War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0163 Chapter XX. BATTLE OF ROANOKE ISLAND, N. C.

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I am thus (after obeying all orders to the letter and, without men or means being furnished at all adequate to meet an ordinary superior force, fighting for two days one of the most formidable expeditions ever fitted out on this continent, and giving my men, and more than my men, as martyrs to military law and obedience, and suffering, by sickness, care, and grief more pangs than bullets could inflict) left in an anomalous state of doubt whether I am censured or superseded or not, or am a commander without a command or not.

FEBRUARY 23, 1862.

To-day I received the following letter and order:


February 23, 1862.

Brigadier General HENRY A. WISE:

SIR: The general commanding has received your letter, addressed to him, acknowledging the receipt of special order, dated Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office, Richmond, February 18,1 862, (paragraph XVIII). As requested by you, it was immediately forwarded to the War Department.

The general has no reply to make to your letter. The order is imperative, and,being sent through him, it is duty to see that you obey it,and he directs, if you have not already made the necessary arrangements, that you call at once on the proper departments to provide transportation, &c., and give the necessary orders to move your troops to the point indicated.

The pieces of light artillery and the company or detachment serving them will remain at its present position, unless otherwise ordered by the War Department.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Assistant Adjutant-General.



Norfolk, Va., February 20, 1862.

Until further orders the following will be the arrangement and designation of the brigades of this department:

* * * * *

II. The Second Brigade, the country east of the Elizabeth River (South Branch), and extending southeast of the Dismal Swamp, in Virginia and North Carolina; headquarters Norfolk, Brigadier-General Mahone commanding.

By command of Major-General Huger:


Assistant Adjutant-General.

In reply I addressed to Asst. Adjt. General S. S. Anderson a letter of which the following is a copy:

GREAT BRIDGE, VA., February 23, 1862-1 p.m..

S. S. ANDERSON, Assistant Adjutant-General:

I have just received yours of this day. Please say to the general commanding that I have drawn from his silence in declining to reply to my letter the only inferences which seen to me fair and logical, and I shall immediately demand a court of inquiry upon the defense of Roanoke Island and his conduct of them as well as mine.*

I have obeyed the imperative order of the War Department, and turned the command of this post and that of the light battery of my Legion over to Brigadier General William Mahone.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,




*This was forwarded by Major-General Huger with the following indorsement:

"Respectfully forwarded for the information of the Secretary of War. Brigadier-General Wise has the right to ask a court of inquiry on himself, but I am not aware of his right to ask the favor for me."