War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0119 Chapter XX. BATTLE OF ROANOKE ISLAND, N.C.

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Again, when I met him at Great Bridge, February 16, he corrected verbally what he had written to me, alleging error in the statement that he had changed my orders, admitted that he had changed the route of my artillery as ordered by me and assigned the same reasons for so doing that he had given to Colonel Henningsen and Lieutenant Pearce, to wit "the impracticability of the beach route," &c. I assured him that I knew it to be not only practicable, but the best route in either Virginia or North Carolina, and referred him to my son, Lieutenant R. A. Wise, who had but lately then pursued then route most of the way in a tilt-wagon with a pair of mules, and to Lieutenant J. C. Gallop, who had described the route fully to Colonel Henningsen and Lieutenant Pearce at Norfolk in my presence, and who resided at Gallop's Ferry. He still insisted that the route was impracticable, and said he would order a survey. That, unfortunately, was impracticable, as the beach then was in possession of the enemy, and I so replied. But then I aver he was ignorant of the route. There are no inlets, no estuaries, no creeks to obstructed horsemen from Cape Henry to Oregon Inlet, nearly 100 miles, and the deep sands of the hills are easily avoided by taking the ocean shore at almost any tide. But now he changes his grounds for changing the route. In reply to Colonel Henningsen's statement, he says that every tug, barge, and vessel that could be procured was engaged to transport troops, &c., to Roanoke Island. Unfortunately for General Huger this excuse is as groundless as the former. I aver that not only every tug, barge, and vessels that could be procured was not engaged to transport troops, &c., to Roanoke Island, but that every one, of every description, was not inopportunely ordered away from Roanoke Island, and imperatively put under orders of General Huger's quartermaster for the transportation of forage to Norfolk. The only steam-tug I had for transportation was the tug Roanoke and two barges, and these ordered away after the arrival of the enemy at Roanoke Island, as the order, of which the following, delivered to me during the battle, is a copy, will show:


Brigadier General HENRY A. WISE,

Commanding Fourth Brigade, Roanoke Island:

SIR; The steamer Roanoke towed down two barges, which were ordered by the quartermaster to proceed to Scuppernong and bring back corn to this place. If the Roanoke has been taken for other service, you will, on receipt of this, send her and the barges to carry out the orders of the quartermaster. I have to charter vessels to bring forage here, and will give vessels so employed by the Quartermaster's Department certificates that they are employed by me, and such vessels are not to be interfered with by any one. You will direct the captains of all steamboats coming here from your command to report to the chief quartermaster and any officer coming up to report to headquarters. These orders are imperative.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.

Why General Huger says that "if these men and horses are separated from their guns they would probably never meet again" I cannot conceive. This blunder may account for his "one" company error in his note to me. The men were not to be separated from their guns nor from their horses. One company was to be detailed to lead the horses down to the beach to Nag's Head, and the other two companies, with their guns, &c., were to be towed to the island through the canal, the two ways converging to the same point - the island. But grant what he says, "that every tug, barge, and vessel that could be procured was