serve brought up from Hatters and Roanoke Island I don't know. He has taken possession of Beaufort, and Fort Macon is invested; he is also fortifying New Berne by a line of intrenchments extending from one river to the other.
I see no signs of an advance in this direction. As near as I can ascertain, his present position is, viz: 2,000 men about Beaufort, 4,000 in New Berne, and the remainder of his army across the Trent, opposite. If I attack New Berne, he can concentrate and fight me if he thinks proper, or he can cross over the Trent and leave me to be shelled out of the town form both rivers by his gunboats. This would also imply the destruction of the town, which would not only cause great misery among the poor people who remained there, but would add to the lukewarmness that threatens to culminate here into indifference to the cause. I have no words to express my disappointment and distress at this feeling, particularly as I can expect comparatively little sympathy beyond my power to protect property.
I am, general, very respectfully,
TH. H. HOLMES,
HEADQUARTERS, Richmond, April 15, 1862.
Major General T. H. HOLMES,
Commanding Department, Goldsborough, N. C.:
GENERAL: I have had the honor to receive your letter of 13th instant,* including reports of the disposition and movements of the enemy in your front and of the state of affairs in Fort Macon. I am deeply grieved to hear of the discontent and insubordination which is reported to exist among the troops in Fort Macon. In addition to other matters, Lieutenant Fenrose tells me they complain of their fare. This is much to be regretted, but I suppose is now beyond remedy. Indeed from the accounts given me I very much doubt whether even a tolerable resistance would be made if the fort were attacked, and you are authorized, if it be possible, to withdraw the garrison and secure such of the public property as can be brought off, if you think it advisable.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS, Goldsborough, April 15, 1862.
Major General R. E. LEE:
MY DEAR GENERAL: The letters I sent you by Lieutenant Primrose showed the strength of the enemy. On this coast he has twenty regiments in the immediate vicinity of New Berne and three near Fort Macon. His only reserve is about 3,000 men at Roanoke Island. His effective force is probably about 20,000, with ten gunboats in the Neuse and Trent Rivers.
My effective force is about 14,000, three of the regiments being raw recruits.