But the class of gunboats that were expected to affect the battery did not arrive till the 5th April.
In another addressed to me you said that after the Hill's Point Battery was taken the troops ought to re-embark in order to proceed to the Rodman's Point Battery on transports.
The letter of General Potter, chief of your staff, says:
He (General Foster) also wishes either yourself or General Prince 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 or General Prince to decide as to the advisability of landing your infantry and flanking the battery.
Thus I have shown most clearly that it rested solely on my judgment and responsibility to decide whether the landing of troops near the Hill's Point Battery should be made, and I shall proceed to show that I decided correctly.
D. H. Hill was known to be on the south side of the Pamlico River with at least two brigades of rebels. I derived this knowledge not only from you but from other sources of information. From your headquarters I learned that the rebel regiments about here were all full, each brigade consisting of five regiments, numbering, say, 45,000 men.
But as the Hill's Point Battery was the key of the whole investment it would be taking a short-sighted view of the generalship of the rebels to suppose that they could not concentrate all their force that was south of the river in its defense; and when we were nearest to being able to land, when we had in all 2,500 men at Blount's Bay, I knew, by ocular observation, that they were concentrated for the defense of that battery against a landing. The indications were conclusive. This is now rendered a demonstrated certainty by our troops having marched over the ground and witnessed their freshly-vacated camps there since the raising of the siege of Washington.
To land west of Blount's Creek would have been to place one's self where the formation of the shore line refused to permit the gunboats to render any assistance to the infantry landed. No point juts out upon which the gunboats might fire without firing over (that is, into) our troops. No place whatever can be named west of Blount's Creek below the battery where the gunboats could assist the retreat. The troops therefore would have to depend upon themselves and the intrenchments they might make after landing. From the mouth of Blount's Creek to Hill's Point Battery is 2 1/2 miles of shore line, forming a uniform and gentle curve of which Hill's Point is the culmination merely. The general level of the land along there is 40 feet above the river, the bank of which is bluff. A landing west of Blount's Creek would be on this curve of 2 1/2 miles in length. Inside of it lies encamped the supporting brigade of rebels-their pickets everywhere on the curve; their main body not over 2 miles distant from any part of it.
I will suppose that the other brigade south of the river is distributed at Blount's Creek Brigade, Swift Creek Village, Rodman's Point, the cross-roads, and a point between the cross-road and Swift Creek.
I will suppose that we could land 500 men in row-boats, stern-wheelers, &c., at a time. Let us see how the landing would proceed:
The transport full of troops draws as near to the shore as she can. She is then half a mile off (or she remains beyond the range of musketry, which would make the time longer). Each trip to land 500 takes twenty minutes, and, if no contingency prolongs it, the transfer of the whole to land takes one hour and two-thirds. Meantime the rebels have been called to arms by the fire of their pickets, and being not over