War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0161 Chapter XX. BATTLE OF ROANOKE ISLAND, N. C.

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GREAT BRIDGE, NORFOLK COUNTY, VA.,

February 19, 1862-5 p.m..

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

SIR: I was within the current hour surprised by the following order:

SPECIAL ORDERS,

ADJUTANT AND INSPECTOR-GENL'S OFFICE, Numbers 40.

Richmond, Va., February 18, 1862.

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"XVIII, Brigadier-General Wise, with the Legion under his present command, exclusive of the eight battery companies, will proceed, with the least practicable delay, to Manassas and report to General Joseph E. Johnston, commanding the Department of Northern Virginia.

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"By command of the Secretary of War:

"JNO WITHERS,

"Assistant Adjutant-General."

It is not for me to murmur at any military order commanding my prompt obedience. I am bound to regard it as not meant to do me any injustice and to obey it implicitly; but I trust that under the circumstances of my case and my command I may be allowed a little reasonable time to make arrangements and inquiries necessary to be made under so sudden and unexpected an order.

1st. My men cannot properly be moved to Manassas until they are provided with clothes, blankets, and outfits generally, of which many were wholly deprived by the late disaster at Roanoke Island.

2nd. I require some short time to prepare a full report of my command in the district assigned to me in North Carolina attached to your department.

3rd. I desire a few days of time to attend to my private family affairs.

4th. I beg time to require of the War Department its purpose in respect to my Legion, and respectfully to protest against detaching the companies of the light batteries. The remnant of the Legion, without these companies, is so small, that it will be inefficient as a distinct force. I wish also to inquire whether by present command the Department means to include the men only whom I have with me here at the the Great Bridge, excluding my men to be exchanged as prisoners and my cavalry.

5th. I wish respectfully to inquire whether this order, weakening your defenses in the rear of Norfolk, meets with your approbation, or has been issued at your instance or with your cognizance and to inquire of the Department whether any censure upon my command here is intended by this order.

With great labor and sacrifice I raised the Legion to 2,850 men, and left 2,400 efficient men at Camp Defiance when my command in the West was transferred to General Floyd. I had the repeated promises of the President and of the Secretary of War to have my Legion restored to me, all except the companies raised in Western Virginia, which were desirous of remaining to defend their homes; but four companies elected to remain in the West. Six were ordered to be left there and ten were taken from both the Legion and from the West, where they were wanting, and sent to South Carolina. Less than 900 men, 750 infantry and 100 artillery, have been forwarded to me. My cavalry has been sent to Garysburg, N. C., and has just been ordered by me to this district. Several of my companies have been left in the West and not furnished with transportation, and nineteen of my companies have been captured and are now prisoners of war. I left nine pieces of light artillery in the West. Four were taken from me, with the express promise of General Lee and the Department that they or their equivalent should be restored to me in the East, and now, if it be the design of this order to take from me all my companies and pieces of artillery, I desire to be so informed distinctly, in order that I may understanding determine upon the course which self-respect demands of me to pursue.

With the request that you will forward this communication to the War Department, I am, most respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY A. WISE,

Brigadier-General.

GREAT BRIDGE, NORFOLK COUNTY, VA.,

February 19, 1862.

His Excellency J. P. BENJAMIN,

Secretary of War:

SIR: The foregoing letter, addressed to General Huger, touching your Special Orders, Numbers 40, Extract XVIII, 18th instant, I have, as you see, requested time to forward to the War Department for information upon certain points and for answers to certain

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