ing its horses. Only three companies are now mounted, many of the horses being in South Carolina. The Nineteenth Regiment is very imperfectly armed and equipped, and not fully supplied with horses. That regiment is in Pocahontas County, near Huntersville, and I have no other troops on that line. The enemy is reported to have several regiments and batteries at and near Beverly, and they appear to be pushing down into Pocahontas.
I cannot think it prudent to withdraw the Nineteenth Regiment from its present position. I earnestly desired to contribute all that I could from this department to General Lee`s army, and think I have done so. If I were to yield to the calls of General Lee on my right and General Buckner on my left, this department would soon be without troops. I must, therefore, decline-and I do it with reluctance-detaching any more troops from my command without an order from the War Department.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CONFIDENTIAL.] HDQRS. ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, June 8, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 5th instant, transmitting copies of two letters from General Whiting, at the suggestion of the President. I can understand the anxiety felt by General Whiting for the safety of Wilmington and its railroad communications. I have no means of knowing the force of the enemy in North Carolina and the extent of his operations excepting from the reports of the officers. He does not seem to have projected much, and has accomplished less. This is no doubt partly owing to the judicious dispositions of our troops by the commanding officers in that department. But I think if the force of the enemy was as strong as supposed by Generals D. H. Hill and Whiting, at least more would have been attempted. There is always hazard in military movements, but we must decide between the positive loss of inactivity and the risk of action. I think the letters mailed to New Berne only show that the writers supposed their correspondents were in North Carolina. Many of them may have been there at one time, but it is known that a large force was withdrawn from there to South Carolina, and that they have not been returned. General Hill, at his last visit to New Berne with two brigades, drove the enemy within his intrenchments and kept him there all day. I cannot suppose that so large a force as is estimated by Generals Whiting and Hill could have been thus cooped up by so small a body of men.
As far as I can judge, there is nothing to be gained by this army remaining quietly on the defensive, which it must do unless it can be re-enforced. I am aware that there is difficulty and hazard in taking the aggressive with so large an army in its front, intrenched behind a river, where it cannot be advantageously attacked. Unless it can be drawn out in a position to be assailed, it will take its own time to prepare and strengthen itself to renew its advance upon Richmond, and force this army back within the intrenchments of that city. This may be the result in any event; still, I think it is worth a trial