bled a large force at Hamilton, said to be 7,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry, and seven batteries of between six and eight pieces each.
The fortifications at Rainbow Bluff, just below Hamilton, destroyed by me last November, are being repaired and heavy guns being mounted from Weldon. A considerable force is at Weldon and the enemy are busily engaged in fortifying that point.
My present force of artillery and the fact that my best troops have been sent to the Department of the South will not allow me to attack Hamilton with any reasonable prospect of success.
To prevent the enemy from putting their threat into execution of taking the town of plymouth, taking the gunboats, or driving them out of the river, I propose to re-enforce that point, and at the same time I have prepared a strong reconnaissance, under General Prince, to move in the direction of Wilmington, and so prevent too great an accumulation of force on the Roanoke until such time as I shall be strong enough to attack with advantage. The command is only waiting for a suitable condition of the roads to move, the recent rains having rendered them almost impassable.
I remain, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
UNITED STATES FLAG-SHIP MINNESOTA,
Newport News, March 3, 1863.
Major General JOHN A. DIX, U. S. A.,
Commanding Seventh Army Corps, Fort Monroe, Va.:
GENERAL: I inclose Lieutenant Blake's explanation for your perusal, when please return it to me. You will see that the circumstances of the case had not been fully and correctly represented to you. Still the course pursued by this young officer, then in temporary command of the Mahaska, was irregular and injudicious. I regret the occurrence, and am sure that no official discourtesy was intended.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, yours,
S. P. LEE,
Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
SUFFOLK, VA., March 3, 1863.
Colonel Spear has just reported the result of a reconnaissance toward Franklin. From sources that he says are entirely reliable the enemy is reported at 20,000.
JOHN J. PECK,
Major-General PECK, Suffolk:
It is reported that a company of the Mounted Rifles have deserted to the enemy. I cannot credit the report. It is also reported that two of the companies refused to go in picket duty. It is important that I should know the truth of these reports at once.
JOHN A. DIX,