As a means of offense, therefore, in the enemy's hands these negroes, when able-bodied, are of the last importance. Without them the batteries could not have been erected, at least for many weeks. As a military question, it would seem to be a measure of necessity to deprive their masters of their services. How can this be done? As a political question and a question of humanity, can I receive the services of the father and mother and not take the children? Of the humanitarian aspect I have no doubt. Of the political one I have no right to judge. I therefore submit all this to your better judgment; and as these questions have a political aspect, I have ventured—and I trust I am not wrong—to duplicate the parts of my dispatches relating to this subject and forward them to the secretary of war.Maj. John B. Hood (subsequently a distinguished Confederate lieutenant-general) was, on the 23d, placed in charge of the cavalry on York river, for the purpose of establishing a camp of instruction and making judicious disposition of the pickets and videttes; the same day Col. D. H. Hill (later a Confederate lieutenant-general) assumed command of the post at Yorktown. On the 28th, two more companies of cavalry were ordered from the camp of instruction at Ashland to Yorktown; Hodges' Virginia regiment was sent to Jamestown island as a protecting force for the batteries, and Jordan's artillery company was ordered to Jamestown island and Hupp's to Craney island. Cabell's battery of light artillery was ordered from Gloucester point to Yorktown, leaving at the former place only 400 infantry under command of Lieut.-Col. P. R. Page. On the 31st, in a letter to Governor Ellis, of North Carolina, General Lee said he had recommended forwarding troops to Norfolk and the transfer of the North Carolina camp of instruction from Weldon to Suffolk, because of the importance of holding Norfolk, which commands the communication with North Carolina by canal and railroad, and in view of the danger of the occupation of Suffolk by United States forces and thereby closing communication between Richmond and Norfolk.
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