HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE PAMLICO,
Washington, N. C., May 10, 1863.
Major General J. G. FOSTER,
Commanding Department of North Carolina:
GENERAL: Perfectly coinciding with you in the generalities of your letter of May 8, 1863, respecting the subject of landing at Hill's Point, the reasons I have assigned in my letter to you of the 26th of April, 1863, forbid my drawing the same special inference from them, and the hypothesis which you there state that you consider applicable to the case needs no other commentary than is furnished by the result of the siege.
There is no manner in which my judgment could have affected the morale of the troops. I am confident that it was never otherwise than well affected by me. After the fleet returned from the Pamlico, when the troops were crossing the Neuse for the purpose of marching to Washington, in which expedition they expected me to lead them, no regiment passed my house that did not rend the air with unanimous cheers. No cause whatever has existence for the fear you express, and I do most solemnly avow before my Maker that no valid reason can be assigned for it.
As I believe that an examination of the reconnaissance referred to by you as made by Captain Douglas, Fifth Rhode Island Volunteers, will deprive the remark you predicate upon it of all force, I beg that you will cause me to be furnished with an account of it.
Respecting the "one brigade" immediately in support of the battery it is but just to say that it was Pettigrew's, containing six full regiments, nominally 5,400 men, and that it was re-enforced by Claiborne's cavalry and by artillery. But D. H. Hill had two brigades on the south side of the river besides three unattached North Carolina regiments. Hill's Point Battery was the key of the investment. All military men will agree that he could therefore concentrate his main body in its defense. No doubt can exist of it. But this is of no moment in the argument. Pettigrew's brigade is sufficient for my purposes.
I have in vain endeavored to reach with my perceptive faculties the object of this correspondence. Has the interest of the country suffered? Or, on the other hand, has everything terminated according to the utmost blessing of the Almighty? The siege of Washington is raised in the best possible manner. The enemy acquired no advantage whatever over us in the course of it. Everything has resulted in the utter defeat and overthrow of his plans. Nothing could be better. Your name is the theme of every newspaper correspondent. And yet this correspondence is entered upon with me, in which there seems to be an elaborate effort to give currency to facts which have no existence by asserting them interrogatively, and in which, notwithstanding the favorable result of the siege, you now even go so far as to say "I can therefore only regret that the attempt to storm Hill's Point was not made," plainly regretting that an unnecessary and imminent risk of another Ball's Bluff was not run by landing 2,500 men in the face of Pettigrew's brigade, although such landing would have been in opposition to your own instructions given in writing to me. In this regret, which is uttered with such poetical sincerity, neither our country nor myself can possibly participate.
General, it is clear to the most common apprehension that the "hypothesis," the "fear," and the "regret" expressed in this letter have no