opposite bank from the town. Our troops, thus overpowered and nearly surrounded, made such an escape as they could, and many no doubt were captured, but I have no reliable knowledge of this or of the casualties on either side.
New Berne being in possession of the enemy, we have no communication there, except from some refugees or stragglers.
The hard fighting that took place dispose me to believe that there was considerable mortality on both sides.
I suppose you will soon have official reports.
I hear much complaint and criticism among the people of the absence of General Gatlin from the field of battle and his entire neglect and inattention to the coastal defenses of his command for the last five months, and they judge of this neglect and inattention from the alleged fact that he has not during that period visited and examined the fortifications and inspected the troops more than once, if at all, during his command of six months, notwithstanding his headquarters are in easy railroad communication of both General Anderson's and Branch's commands.
I am only stating what I hear constantly around me. Perhaps his headquarters is the proper place for him, but the people so deeply interested in their own homes and interests expected the benefit of his military knowledge and experience, and [are] greatly distressed that they have not had it, and regard with much anxiety his want of attention to their safety and interest and what they believe was his special business.
The present prospect is that we shall soon have our quota, five regiments, and probably more, and I am looking to you for the supply of arms.
In connection with the formation of these regiments I will take the liberty of suggesting to you some regulation or legislation to inquire by examination or otherwise into the qualification of the commissioned officers.
It seems now that there is manifest want of attention to the proper requisite for an officer. In the great number there must necessarily be many that are not qualified, but still there should be some means of ascertaining the fitness of at least commanding officers of companies, regiments, and brigades, and regulations, general in their application, would our ought to prove acceptable. Too much has to be intrusted to the commanding officer.
HENRY T. CLARK.
ADJT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 60.
Richmond, March 15, 1862.
* * * * * *
XIV. Brigadier General Richard C. Gatlin is relieved from duty in North Carolina on account of ill health, and will be succeeded in the command of the Department of North Carolina by Brigadier General Joseph R. Anderson.
XV. Brigadier General Samuel G. French will repair to Wilmington, N. C., and relieve Brigadier-General Anderson in the command of that district.*
*See General Orders, Numbers 13, dated at Wilmington, N. C., March 22, 1862, p. 450.