New Berne, N. C., December 18, 1863.
GENERAL: My excuse for this trespass upon your most valuable time is that I have been unofficially advised that Admiral Lee has endeavored to depreciate the importance of Longstreet's campaign against me.
This is very singular, for he did not visit Suffolk during the nine months I was in command, and saw nothing of my system of fortifications or of Longstreet's, the development of which was from 9 to 10 miles. His headquarters were at Newport News, some 30 miles from mine. His views were based at Newport News, some 30 miles from mine. His views were based entirely upon the impressions of young and inexperienced subordinates, whose vision was limited to short distances beyond the gunboats decks.
On April 20, thirteen days before the conclusion of the siege, he ordered all the boats to Hill's Point for safety, 7 miles from Suffolk, against which I protested, and some sharp correspondence ensued. Besides the distance the densely-wounded banks of the nansemond were unfavorable for forming a judgment of the numbers and labors of the enemy, everywhere screened in timber. The whole country was one vast forest, out of which I had to cut a field of fire for my artillery. Admiral Lee thinks that Longstreet brought a force of negroes for building his extensive line of works. On his arrival the negroes ceased to come into my lines, and parties were sent out to bring in for information, but without success.
after his repulse on May 3 and night retreat some blacks escaped from Franklin and informed me that all the contrabands, except servants and drivers, were left at Franklin, across the Blackwater, to prevent their escape. They also stated that they prayed very long that "Massa Longstreet might be whipped by you folks"
Captain Lamson, one of the most gallant officers in the U. S. Navy, commended the flotilla in the Upper Nansemond, and was on the staff of the acting admiral. He says he made a complete examination, during of the acting admiral. He says he made a complete examination, during two days, of Longstreet's line after his retreat, and changed his opinion and so told the admiral; he estimated the rebel force from 35,000 to 50,000. Major-General Dix was over my lines, including the Nansemond, every alternate day, and had favorable opportunities for judging; he says some 35,000. General Gordon states that the works he examined could not have been made less than 30,000.
Major-General Keyes concluded my situation was so critical that i ought to evacuate the lines to same the troops from capture. On my positive refusal he called for two corps. He estimated 40,000 prior to Hill's arrived.
A mail, with several hundred letters, was taken, showing that Hill was to co-operate, and that they had a statement of my force, artillery, and a map of the works.
General Hooker telegraphed that his reliable spy in Richmond advised that Jeff. Davis had order Hill to leave North Carolina and Join Longstreet at Suffolk. All prisoners, deserters and Union people agreed as to this co-operation.
About April 26 a division arrived from Little Washington, having crossed the Chowan near Gatesville. General Hill joined with his entire command on May 1, by way of Weldon, Franklin, and Holland's Corners. Hill's letter to Longstreet, asking orders, is in my possession. General Dix employed a spy to visit the armies of Longstreet and Lee in February and March. He was two weeks on Longstreet's lines and longer in Lee's. Through a friend in the War Office in Richmond