tremendous issue involved makes it necessary that a more able brain than mine should direct. Please, therefore, my dear General, come and straighten out this tangled yarn.
Since writing the above your telegram is received.* I can drive the enemy out of New Berne, because I can transport the troops by rail; but their main army is below, and I can only reach it by crossing the Trent high up and marching down, which can only be done after I have collected transportation enough to carry provisions. See the sketch I sent you two days ago. I am making every effort to procure transportation, but my quartermaster wants experience and is inefficient. Please send me Major Cone or some other who knows and will do his duty. If you think I can attack New Berne without the fear of being out of place when another point is attack I will do so at once, though from the best evidence I have there are not more than 4,000 men there, and they can retire beyond the Trent without my being able to follow.
The people here are to a certain extent reassured. They are loyal and true-hearted, but a deep and dangerous despondency, even among the members of the Convention, had taken possession of them, and hence the great necessity of some able man to command here, for if this army should meet with a reverse the political consequences would be disastrous in the extreme. If you cannot come and G. W. Smith's health will permit it, please send him. I will assist him in every way possible, and will be pleased to serve under him if he is a good general.
I am, General, yours, very respectfully,
TH. H. HOLMES,
HEADQUARTERS, Richmond, Va., March 29, 1862.
Major General T. H. HOLMES,
Commanding, &c., Goldsborough, N. C.:
GENERAL: I am directed by General Lee, commanding, to acknowledge the receipt at these headquarters of the letter of General French of March 18, 1862, from Kinston, N. C., forwarded by and inclosed in one of the 25th instant from General Anderson, in reference to the disposition of the forces at Goldsborough and Wilmington, copies of which are doubtless in your possession; also of your two telegram of the 27th instant.*
In reply the General wishes me to say that it now rests with you to assume such a line with your army as may to your judgment appear best for the protection of the railroad and the security of Goldsborough and Wilmington; and should there be no indications to lead you to infer that the enemy intend to threaten seriously either of those places, you should so dispose your command as to re-enforce Suffolk, as it is not unlikely the enemy may turn their attention to that point, with a view of carrying out a combined movements and divining his intentions. Circumstances must, however, in some measure control your actions.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. A. WASHINGTON,
Major and Assistant Adjutant-General.