Washington, April 9, 1863-3 p. m.
Major-General KEYES, Fort Monroe, Va.:
If you can possibly assist General Foster do so in preference to anything else. Let me know what you have determined on.
H. W. HALLECK,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA,
Fort Monroe, Va., April 9, 1863.
Major-General H. W. HALLECK,
Commanding U. S. Army:
SIR: In consequence of the appeals of General Foster for relief (his letter of the 5th instant to you was forwarded) I have ready to move night 4,000 men-all that can be spared prudently from this department at the present moment. I have a rumor that Washington, N. C., has been burned and that the transports carrying troops from New Berne, not being able to reach Foster, had returned. I do not see the wisdom of General Foster's proposal to make a demonstration from Plymouth toward Washington with such a force as can be assembled there. Troops from Suffolk could only march to Gatesville, and I don't know of any transports to receive them there for Plymouth. I shall therefore limit myself, unless otherwise instructed, to sending re-enforcements to New Berne as transports can be had. None are here at present, and Colonel Thomas is not able to tell me when to anticipate them. I have this moment received a telegram from General Peck to state his working party at the ferry on the Western Branch of the Nansemond had been attacked. His people have had a successful skirmish near Isle of Wight, capturing 4 men, 9 horses, &c. The enemy on the blackwater are reported ready to march; are building bridges, &c.
I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,
E. D. KEYES,
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
New Berne, N. C., April 9, 1863.
Brigadier General LORENZO THOMAS,
Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: The last steamer from here carried a letter from General Foster to General Halleck informing him of the situation of affairs in this department.
Bye referring to that letter you will see that the enemy had erected batteries on the river below the town of Washington and thus prevented re-enforcements or supplies from passing up. General Foster's first idea was to attempt, in conjunction with the naval forces, to take the batteries, but after a careful consideration of the matter he decided to have the forces which had already gone up to these batteries returned to this place, and with all the rest of the available force from here to march across the country to his relief. The expedition was by General Foster's order to be conducted by General Prince, but just at the point of starting (yesterday morning) General Prince was taken sick and the column started under the command of Brigadier-General Spinola.
This expedition consists of all the force that cap possibly be spared