would not leave his work to attack us, and with our small force had we driven him from his intrenchments it would have been a victory barren of results and involving a heavy sacrifice of men on our part. All this time while confronting him we were removing the iron as rapidly as possible. The road destroyed, the enemy fell back and immediately with his whole force assumed a position at Windsor, on the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, and simultaneously moved up the Chowan with gunboats above the Nottoway River.
Leaving some force to attack the gunboats in case they came up I assembled about 3,000 men and on Saturday afternoon crossed the Blackwater at the Blackwater Bridge by means of pontoons and moved in the direction of Windsor. I found the enemy again with all his force in a thick woods, his lines running from the railroad to across the Blackwater road. His outposts and advanced lines were rapidly driven in, and I assumed a line of battle in hopes he would move to the attack. This he did not do, and after dusk I withdrew to the right bank of the river. There were no results that seemed in anywise attainable that would have justified me in attacking the enemy, outnumbering us four-fold.
While over the river information was received that the enemy's gunboats had moved up the Meherrin and taken possession of Murfreesborough, N. C. General Jenkins the same night moved to Franklin, and with his forces was directed to operate against the gunboats. I do not know what forces Major General D. H. Hill has in North Carolina to guard those streams.
It is to me a source of great regret that so little of the iron from the two railroads referred to was taken up during the time General Longstreet was at Suffolk. I am sure had there been any concert or a proper concert of action in the departments the bridge over the Blackwater could have been built, and by constructing a small curve at the crossing of the roads near Suffolk trains could have been run from Petersburg to Franklin via Suffolk and both roads taken up. Had a bridge been thrown across the Zuni before General Longstreet moved and during the month he was making preparations, every bar of iron could have been secured while we were there at Suffolk.
Yours, very respectfully,
S. G. FRENCH,
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
ENGINEER BUREAU, June 9, 1863.
Respectfully returned to the honorable Secretary of War.
No effort was spared to remove the iron from the Norfolk and Petersburg road and from the Seaboard road while General Longstreet was in command; but his efforts, assisted by the engineers under his control, were given tot eh collection of supplies for the army, these being considered of the first importance. Everything possible with the engineers has been done to save the iron in question, and I am now able to report that a large part of the iron from the Seaboard Railroad is on the right bank of the Blackwater.
J. F. GILMER,
Colonel of Engineers and Chief of Bureau.