UNITED STATES FLAG-SHIP MINNESOTA,
Off Newport News, April 8, 1863.
Major General JOHN A. DIX, U. S. A.,
Commanding Seventh Army Corps, Fortress Monroe, Va.:
GENERAL: In your letter to me of April 5 you request that during your absence the signature of Captain W. E. Blake, provost-marshal, might be respected by the guard vessel as conveying the same authority as your own. Immediately on the receipt of this request I referred the matter to the Navy Department for instructions as I am especially directed in passing ships and merchandise to or from Norfolk for military purposes to recognize the signature of Major-General Dix, "and not of persons signing for him." Until, therefore, I am enabled to communicate the Department's decision to you I hope that such permits will not be given by Captain Blake, as the guard vessel must at present act under their original instructions. Permits to trade from the Secretary of the Treasury, War, or Navy will be of course always respected when presented here.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, yours,
S. P. LEE,
Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA,
Fort Monroe, Va., April 8, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
GENERAL: H. A. Gibbon, a deserter from the Fifty-seventh Regiment North Carolina, of Lee's army, came into our lines yesterday. He was conscripted from Chapel Hill College, N. C., and is remarkably intelligent. His relations corroborate many facts I have gleaned from less reliable sources, and seem worthy of the notice of the War Department. He says D. H. Hill with his division is in North Carolina; Pickett is near the blackwater, and Hood near Petersburg. He confirms my former statement that Fitzhugh Lee, with four regiments of cavalry, came down to near Gloucester Point having boasted he would take it. On his return he stopped at a Colonel Davis', where Gibbon learned the merriment caused by his failure. Lee's cavalry, he says, recently moved toward the left of the rebel lines.
Gibbon states that Lee has collected large pontoon trains and is ready to cross the Rappahannock; that he will attack Hooker son if Hooker does not attack; that Lee's army is 80,000 strong, all well armed, and mostly with Enfield rifles. The men are in good condition and feel entire confidence that they will beat Hooker. Provisions are certainly very scarce, but there is no despondency.
Gibbon says the railroads north from Richmond are in a much worse condition than those south, and that railroad iron is very scarce.
The rebel generals from an army of 80,000 can keep more men in line of battle than Hooker and his generals can keep in line from an army of 100,000, and if Hooker has not more than that number he is in danger of being whipped.
I have not yet made a sufficiently close examination of this department to venture a positive opinion; but from the glance I took at Suffolk and the neighboring country I could see nothing there to tempt the enemy to make great sacrifices in that quarter which would weaken his attack on Hooker. I think I shall advise that with the works about Suffolk and the gunboats on the Nansemond Peck can hold the position