side will have New Berne this week. If he has become fairly engaged in the movement I would not stop him.
GEO. B. McCLELLAN,
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Washington, March 15, 1862.
Brigadier General AMBROSE E. BURNSIDE,
U. S. Volunteers, Commanding, &c., Roanoke Island, N. C.:
SIR: On Sunday last the iron-clad steamer Merrimac, called by the rebels the Virginia, ran out from Norfolk, attacked our blockading squadron, destroyed two frigates and two gunboats. She was subsequently beaten back in a severe battle with our steamer Monitor, and has not since attempted to come out.
The rebel army has retreated from Winchester and Manassas, and retired, without fighting a battle, beyond the Rappahannock. The batteries on the Potomac have also been abandoned. These movements were made evidently in great haste, as they left behind pieces of artillery and other stores which they had no time to destroy.
The President's Order, Numbers 3, herewith inclosed,* relieves Major-General McClellan from the command of the army, and confines him to the Army of the Potomac. The Secretary of War directs that you make your reports and returns to him. He also directs that you forward dispatches to him on the return of the dispatch vessel, and permit no officer to detain her on any pretext whatever.
I inclose herewith a copy of a dispatch from Major-General McClellan, dated the 13th instant.+
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF PAMLICO,
March 15, 1862.
OFFICER COMMANDING U. S. FORCES AT NEW BERNE:
SIR: Lieutenant-Colonel Crossan, who bears this flag of truce, is instructed to propose to you on my behalf a cessation of hostilities, so far as he and the men under his command are concerned, for such length of time as may be necessary to enable him to have interred the bodies of those of my command who were killed in the action of yesterday.++
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
L. O'B. BRANCH,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF NORTH CAROLINA, Numbers 51.
New Berne, March 15, 1862.
* * * * *
4. Brigadier General J. G. Foster is hereby appointed military governor of
*See Series I, Vol. V, p. 54.
+See inclosure to Stanton to Burnside, March 13, 1862, p. 370.
++Answer, if any, not found.