allowed for reading reports while the war is pressing on us renders it peculiarly necessary to adhere to the rule that a military report is to be a succinct statement of facts. All copies of letters, orders, documents, &c., supposed to be necessary for rendering it intelligible, may be presented in a separate paper or papers as inclosures.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War.
ROLLISTON, NEAR NORFOLK, VA.,
March 17, 1862.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN, Secretary of War:
SIR: Yours of the 14th instant was received late last night. I immediately addressed to General Huger a report and requested him to forward it to you, with the original reports of the surrender of Roanoke Island. I had made reports previously to him, but they preceded the reports of Colonel Shaw to me. These he may not have regarded as full, and copies have been sent to the Department in mine of the 21st ultimo, sending a detailed report of the causes of the disaster at Roanoke Island. I regret the errors on my part of sending copies instead of originals, and of reporting directly to the Department instead of through General Huger. They were unintentional, as you do me the justice to suppose. I thought the originals addressed to me were mine, and that as I had been ordered form the department of General Huger I was no longer required to report to him. I meant no disrespect to him, and especially regret that what I intended as dispatch should have caused delay from mere informality. I trust my report now will conform to your instructions. I forwarded my report to General Huger last night immediately on reception of your orders.
In my communication of 21st February I intended to give a detailed account of the causes of the surrender of Roanoke Island. I endeavored to do so in the shortest way and in a way to insure the reading of the report. To have given a history first and to have appended the vouchers, for the statements, would have increased the volume of the communication. I beg you to remember that I am demanding a court of inquiry, and that I could do no less than state the reasons, and the shortest and fairest possible mode was to state them in the language and order of official correspondence. Besides this, Congress is calling upon all for information, and I deemed it my duty to furnish the fullest in my possession. The mere delay of reading the reports of facts could not excuse the delay or the denial of justice to officials involved in a question of doubt as to their discharge of important duties. The committee of the House of Representatives has called on me for answers to certain interrogatories, and I have requested them to call for this report of the 21st February and that of the 5th March to the Department. You say that you have sent that of the 21st ultimo to General Huger "for his remarks." In case he makes any remarks upon it, I beg to be furnished with a copy of them.
In yours to me of the 23rd February you say "General Huger notified the Department that in the organization of the brigades of his department you were supernumerary," &c. I ask for a copy of that notification by General Huger. I ask also that you will order him to furnish me with copies of his orders to Colonel Wright and others of his subordinates touching my command of the district assigned to me east of