War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0406 NORTH CAROLINA AND S. E. VIRGINIA. Chapter XXX.

Search Civil War Official Records


Off Newport News, Va., September 26, 1862.

Major General JOHN A. DIX, U. S. A.,

Commanding Seventh Army Corps, Fort Monroe, Va.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your reply to my communication of the 25th, relative to giving notice to the foreign consuls and to the inhabitants of Norfolk to prepare them in the event of an attack on Norfolk, now threatened by the concentration of rebel forces in the vicinity of Suffolk, the outpost of Norfolk. Should the enemy march upon the town, and under shelter of it attack the troops and gunboats, the latter, stationed in the harbor to assist in maintaining our occupation of the place, would be obliged to fire upon it.

By giving timely notice to the women and children, the consuls, & c., we shall feel free to fire, should it become necessary to do so. By hesitation and delay, lest we put to some inconvenience the inhabitants, of whom the influential, if not the larger part, appear hostile to the General Government, we may entail on ourselves the disagreeable alternative, in the event of a sudden attack, of firing upon a town whose people have not had the benefit of a previous and proper notice. A premature warning would be better for them and for us than none at all, and might possibly have the effect of inducing the enemy, at the instance of the inhabitants, to desist from any attempt against our position there.

I therefore propose that the terms of a notice shall at once be arranged to your satisfaction and signed by me, so that you may date, sign, and publish it, whenever in your good judgment it shall be proper to do so.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, yours,

S. P. LEE,

Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.


Fort Monroe, September 27, 1862.

Major General H. W. HALLECK:

GENERAL: Soon after I took command here I presented to the Government the case of the inhabitants of Norfolk, who were then and are now more grievously affected by the commercial restrictions imposed on them.

On the 4th instant I presented their case a second time to the War Department, reiterating my views, and contending that Norfolk, not being a blockaded port, is not subject to the laws of blockade, but that it is held by military occupation and governed by the laws of war, and that neutral nations cannot call us to account for any commercial intercourse we may think proper to allow for the comfort of our troops or of the inhabitants who are dependent on us, and for whose wants every dictate of justice and humanity calls on us to provide.

The state of things here is deplorable. The people are suffering for want of almost all the necessaries of life. They pay to-day $ 16 per barrel for flour. Through our interdiction of trade we have shut them out both from the North and the South, and they are actually worse off than they were under the insurgents. I confess I do not understand the policy, if there is any. The permission was asked the other day to take a