War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0230 NORTH CAROLINA AND S. E. VIRGINIA. Chapter XXX.

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And on the same day I endeavored to express myself better and more clearly in a communication to your headquarters, a copy of which I sent through the barricade to you, which is as follows:

NEW BERNE, April 3, 1863.

Lieutenant-Colonel HOFFMAN:

COLONEL: The above sketch (for correction of which I refer to the map of North Carolina by Topographical Bureau) is to indicate the relative situation of points referred to in the following statement: General Foster, with two regiments, a company of cavalry, and a company of artillery (1,200 men), and three gunboats is at Washington. He is invested on the north side of the river by the brigades of Pettigrew and Garnett, as he states in his letter to General Prince of April 2, 1863. On the south side is D. H. Hill with two brigades, according to General Foster's information, same letter; but other information, to which he probably has not access, indicates a stronger force.

The enemy have at Rodman's Point a battery with which they are destroying the gunboats. At Hill's Point the enemy have a fine battery of six or eight guns. A barricade formerly constructed by the enemy extends from Hill's Point to Swan Point; the barricade consists of a double row of piles cut off 2 feet under water. Instead of destroying the barricade our vessels made a passage through it 60 feet wide, and marked the passage with buoys. The enemy having removed the buoys, it is not possible in the expanse of the river to know where the passage is running. The battery therefore perfects the blockade and also the investment of the small force of ours at Washington.

Having been up myself to the front of the Hill's Point Battery and felt it with some small gunboats, and having reconnoitered the shore there and obtained carefully sifted information, I can add something to the above statement.

Blount's Creek has a long bridge where the road crosses, and is impassable below. The bridge is partly removable, and at it is a force 1,000 strong of the enemy ever since these operations commenced. Above the bridge the swamp is impassable. In reconnoitering the shores of Blount's Bay I found the enemy's pickets of infantry on its west shore, all along, and infantry and cavalry on its east shore. This shows the enemy to be on the alert there; and having seen lying there transports filled with troops two nights and a day before I arrived there they are in anticipation of a landing. The enemy therefore on the south side of the river are in force to defend the Hill's Point Battery.

It is believed by me from my reconnaissance that the nature of the position west of Blunt's Creek does not admit of the gunboats rendering any assistance to troops that have landed save while they are on the immediate shore; the entire bank is high, rugged, and wooded. Any force landed there places itself at once in a state of siege from which there is no retiring excepting under most adverse circumstances. A march upon the shore itself would expose the troops to a fire from the bluff which they could not fairly return.

As I am about to return to the position I shall use all the means I can to obtain further knowledge of the enemy, and if an opportunity to land occurs I shall do it. Up to this time since the first arrival of the troops near Blount's Bay the night wind and low water would have prevented any descent before as well as after my arrival. If anything can be done by the combined forces of army and navy assembled at the barricade you may be assured that no pains will be spared to do it.

It is understood at the headquarters of the Eighteenth Army Corps that the enemy's regiments in this region are full, and it is not unlikely that two brigades of D. H. Hill's command number ten regiments.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

HENRY PRINCE,

Brigadier-General, Volunteers.

I returned to Blount's Bay the next day. In the trip I had seen the Southfield and two other gunboats from Plymouth on their way to Blount's Bay, where they arrived before me, and I left the Hunchback, from New Berne, detained by the weather in the mouth of the Neuse. The passage of the Sound was rendered very difficult, and was constantly being interrupted during the most of the time I was up in the Pamlico River by the high wind. The first re-enforcements arrived on the 5th. There were then in all 2,500 men there; clearly not enough to attempt the operation of forcing the crossing of Blount's Creek, which cannot be more correctly described now that our troops have it in possession than it was by me then.