HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE PAMLICO,
Washington, N. C., April 26, 1863.
Major General J. G. FOSTER,
Commanding Eighteenth Army Corps, Dept. of N. C.:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 21st instant* was received by me on the 22nd. You say:
The siege of Washington being raised, my duty to our country, to yourself, and to myself requires some explanation of past events.
I will endeavor to answer seriatim the queries which follow this passage satisfactory to our country, to yourself, and to myself.
The passage which I will first consider is as follows:
Learning that an attack was to be made on Washington, I left on March 29 for that place and arrived there on the 30th. April 1, I wrote to General Palmer suggesting three ways of raising the siege and expressing my preference for the first, which was to land a strong force at a point below Hill's Point Battery, take that battery in reverse, march up in rear of Rodman's Point, and join me at Washington Bridge. What effort, if any, was made to carry out my orders as above quoted? Was any reconnaissance made by your order for the purpose of learning the strength and position of the enemy, on the result of which you reported to me that it was impracticable to land and take the batteries?
On the 1st day of April the following letter from General Palmer, commanding the department in your absence, was received by me:
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
New Berne, April 1, 1863.
Brigadier-General PRINCE, New Berne, N. C.:
GENERAL: Information is just received from General Foster from Washington, N. C., that that place is about to be attacked by the enemy in force. There re-enforcements under General Spinola have or been able to get to Washington, as the rebels have established a battery at Hill's Point, near the blockade below that duty. General Foster had directed that you proceed immediately to that vicinity to take such measures for the reducing of this battery as your good judgment may dictate, and you will get the re-enforcements to their destination if possible.
The gunboats from here are ordered to proceed immediately to that point and they will be under way in an hour or two. The steamer North Shore will be placed at your disposition. She takes a supply of ammunition for 32-pounder and Wiard guns with her. The gunboats from Plymouth have also been sent for, and they will be down as soon as possible.
I send you the letter of General Foster for your information.
General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. N. PALMER,
With the above came a letter from General Potter, of which the following is a copy:
WASHINGTON, N. C., March 31, 1863-12 m.
Brigadier-General PALMER, Commanding:
GENERAL: The rebels are about to attack us in strong force. They sent in a flag of truce this morning for the purpose of having the women and children removed. The flag was not received. The regiments and battery that were to follow us have not arrived; cause supposed to be the fire from a battery which the rebels have planted at Hill's Point where they formerly had once. We can hold out for two or three days. General Foster wishes you to send up at once all the gunboats that can be spared, and, if possible, 400 rounds of 32-pounder shot and shell, and 200 rounds of 12-pounder Wiards. He also wishes either yourself or General Price to come up and to act according to your own discretion in attacking the battery at Hill's Point.
If the gunboats cannot succeed in silencing the battery in question it will rest with you our General Prince to decide as to the advisability of landing your infantry and flanking the battery.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
EDWARD E. POTTER,
Chief of Staff.
*The only copy of this letter is in letterpress-book, and is illegible.