make his arrangements without our being able to obtain any information as to his designs or movements, he may at any movement make a sudden attack upon either Charleston or Savannah.
It will require all the ability for disposition of troops and engineering skill of our generals there to thwart his purposes and defend that portion of our extended coast.
The North Carolina troops could only be withdrawn by the substitution of others, and this change would necessarily, to a greater or less degree, disorganize for a time that portion of our line from which they are drawn and add to the burden of our overtaxed railroad transportation.
The defense of North Carolina occupies my serious attention, and I am sending there all the aid at my disposal. General Randolph has been sent to protect the railroad which connects Weldon with Norfolk, with orders to assemble the troops for this purpose at points on the road convenient for concentration at any point which may be threatened.
It may not be possible, with our limited means, to protect every point which the enemy can attack by means of his fleets, but every effort will be made to hold those positions which are of vital interest to the State and to our common cause.
Our ability to defend is limited by the supply of arms, powder, and other munitions of war. Efforts were made, as you are no doubt aware, at an early period of our troubles, to purchase arms from abroad. Some have been received from this source and we have hopes of more.
I have received no official reports of the disastrous affair at Roanoke Island. The newspaper accounts indicate that the greater portion of our men there behaved very badly. I will wait for more accurate and full reports before forming a judgment as to the cause of our signal defeat.
When the island was first occupied by our troops after the fall of Hatteras, realizing the importance of the position to us, I sent one of my aides-de-camp to make a personal examination of its condition and capabilities for defense. From his report I concluded that the condition of affairs was such as to justify a reasonable hope of successful resistance to any force the enemy could then bring to bear against it, and capable, with proper dispositions and energetic efforts in preparation, of making a creditable, if not successful, defense against any force that would be prepared for the purpose. To this end it was attached to the department of General Huger. After it became probable that the expedition under Burnside would attack this position General Huger was directed to re-enforce it to the extent of his means.
I am not sufficiently informed as to what was done after the inspection of my aide to enable me to say whether the preparation was defective or whether the fault was in the troops.
Very respectfully, and truly, yours,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA,
Goldsborough, February 20, 1862.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General C. S. Army, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: On the 15th instant I sent my aide-de-camp to Weldon to ascertain what troops in that vicinity other than those sent