vessels in running the blockade. At last dates there were there forty-three light schooners. I have informed the naval commanders of that fact. There are also some salt-works at that place and on the adjoining waters. The distance is too great for an expedition from here, unless the same expedition were to attack Wilmington itself. I have destroyed all the salt-works within reach of me, as per previous report.
I am advancing the defenses of this town, and they are now strong enough to require a siege to take, I think. The defenses of Washington, which were not mounted or garrisoned at the time of the recent attack, are now both, and are sufficiently strong to offer very great resistance to an attempt at a coup de main.
I am erecting block-houses at all the lesser exposed points on the line of the railroad, & c. Many are finished and the rest are progressing well.
I omitted to mention, in speaking of Wilmington, that yellow fever has broken out there and bids fair to become an epidemic. The inhabitants have fled the town; the telegraph office is closed, and all work on the iron-clad gunboats now building there is suspended. Concerning these gunboats I have some information which I deem accurate, and which I will give in brief as you may desire to communicate the same to the Navy Department: They are 150 feet in length, 35 or 40 feet beam, and will draw some 14 feet water. They are simply intended for river defense and are not designed to cross the bar. The engines are from the Modern Greece and the Uncle Ben. They are not yet set in. Five weeks' work will be necessary to finish the first and three months for the second. They are to be plated with railroad iron and built after the pattern of the Merrimac Numbers 1.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
SUFFOLK, October 5, 1862.
Although I supposed the 9th would be the day, yet I felt anxious about matters in the direction of Franklin; the more so as the enemy was advancing his picket line some 4 or 5 miles from the river; hence I sent Spear for information upon which to base action. He was at Franklin from an early hour till after midnight. Longer delay under the circumstances would have been risky. My information about the obstructions led me to doubt their ability to co-operate. Sent a party to the South Quay region last night to return via Wianoke and Somerton with information of the boats; will aid if possible. We have acted in good faith, and, as you remark, no blame can attach to us. I shall strive to reflect your views, and trust my efforts will command your approval.
JOHN J. PECK,
UNITED STATES FLAG-SHIP MINNESOTA,
Off Newport News, October 5, 1862.
General JOHN A. DIX, U. S. A.,
Commanding Seventh Army Corps, Fortress Monroe, Va.:
GENERAL: I regret to have to inform you of a violation of the blockade by the schooner Caspar Heft, chartered on the 1st instant by Cattell