War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0164 OPERATIONS IN NORTH CAROLINA. Chapter XX.

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FEBRUARY 28, 1862.

Having forwarded my remaining troops to Norfolk for transportation to Manassas I arrived at home the 26th instant and yesterday received from the Secretary of War the following:


Richmond, Va., February 23, 1862.

Brigadier General HENRY A. WISE, Norfolk, Va.:

SIR: I am in receipt of your letter of the 19th instant, forwarded by General Huger, as well as of a duplicate sent directly to this Department. I have no objection to answering your inquiries in relation to Special Orders, Numbers 40.

The recent disaster at Roanoke Island, having completely broken up the organization of your Legion, left you without a command sufficient to justify your retaining the office of brigadier-general, the act of Congress having provided that the officer should hold his rank only white his brigade is in service. (Section 6, Act of March 6, 1862.)

General Huger notified the Department that in the organization of the brigades of his department you were supernumerary. General Joseph E. Johnston was urgent with the President to send him additional general officers. Your Legion was reduced to a few companies of infantry, two companies of artillery, and an incomplete regiment of cavalry, not sufficient for an independent command. Under these circumstances the President deemed it advisable that the remainder of your Legion should be sent to the Army of the Potomac, in order to replace a regiment of North Carolina Cavalry, under Colonel Ransom, which it was thought proper to send into North Carolina, and to order you to the same army, in order that General Johnston might assign to you the command of a brigade, thus enabling the President to retain you in the service without loss of rank in the only manner allowed by law.

In regard to your application for a short leave of absence, on the grounds stated in your letter, the Department willingly accords you a leave of twenty days as it is not believed that during the interval any active operations will occur in the Army of the Potomac.

I am, your obedient servant,


Secretary of War.

In reply to the foregoing letter, permit me to say that by the recent disaster at Roanoke Island the organization of my Legion was not completely broken up. It was reduced to three companies of the First Regiment of Infantry, under Colonel Richardson, two under Colonel Tyler, two under Lieutenant-Colonel Green (not captured), Captain Lowry's company, which had been attached to the artillery (now a full company), and to the fragments of companies-men who escaped from Roanoke Island, about 70 men, now organized-making in all the equivalent of nine companies of infantry; to two companies of artillery, with five pieces; and to nine companies of cavalry; in all, twenty companies, numbering at least 1,000 men. Besides these there are two companies of infantry still at Lewisburg belonging to my Second Regiment; nineteen companies captured at Roanoke Island, soon to be exchanged, I hope, and my Third Regiment of Infantry, ten companies, which I still claim to be restored to me from South Carolina.

With this force, which can easily be put at once, or soon, under my command, I cannot consent that my Legion is completely disorganized; and especially I insist upon this, when I refer to my first appointment to a brigade. I was commissioned after the act of March 6 was passed, and then had not a single company of the Legion mustered into service. But it may be said that I was assigned to the command of a district. True, but the entire number of volunteers under Colonel Tompkins did not number 1,000, the force I now have. If, then, my brigade might exist at first, before a sufficient number was raised for an independent command, I cannot see why it may not continue now, with many more forces than I had at first, and when, too, the Department may speedily