RICHMOND, VA., March 28, 1862.
Hon. Mr. GAITHER, Chairman, &c.:
SIR: By permission of a portion of the committee over which you preside I obtained yesterday a copy of General Huger's remarks upon my communication of Colonel Shaw's report of the battle of Roanoke Island.
I beg leave most respectfully to submit some remarks upon the remarks of General Huger.
First. He says that my statement that the artillery of my Legion did not reach me owing to his interruption of my orders to Colonel Henningsen seems to convey the insinuation that the officious interruption of General Huger was the cause of the artillery not arriving, and that his intention was to expedite its arrival, not prevent it, as his paragraph seems to imply. If General Huger, in this paragraph, had left out the word insinuation, and for the word officious had substituted ignorant - had stated that I meant to convey the idea that the ignorant interruption of General Huger was the cause of my artillery not arriving - he would have been nearly correct in his inference, and he would have been relieved of the necessity for any averment of his intention to expedite the arrival of my artillery.
I ordered Colonel Henningsen, commanding a light artillery corps of three companies, six pieces and 213 horses, to have the horses led from Norfolk across what is called the Sand Bridge down the sea-beach to Nag's Head, and to have the field pieces, caissons, and ammunition towed by steam-tugs through the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal to Roanoke Island. After I left Norfolk he countermanded this order, and commanded Colonel Henningsen to mount the artillery and haul it by horses on land to the nearest point. The nearest point was Powell's Point, about 15 or 20 miles from the island, across the Albemarle Sound, where there was no means of water transportation, except in a small lighter ferry at Gallop's, from the beach to the point.
Colonel Henningsen went to Elizabeth City, 45 miles off, and thence to the island. There was no transportation. Had he been allowed to obey my orders he could have reached me easily in three days, and would have arrived from three to five days before the fight on February 8, leaving Norfolk, as General Huger admits, on the 29th or 30th of January.
On February 8, during the battle, I wrote to General Huger for a boat, and expressed my regret that his change of the route of my artillery prevented its arrival.
On the 9th he replied by note, saving, "You are in error when you say 'Colonel Henningsen was diverted from following the route your ordered him to take by me.' I gave him no order, but not to send one company by the beach, as your ordered. In all other respects he was to obey your orders." Thus he in effect denied making the change in my orders except as to one company, and now he pleads justification of the change of my orders admitted to have been made by him. I required reports of Colonel Henningsen and of my ordinance officer, Lieutenant J. H. Pearce. Both officially reported that General Huger had changed my orders, and assigned as reasons for changing the route designated by me that it was impracticable to lead the horses down the beach, owing to the tide, estuaries, inlets, creeks and deep sands. That was his reason then for doing what he had written he had not done.