retary of War, sufficiently indicate the nature of those combinations to minds accustomed to reason upon military operations:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, Washington, September 6, 1861.
SIR: I have the honor to suggest the following proposition, with the request that the necessary authority be at once given me to carry it out-to organize a force of two brigades, of five regiments each, of New England men, for the general service, but particularly adapted to coast service, the officers and men, to be sufficiently conversant with boat service to manage steamers, sailing vessels, launches, barges, surf-boats, floating batteries, &c.; to charter or buy for the command a sufficient number of propellers or tug-boats for transportation of men and supplies, the machinery of which should be amply protected by timber; the vessels to have permanent experienced officers from the merchant service, but to be manned by details from the command: a naval officer to be attached to the staff of the commanding officer; the flank companies of each regiment to be armed with Dahlgren boat guns and carbines with water-proof cartridge; the other companies to have such and arms as I may hereafter designate; to be uniformed any equipped as the Rhode Island regiments are; launches and floating batteries with timber parapets of sufficient capacity of land or bring into action the entire force. The entire management and organization of the force to be under my control, and to form an integral part of the Army of the Potomac.
The immediate object of this force is for operations in the inlets of Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac. By enabling me thus to land troops at points where they are needed, this force can also be used in conjunction with a naval force operating against points on the sea-coast. This coast division to be commanded by a general officer of my selection; the regiments to be organized as other land forces; the disbursements for vessels, &c., to be made by the proper department of the Army upon the requisitions of the general commanding the division, with my approval.
I think the entire force can be organized in thirty days, and by no means the least of the advantages of this proposition is the fact that it will call into the service a class of men who would not otherwise enter the Army.
You will immediately perceive that the object of this force is to follow along the coast and up the inlets and rivers the movements of the main army when it advances.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
Honorable SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.
Owing chiefly to the difficulty in procuring the requisite vessels and adapting them to the special purposes contemplated, this expedition was not ready for service until January, 1862. Then in the chief command, I deemed it best to send it to North Carolina, with the design indicated in the following letter:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, January 7, 1862.
GENERAL: In accordance with verbal instructions heretofore given you, you will, after uniting with Flag-Officer Goldsborough, at Fort Monroe, proceed under his convoy to Hatteras Inlet, where you will, in connection with him, take the most prompt measures for crossing the fleet over the bulkhead into the waters of the sound. Under the accompanying general order, constituting the Department of North Carolina, you will assume command of the garrison at Hatteras Inlet, and make such dispositions in regard to that place as your ulterior operations may render necessary, always being careful to provide for the safety of that very important station in any contingency.
Your first point of attack will be Roanoke Island and its dependencies. It is presumed that the Navy can reduce the batteries on the marshes and cover the landing of your troops on the main island, by which, in connection with a rapid movement of the gunboats to the northern extremity as soon as the march battery is reduced, it may be hoped to capture the entire garrison of the place. Having occupied the island and its dependencies, you will at once proceed to the erection of the batteries and defenses necessary to hold the position with a small force. Should the flag-officer require any assistance in seizing or holding the debouches of the canal from Norfolk, you will please afford it to him.
The commodore and yourself having completed your arrangements in regard to Roanoke Island and the waters north of it, you will please at once make a descent on New Berne, having gained possession of which and the railroad passing through it, you will at once throw a sufficient force upon Beaufort, and take the steps necessary to reduce Fort Macon and open that port. When you seize New Berne, you will