War of the Rebellion: Serial 009 Page 0189 Chapter XX. BATTLE OF ROANOKE ISLAND, N. C.

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an express from Colonel Shaw (who was then in the immediate temporary command of the island) to General Huger, informing him of the defenseless state of the island, and urging the necessity of strengthening Fort Bartow, by mounting other guns, obstructing Croatan Sound, and making requisitions for ammunition, pile-driver, and other things necessary. General Wise indorsed and approved of the requisition and seconded the demands of Colonel Shaw. General Wise arrived at Roanoke Island upon the 6th and assumed the command at that post upon January 7. After making a reconnaissance of the island and its defenses General Wise, on January 13, informed General Huger-

that Roanoke Island was in a defenseless condition and in presence of a very formidable enemy's force. The Burnside expedition is reported to have sailed. Independent of that, the force now at Hatteras Inlet can pass or take Roanoke Island, and pardon me for saying that I respectfully differ from the opinion you expressed in your orders to-day, that to present the enemy's gunboats from passing the marshes at the south end will also prevent any landing. Batteries at the marshes are vitally essential to prevent the gunboats from passing into Croaton Sound, but they will not prevent

the landing on the south or east end of the island. At least 3,000 infantry are needed on the island, and a considerable force, say 1,500 men, are needed on the beaches, and if the enemy pass Roanoke, 5,000 at least are necessary to fight them on the tongue of at least eight field pieces and the carriages and caissons necessary. We require thirty-two horses for the artillery. We need at least six heavy pieces at the south end marshes and two at least at Fleetwood Point.

On the same day General Wise addressed the Secretary of War, in which he says that-

it is very important that my Legion should be forwarded as speedily as possible. The defense of Roanoke Island (which is the key of all the rear defenses of Norfolk and its canals and railroads) is committed to my charge, and I have just returned from a reconnaissance of that point. It is now utterly defenseless. No preparations have been made there at all adequate. General Huger has given me a large authority to do whatever is necessary, and has advised what he deems proper in my command; but we have very limited means, and not half time enough to prepare to meet an enemy, who is now in almost immediate presence in very formidable force. Twice the number of my Legion is necessary, and I beg that the place of my Third Regiment may speedily be filled or that it may be restored.

On January 15, 1862, General Wise writes to the Secretary of War:

I am sure you will not adjudge me importunate when I inform you that I returned from Roanoke Island to Norfolk last Saturday. I hasten back after a short reconnaissance to apprise headquarters and the Department that there are no defenses there; no adequate preparations whatever to meet the enemy, and to forward all the means in my reach as speedily as possible, to make the key of all the rear of Norfolk, with its canals and railroads, safe. Inside of Hatteras Inlet I found twenty-four vessels of light draught, eight of which are steamers said to carry four guns each. They are at farthest but 30 miles from Roanoke Island, and can reach there any four hours or less, to attack five small gunboats under Captain Lynch, and four small land batteries, wholly inefficient. Any boat drawing 7 feet water or less can pass the Croatan Sound at far off as 1 1/4 miles from any battery, and the enemy's guns can silence our batteries there in a very short time. Neither battery is casemated, and our men now there are untrained to heavy pieces mounted on navy carriages. The moment the enemy passes Croatan Channel, the North Landing River, North River, Pasquotank, Chowan, Roanoke, Alligator, and Scuppernong Rivers, and the Dismal Swamp, and Albemarle, and Chesapeake Canals will be blockaded effectually, and Norfolk and Portsmouth will be cut off from supplies of corn, pork, and forage. The force at Hatteras is independent of the Burnside expedition. No matter where the latter is, the former is amply sufficient to capture or pass Roanoke Island in any twelve hours. Let me say, then, sir, that if we are to wait for powder from Richmond until we are attacked at that island, that attack will be capture and our defeat will precede our supply of ammunition. The case is too urgent for me to delay speaking this out plainly at once.

And in another part of the same letter he says:

We want ammunition and men. In a word, almost every preparation has to be made. Delay is defeat now at Roanoke Island, and with present means Captain Lynch