My artillery consists of four light pieces, insufficient, both in range and caliber, to defend the rivers against the heavily-armed gunboats of the enemy. An order received from you stopped the march of two companies of cavalry of Wise's Legion, who were at Garysburg, N. C., and were about moving to re-enforce me. I have detained Lieutenant Tucker, who was ordered to proceed to Manassas, until you could be informed of the indispensable necessity of his remaining with me until some other cavalry force should relieve him. My only means of obtaining information and keeping up communication is by means of vedettes, and these should be men that have seen service, that I may not be misled by erroneous reports. Instead of depriving me of cavalry my force should be strengthened, for if ten times as strong it would not be sufficient for the service necessary in the territory committed otherwise would most probably have fallen into the hands of the enemy.
Permit me to inform you that my command embraces a highly productive tract of country, which now contains provisions sufficient to subsist the whole Army of the Confederate States for at least half a year, and it is of the first importance that it should not be ravaged by the enemy. The white population is sparse, and they hae been so long neglected that they are perfectly demoralized. An exhibition of force, which I made a few days ago, has been of inestimable value in inspiring our people with confidence and in intimidating our foes.
I expect to be able to obstruct this (the Meherrin) river effectually by the time this reaches you, and with two 18-pounders and two 24s or 32s I could destroy and vessels that should attempt to come up to this place and at the same time effectually protect the bridge of the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad over this river.
With two more regiments of infantry and 500 cavalry, in addition to the forces now present, I could keep the enemy from advancing inland in my department.
I beg that you will countermand the order removing Wise's cavalry and that the whole battalion will be ordered here, and also artillery and experienced artillerists.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. J. CLARKE,
Colonel, Commanding Fifth Brigade, Huger's Division.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA,
Goldsborough, February 27, 1862.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: I received last night the following telegram from the Secretary of War, viz:
Send a statement as promptly as possible of your forces, their disposition, and your men as and plans of defense.
I inclose herewith an imperfect return of the troops within the department.* It may answer for present purposes, but I hope to be able to forward a more complete one in a few days.
For a detailed report of the defenses of the Cape Fear District, the