attention of the major-general commanding to our great deficiency and inferiority in this arm of the service. The country on both sides of the Blackwater is eminently suitable for rapid movements by which the enemy can be harassed and stores can be seized and brought within our lines. I am sorry to state that our cavalry extremely interior to the enemy, and when attacked by them are invariably worsted and many of them taken prisoners, unless they have time to dismount and throw themselves in the thickets, where alone they can use their arms with effect. They have no sabers or pistols, and are armed only with the old Harper's Ferry rifle, which is entirely unsuitable for mounted men. They have consequently lost self-confidence in the presence of the enemy's cavalry. I would most earnestly recommend-
First. That at least 300 sabers and as many pistols be sent to General Pryor without delay.
Second. That his cavalry force be increased by another regiment of well-armed men.
I would state in this connection that among the troops under General Pryor's command is a battalion of dismounted cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel Edmundson, Twenty-seventh Virginia Battalion. Their horses were sent to their respective homes from Wytheville, and they were ordered to Richmond. Having been dismounted only three weeks ago, they have had no opportunity for instruction, and they make very poor infantry. They are very anxious to be remounted, and Colonel Edmundson sent a request to that effect to the War Department. General Pryor requests authority to be allowed to remount them by purchasing horses for them within the enemy's lines, where they can be had at a low price. Whether this be allowed or not, I would recommend that Colonel E.'s battalion be remounted, either as proposed above or sending for their horses from their homes.