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Correspondence and orders concerning the army of Northern Virginia.

[We propose giving, from time to time, from the compilation made by the “War records” office, such letters and orders as may be of special interest and value to our readers-beginning with those concerning the Army of Northern Virginia from May 30th, to August 13th, 1862.]

General,--I had the honor to write you on Saturday,1 expressing the opinion that it is absolutely necessary that the Department of Henrico should be included in my command. Having received no reply, I respectfully repeat the suggestion, and ask the President to have the proper orders in the case given. It is needless to remind either of you of the mischief inevitable from divided commands.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. Johnston, General.

Headquarters, Richmond, Va., May 21, 1862.
General Joseph E. Johnston, Comdg. Army of Northern Virginia.
General,--The President desires to know the number of troops around Richmond, how they are posted, and the organization of the divisions and brigades; also, the programme of operations which you propose. The information relative to the composition and position of your army can readily be furnished, but your plan of operations, dependent upon circumstances, perhaps, yet to be developed, may not be so easily explained, nor may it be prudent to commit it to paper. I would, therefore, respectfully suggest that you communicate your views on this subject personally to the President, which, perhaps, would be more convenient to you and satisfactory to him.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General.

Headquarters, Richmond, Va., May 22, 1862.
General J. E. Johnston, Comdg. Army of Northern Virginia, Headquarters near Richmond, Va.
General,--Your letter of this morning relative to the construction of [188] the bridge near Drewry's Bluff has been received.2 Upon inquiring of the acting chief engineer, I find that everything necessary for the construction of a bridge has been furnished Captain Blackford and sent down to-day, except labor. Fifty laborers have also been sent down, and others will be sent as soon as they can be procured. Owing to the difficulty of getting hands, it will be necessary to draw any additional force that may be wanted from the troops stationed in contiguous positions to the work.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General.

Headquarters, Richmond, Va., May 22, 1862.
General J. E. Johnston, Commanding, &c.
General,--Your letter of this morning3 by Major Whiting has been received, and I can only assure you that there is no question as to the extent of your authority or command. The troops at and around Drewry's Bluff are commanded by General Mahone, and are a part of General Huger's division, whose operations you of course control.

As regards the work at Drewry's Bluff, it was commenced under the general plan and superintendence of Captain Rives, and subsequently has been placed in immediate charge of the Navy. The system adopted is so far advanced as to render it hazardous to change it, and the only thing to be done is to strengthen and complete it as fast as possible. Captain Clarke is considered the constructing engineer, and I see no objection to Major Stevens having the general control, if his other duties will permit, or at least to his giving to Captain Clarke and the naval officers in charge the benefit of his experience and knowledge. But the President is unwilling to disturb the arrangement with the Navy Department now existing, further than is necessary to insure the general control of the military operations now exercised by General Mahone, who is, of course, subject to your orders.

I am, General, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee, General.

Headquarters, Harrison's, Va., May 28, 1862--9 A. M.
General Lee.
General,--If McDowell is approaching, of which there can be no [189] doubt, we must fight very soon. Every man we have should be here. Major-General Holmes's troops should, therefore, be ordered to Richmond forthwith; they may be wanted to-morrow. I have more than once suggested a concentration here of all available forces.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

P. S.--I shall bring up Huger.

J. E. J.

1 Not found.

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3 Not found.

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