land batteries wholly inefficient. Any boat drawing 7 feet of water or less can pass the Croatan Sound as far off as 1 1/4 miles from any battery, and the enemy's guns can silence our batteries there in a very short time. Neither battery is casemated, and our men now there are untrained to heavy pieces mounted on navy carriages. The moment the enemy passes Croatan Channel the North Landing River, North River, Pasquotank, Chowan, and Roanoke, Alligator, and Scuppernong River, and the Dismal Swamp and Albemarle and Chesapeake Canals will be blockaded effectually, and Norfolk and Portsmouth will be cut off from supplies of corn, pork, and forage. The force at Hatteras is independent of the Burnside expedition. No matter where the latter is, the former is amply sufficient to capture or pass Roanoke Island in any twelve hours. Let me say, then, sir, that if we are to wait for powder from Richmond until we are attacked at that island, that attack will be capture, and our defeat will precede our supply of ammunition. The case is too urgent for me to delay speaking thus out plainly at once.
We have the navy-yard pile-driver. I took it down and put it to work. I can drive about twenty piles per diem, and can work, perhaps, not three days in the week; drives its piles 8 feet apart, and has at least 3 miles to pile. You can see, then, how slowly we can obstruct the channels with but one pile-driver. I can procure three others - one in a day or two and two in a week or two.
We want also a steam dredging-machine, to fix our floating batteries in the marshes. That I can procure here. We want a number of decked lighters and barges, on which to transport and mount heavy guns in the marshes and to use as "camels" for the pile-drivers. We want also large transport boats and steam-tugs, to throw infantry and artillery across wide channels from the island to the beaches on the main. We want ammunition and men. In a word, almost every preparations has to be made. To make them, and to do the least that is necessary I ask, in the emergency, for plenary power, to order what is necessary and to procure what I cant get without the delay of observing forms and without making special requisitions for every want. Delay is defeat now at Roanoke Island, and with present means Captain Lynch and I combined cannot guarantee tee successful defense for a day. I beg, sir, that you will urge this upon the Navy Department, and believe that I am not superserviceable in this urgency.
With the highest respect, you obedient servant,
HENRY A. WISE,
At this time the First Regiment of Infantry of my Legion arrived in Norfolk, numbering nine companies, averaging about 45 men, making a total about 405 privates; and on the 16th I issued to Colonel Richardson, of that regiment, the special order of which the following is a copy:
NORFOLK, VA., No. 16.
January 16, 1862.
Colonel Richardson, of the First Regiment of Infantry, Wise Legion, having reported the arrival of his regiment in Norfolk, he will proceed, as early as practicable, by the way of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, to transport his troops to Roanoke Island, N. C. To that end, before moving, he will see that thirty days' rations for at least 1,000 men are forwarded for the Legion and placed in charge of A. Kinney, acting commissary, in the place of Major William H. Thomas, during the absence of the latter; he will see that no provisions are drawn from the commissary of the Legion for more than his actual force, as reported by the morning and hospital returns; he will see the ordnance officer at Norfolk, and ascertain the amount of ammunition and ordnance stores in depot there or at Portsmouth for the Legion, and he will detail some one competent officer to take charge thereof, as acting ordnance officer of the Legion, who will act until further orders, and have the same conveyed to the post at Roanoke Island under guard of Colonel Richardson's command, on its way there, and there put it in a magazine; he will also see the quartermaster at Norfolk, and ascertain whether the means of transportation have been provided, seeking information from Marshal Parks, the president of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal, as to the capacity and comfort of his steams-tugs and barges for transportation, and seeing that they are sufficiently heated and ventilated, and when he arrives at Roanoke Island he will report to Colonel Hill Shaw, commanding, &c.; and if sufficient quarters are not in readiness on the island for his troops, he will land his men at the wharf of Nag's Head, on the beach opposite the north and of the island, and take quarters in the cabins and cottages there erected, occupying such as may be pointed out by the proprietor, Mr. Happer; he will take command there until further orders as of a separate post for the Legion, and as the east and central portions of the beach can be shelled by the enemy from the sea-side, he will, as far as practicable, occupy the west side of the beach next the Roanoke Channel or Sound; he will at once establish the strictest discipline of drill, guard, and vedette duty, keeping a vigilant lookout as far down as Oregon Inlet, and as high up