The Department ordered Colonel Green on, but his arrival at Roanoke Island was on the morning of February 8, while the action was raging, in which his battalion of five companies, about 450 men, were not engaged at all, but they arrived quite in time to be captured. Thus by this interruption I was deprived of this re-enforcement. My Second Regiment, but eight companies (about 350 men), was not forwarded from Norfolk until the evening of January 25, and arrived at Nag's Head on January 27.
On January 26, at home, I received from the Secretary of War a letter, dated January 23, of which the following is a copy:
CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA, WAR DEPARTMENT, Richmond, Va., January 23, 1862.
Brigadier General HENRY A. WISE, Norfolk, Va.:
SIR: I have your letter of yesterday, giving me information of your intended immediate departure for Roanoke Island. The terms of your letter imply the idea that you consider the orders as being in some way a reflection on your absence from that post at this time. I write therefore to say, as due to you, that nothing was further from my thoughts. I knew you to be here on useful public service connected with your command, and my order only issued because of receipt of information that an immediate attack was threatened on your post; and I will knew that in such case you would feel grateful for being allowed the opportunity of assuming your command and would be much mortified if accidentally absent. I will take pleasure in attending to your requests and help you to the best of my ability.
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War.
I immediately replied by letter of which the following is a copy:
ROLLISTON, NEAR NORFOLK, January 26, 1862.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
SIR: I express to you gratefully my acknowledgments for yours of the 23rd instant. Your orders to be at my post in the hour of apprehended danger was very proper, yet it relives my absence from reproach to have it said that I hastened away from it only to return as speedily as possible with the means of its defense. The weather has delayed here the transportation of my Second Regiment of Infantry. They started yesterday for Roanoke Island, and I depart to-morrow, if a steam tug, through the canal, can be found. You, I am certain, would have me succeeded triumphantly in my duties, and will excuse even eager, as well as anxious, appeals for the means of victory.
Wherever the Burnside expedition may be, the forces of the enemy already in the Hatteras Inlet are sufficient to overwhelm the present forces and means of defense.
I avail myself of your kindness in attending to my requests and helping me to the best of your ability, by asking that you will order commissions to be issued to the following officers: Major C. B. Duffield, of cavalry; Ordnance James H. Pearce; Assist. Inspector-General H. Dugan; Adjutant (of the First Regiment of Infantry) Henry A. Wise, jr., and Second Lieuts.(in the Engineer Corps, Artillery) T. C. Kinney, C. Ellis Munford, and R. A. Wise, &c.
Please order the forces of my Legion under Colonel Green, at Wilmington, N. C., and the two companies at Staunton, assigned to the command of Colonel N. Tyler, to be forwarded to me, and order my artillery corps at Richmond to be furnished with guns, carriages, and caissons, and forwarded. I beg you also to order back to me the Third Regiment of Infantry taken from my command.
With the highest respect, your obedient servant,
HENRY A. WISE,
On January 28 I addressed to the Secretary of War a letter informing him that at last I had procured transportation to Roanoke Island; that I would leave that evening at 4 p.m.., and begging him to forward my artillery corps and pieces.
I had gone to Norfolk on Monday (the 27th) to start for the island.