2 miles distant they are at the landing place in an hour after the landing begins and besiege it before the landing is complete. The two principles, without the observance of which the operations should not be attempted, are, first, a secure retreat, and, second, some prospect of taking the battery. Any one can decide the question.
I should have been willing with 5,000 troops, having assured myself of your clearly expressed approbation of doing so, as my letters already quoted show, to have attempted what I have described, because I think our soldiers, with a superior morale arising from the holiness of their cause, are superior in battle to the rebel rank and file, more steady and preserving, more coolly determined on retaining a reserve of energy and a few unwasted cartridges for final exhibition, and to sweep the field.
To land east of Blount's Creek would have been safe and under the cover of the gunboats; but then there would have been between the column and the battery the obstacle of an unfordable creek, watchfully guarded, with a single bridge partly removable and occupied in force. It is evident that 2,500 men would not have forced the crossing of Blount's Creek if they had landed on the east side of it and remained department, all the infantry, cavalry, and artillery that could be marched from New Berne, in precise total 6,400 m en, went there on the 9th of April, and after experimenting on it marched back to New Berne again with their killed and wounded, because they could not force it without a too great cost of men. As landing or marching there would have brought the forces to the same identical place, it is therefore demonstrated that my judgment was correct in pronouncing it to be out of the question to get on the flank or rear of Hill's Point Battery by landing east of Blount's Creek, for there is no way of turning Blount's Creek, as a swamp at the head of it, beginning at the bridge, covers an area 10 miles long and 6 miles wide, and the only pocoson road through it is impassable.
Landing east or west, as I wrote to you, out of the question, then, with my forces. I sincerely hope I have rendered it as plain to the country and to yourself as it has long been to me.
The next paragraph of your letter is as follows:
Nothing being done on the Pamlico River in accordance with my plan Numbers 1, I wrote on the 5th of April ordering you to take command of all the available forces and march across the country to Washington. Why did you not go in command?
This question is answered, I think, fully in my reports to your headquarters of April 13, 1863, rendered for the purpose of answering it. If you will suggest any deficiency in the explanation as there given I will supply it with pleasure. I believe, in preparing myself for the march, I foresaw every difficulty likely to occur in the march and all the places where it was possible there would be any opposition, and made up my mind how I could persistently endeavor to meet the one and overcome the other.
Was any counsel of war held as to the expediency of marching across the country?
None that I have heard off. But this extraordinary question is entitled to more consideration than is supplied by a full answer. I did not ask the opinion of any officer or officers whatever in respect to marching to Washington. At one time General Palmer, Colonel Hoffman (the assistant adjutant-general of the department) at another, and General Spinola at another time were in my quarters, a few moments each, at the time were in my quarters, a few moments each, at the time when myself and my confidential personal staff were gash-