War of the Rebellion: Serial 108 Page 1282 MD., E. N. C., PA., VA., EXCEPT S. W., & W. VA. Chapter LXIII.

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HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES,

Yorktown, Va., November 24, 1863.

Major General B. F. BUTLER,

Commanding Department:

GENERAL: I have the honor to transmit herewith a statement and plan by Colonel Robert M. West, commanding at Williamsburg, which I commend to your earnest and favorable consideration. The statement I believe to be correct as far as it goes. There are, in addition to the forces named, about 1,500 infantry at and near Petersburg; also the City Battalion in Richmond, said to be a considerable body, composed of clerks, mechanics, and laborers employed by the Confederate Government, and tolerably effective on their own ground. Our raids have given them frequent practice in turning out under arms. I suppose it would require at least three hours to bring the Petersburg troops to the threatened point - probably at the early hour proposed considerably longer. They might be drawn down toward Weldon by a previous demonstration of infantry in that direction. I believe the plan entirely feasible, and would rejoice to assume the responsibility and conduct of the enterprise. Colonel West is an accomplished soldier of great prudence and judgment, and in my judgment eminently fitted for the cavalry part of the enterprise. At the moment of entering Richmond, parties of picked men, selected from exchanged prisoners and others locally acquainted, might be detached to fire public buildings, including, if possible, the Tredegar Iron-Works. I would like to march all the available infantry and light artillery of my command, so as to meet the returning cavalry at Bottom's Bridge and support and cover it. A simultaneous movement of a small army gun-boat into the Lower Chickahominy would add to the safety of the retreat.

I have the honor to be, general, with great respect, your obedient servant,

I. J. WISTAR,

Brigadier-General.

[Inclosure.]

HEADQUARTERS,

Fort Magruder, Va., November 24, 1863.

Brigadier General I. J. WISTAR,

Commanding at Yorktown:

GENERAL: Believing the present to be an auspicious time to strike for the relief of our suffering soldiers in the Richmond prisons, I respectfully beg leave to present herewith a statement and a plan for that object, the former of which can be relied upon, and the latter, I feel the greatest confidence, can be accomplished. The forces of the enemy as at present disposed between here and Richmond are as follows:

This side the Chickahominy-

A scouting force of infantry and cavalry immediately

in front of this position on permanent cavalry........... 31

Couriers on Richmond road at Barhamsville................ 2

Couriers on Richmond road at Slatersville................ 2

Couriers on Richmond road at New Kent Court-House........ 2

Picket on Richmond road at New Kent Court-House.......... 8

Picket on Diascond road at Kames' farm, one mile side

Forge Bridge............................................. 8

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Aggregate................................................ 53