NEW BERNE, Sunday, April 5, 1863-4 p. m.
Major General J. G. FOSTER:
MY DEAR GENERAL: Your letter of the 4th, dated 1 a. m., was received about two hours since, and I am delighted to inform you that everything mentioned in that letter has been anticipated. You speak first of the matter of the ammunition-of the need of 6-pounder Wiard; that was sent yesterday by the Northerner, and a further supply goes in about one hour from this time by the Farina. You next inquire about sending a cavalry force across the river to harass the enemy's rear; that was anticipated by me, and I organized such an expedition on the 3rd. Major Garrard, with a battalion of four companies and one howitzer, has started with orders to gain all the information possible about the position of the enemy at Swift Creek, and, if possible, to threaten the forces at Hill's Point. By the time you receive this he will be doing his best in those parts. He has also five companies of infantry at Street's Ferry in case he should wish to return that way. (He might find the enemy in his rear after he gets up the country, and he might wish to dash across to the ferry, as that is only 8 miles from Swift Creek.) The flats will go up to the ferry with a small steamer, with a gun on board.
In addition to the troops of Spinola's brigade already up near the Hill's Point Battery the Northerner yesterday took two regiments, the Fifth Massachusetts and One hundred and first Pennsylvania. To-day the Farina takes the Third Massachusetts and One hundred and third New york, and she will tow schooners with the Eighty-fifth New York and Ninety-sixth New York, making nine regiments. We will hold this place with the remainder of the troops; at any rate we will try. Here we are only thinking of you and the way of helping you.
You must bear in mind that ever since you left here we have had the most terrific weather; the wind has either blown the water all out of the river or it has been blowing such a gale that most of our transportation could not do anything. Our vessels have been either aground or wind bound. Such a time has never been known here since we took the place.
The Northerner yesterday took up a lot of small boats. By my order the harbor-master collected all these he could find to send up. There are three ship launches secured to us by Captain Davenport, which will be sent up just as soon as they can go.
Captain Davenport tells me that he has sent a bountiful supply of ammunition for all the gunboats.
General Prince writes to me by the same messenger who brings your letter. He read your letter to me and he says that as a matter of course he adopts your ideas and he will act upon them.
I am not surprised that you think that there is a want of promptness, but you have no idea what weather we have had. Nothing could be done by water for a great portion of the time.
Urge General Prince to send back all the steamers he can spare to this place, for now we have nothing left here in the way of transportation.
I sent to Colonel Pickett at Plymouth, informing him of the state of affairs generally, and I authorized him to evacuate the place if he was hard pressed there, but to hold on as long as he could.
My own opinion is that he had better come here at once with all his force and hold the mouth of the Roanoke by a gunboat for the present. I cannot, however, take the responsibility of this. Think of it and let me know how to advise him when I write again.