HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA,
August 17, 1862.
General H. W. HALLECK,
Commander-in-Chief U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that generally everything is quiet in this department. The reconnaissance now out in the direction of Wilmington, with orders to destroy the salt-works on the coast, has been much delayed in its operations by the northerly winds that have prevailed since Friday last. I have no fears for its safety or the success of its operations.
Recruits are arriving rapidly for the regiments now here (seven and one-half of infantry, one of artillery, one of marine artillery, and one of cavalry). I have organized and horsed four field batteries from the artillery regiment (the Third New York Artillery), and these, with those previously here, make seven field batteries (two of six pieces each, three of four pieces each, and two of three pieces each). I am drilling these batteries constantly to make them efficient, with the view of making an artillery fight in case it becomes necessary to advance up the country with a small force of infantry. I am aware to advance up the country with a small force of infantry. I am aware of the infantry force between here and Goldsborough (eight regiments of infantry) and of the light artillery force (three field batteries), and am confident that I can advance at any time that the General-in-Chief commands and whip these two arms of the rebel force. I will also venture to advance and destroy the railroad as near Raleigh as I can go with my force.
In any case of an advance I shall not expect to occupy the places that I capture up the country, but rather to have for an object to destroy the railroad bridges, &c., so as to cut off the communication of the army at Richmond with the South.
At most the force that I could take with me and leave everything safe at New Berne would be 5,000 men. If it be desired by the General Commanding that an attack be made on the works at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and those works taken, I shall require that my force be increased by seven regiments of infantry.
I beg leave respectfully to ask that this be done at any rate, because I am confident that I can employ my division to so good purpose as to keep employed much more than an equal number of the enemy.
Captain Williamson, of the Topographical Engineers, and Lieutenant Flagler, of the Ordnance Corps, having been relieved from duty here to report at General Burnside's headquarters, I am left without any regular officers in those departments. I would respectfully ask that officers from both those corps or from the Engineers be sent to replace them.
Although the sickly season will continue for a month, and thus disable m any otherwise effective men, I shall stand ready at any moment to make any movement or diversion that the Commander-in-Chief may order or consider necessary to divert attention from the more important operations against the army in front of Richmond.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,