War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0134 OPERATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA. Chapter XX.

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And on the same day, January 13, I addressed to the Secretary of War a letter of which the following is an extract:

NORFOLK, VA., January 13, 1862.

Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War, &c.:

SIR: It is very important that my Legion should be forwarded as speedily and in as large a force as possible. The defense of Roanoke Island, which is the key of all the rear defenses of Norfolk and its canals and railroads, is committed to my charge, and I have just returned from a reconnaissance of that point. It is now utterly defenseless. No preparations have been made there at all adequate. General Huger has given me a large authority to do whatever is necessary and has advised what he deems proper in my command; but we have very limited means, and not half time enough to prepare to meet an enemy who is now almost in our immediate presence in very formidable force. Twice the number of my Legion is necessary, and I beg that the place of my Third Regiment may be speedily filled or that it may be restored. If that cannot be done, or whether that can be done or not, I ask that the officers of the force left me may be duly commissioned from the time they were nominated by me and that they served. The incomplete report of the organization of my Legion, date August 13 last, is in your office. On it, indorsed in pencil, I found your order for the commission to be issued according to the report. They were not issued, and I found that the report was not indexed or recorded. The only excuse given me was that the report was not signed by me. It was signed by Assistant Adjutant-General Tabb by my order, and it ws recognized by you in your order. That order has not been obeyed, and I ask that the commission then ordered be issued, not to take effect from their respective dates of nomination and service.

Again, on January 14, I addressed to General Huger a letter of which the following is a copy:

ROLLISTON, NEAR NORFOLK, VA., January 15, 1862.

Major General B. HUGER, Commanding, &c.:

SIR: Yours of January 11, 1862, assigning me to the command of my appointed military district, designated as the Fourth Brigade, Department of Norfolk, was received late last evening.

As reported verbally to you I have already visited the district, assumed command, and issued such orders as I was to find me with your approbation. You were also informed by memorandum, and since in writing, of the requisition for my command. I am now awaiting the arrival of a portion of my Legion. As soon as it is moved to Roanoke Island I desire to visit the War Department, to look after that portion of the Legion on its way and to attend to the issuing of commissions for certain of my officers. I am ordered to establish my headquarters, subject to your approval, at the most central and accessible point to the forces of my brigade. Permit me to call your attention, sir, to the fact that the most central are not be most accessible points in my command. Elizabeth City is most central and accessible by land from Norfolk; by water from Roanoke Island 45 miles either way; but there are times in foggy weather when the sound is impassable, and in stormy weather when it is unsafe. Currituck Court-House (called Crawford) is on the line of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Bay Canal and more accessible, but still remote from the main body of forced at Roanoke Island, and the Albemarle Sound has to be passed to and from the island. Hertford, Nixonton, or Edenton are still more remote, with the some objection of delay and danger by water navigation. The key of the whole command is Roanoke Island, and the only quarters yet erected near it are at Nag's Head. With you approval I propose to adopt the latter as my headquarters, to be changed, of course, as necessity or experience may dictate.

I found a long wooden building erected at Roanoke Island for a hospital. The island is unsafe as a medical depot and hospital, and the spot selected is near a marsh and swamp, which must be, and is reported to be, unhealthy and beset in summer by mosquitoes. On consultation with Surgeon-General De Leon I have ordered Surgeon Lyons to proceed at once to Currituck Court-House and examine that place for a hospital site. It is both healthy and safe, and accessible to the forces at Roanoke Island and to medical supplies at Norfolk.

As soon as my forces arrive and I can make the selection I will detail a suitable officer from my brigade to report to your headquarters as acting assistant inspector-general.

I will also examine whether the provision returns of the respective regiments and posts of my brigade correspond with their morning reports, and I will see that the hospital and commissary returns do not exceed the whole force. This, though, can only be done when my forces shall have arrived and been posted.