Richmond, Va., April 30, 1862

General Joseph E. Johnston,

Commanding, &c., Yorktown, Va.:


General: Your letter of the 27th, reporting the condition of affairs on the Peninsula, has been received.

The preparation of bateaux by the enemy indicates, I think, an attack on Gloucester Point, in conjunction with his general attack upon your lines. The presence of the Virginia in York River would disconcert that part of his plan as well as the ascent of York River. I have conversed with the Secretary of the Navy, who thinks the Virginia should repair to Yorktown, and that it might be accomplished at night. Should you, after hearing from Flag-Officer Tatnall, determine upon this measure, could you arrange a signal to call the steamer to you? Should you not be able to designate the precise time? Coal will have to be prepared for her at Yorktown. Do you wish any sent? I trust you may be able to retain command of York River, but we must make every preparation for a disaster, which may occur, and I will write to General Huger to prepare him for the contingency apprehended.

Operations for obstructing the channel of the James River at a point 8 miles below the city have been in progress ever since my arrival. I regret to state it is not completed, and the work has been much retarded by freshets and the want of means of transportation, all of the latter being in requisition for troops and provisions for your army.

The quartermaster reports that the bridges across the Chickahominy in this vicinity are repaired, except one, which will be finished tomorrow. Bottom’s, Long, and Forge Bridges below required much work. Workmen are now engaged on them, and they are directed to use every exertion to complete them.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

R E Lee,





Source: The War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Volume 11, Part 3, p. 476

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2018 November 13