No. 23. Report of Major General Benjamin Huger, C. S. Army, commanding Department of Norfolk, with correspondence.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORFOLK, Norfolk, Va., February 10, 1862.
SIR: I telegraphed last night that a steamer had arrived from Nag's Head and brought the news that Roanoke Island was captured. Men who escaped across Roanoke Sound brought them this information. Lieutenant Pearse brought up his ammunition by this opportunity, but had no communication with Roanoke Island, and got his information from runaways. Such information is not usually correct, but from his statements I had to treat it as true as regards the fact of the capture of all the forces on the island.
I have ordered-
1st. The Sixth Virginia Regiment, some six companies, under Colonel Corprew, to proceed to the Currituck Bridge, near outlet of Chesapeake and Albemarle Canal, to block that avenue to Norfolk. There is a battery of three 32-pounders at Currituck Bridge.
2nd. Five companies of the Third Georgia Regiment, under Major Lee, to South Mills, the outlet of Dismal Swamp Canal, to protect that approach,and I have sent orders to Colonel Henningsen, who is at Elizabeth City, to fall back to South Mills and co-operate with Major Lee.
3rd. Colonel Hamilton, at Suffolk, is ordered to throw some companies to the Black Water and protect the approach to the railroad bridge on the Black Water, and to obstruct the river.
4th. Lieutenant-Colonel Williams, First North Carolina Battalion, to proceed down the Black Water and Chowan to near Winton, to obstruct the passage of the Meherrin and Chowan, and I have ordered Captain Nichol's light battery to join him and assist in preventing a landing and stopping their boats.
As soon as the enemy hears the news (if true) I expected he will make demonstration in my front, and you will perceive this force can only perform outpost duty.
I will advise you of facts as soon as I can get them, and if the enemy are in strong force on the south of me I must be re-enforced.
I need say nothing now of Roanoke Island. I send you a copy of my instructions to General Wise as soon as he reported to me, dated January 13. These orders have never been carried out. I cannot but regret that Commander Lynch did not come into the Albemarle Canal. We could have supplied him with ammunition and had the use of his boats. I had loaded up a boat with ammunition for him and the island and dispatched it last evening. Soon after it left it met the steamer from Nag's Head with the news of the disaster and returned. These two boats are all I have to forward troops and supplies. Now Commander Lynch is shut up in Elizabeth City I fear he will lose all his boats.
Persons from the south of this report firing in direction of Elizabeth City. Nothing official to 11.30 a. m.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.