from this place, and will number in the vicinity of 8,000 men. The force of the enemy around Washington and on the road between here and that place is estimated at something more than 20,000, under the command of Generals D. H. Hill, Pettigrew, and Garnett. There are roads leading into the route from here to Washington, down which the enemy can pour any number of troops, and several points on the route are fortified. A great portion of the country is swamp and exceedingly difficult to get over.
In a dispatch received this morning from General Spinola (who has proved himself, I think, an officer of energy, discretion, and good judgment) he informed me that from all the information he can get he concludes it impossible to force his way through to Washington without first taking the battery at Hill's Point, and he proposes to try that to-day. A success will place him in a better position, as he can then sufficient force, however, to take that position he will return her if he can. I have not given him orders to that effect, as I have only directed him to carry out the instructions of General Foster to the letter, if possible. New Berne, which should be held at all hazards, is threatened, and I have scarcely 3,000 men here.
There is no general officer with me, and the troops are mostly new-nine-months' men.
Of General Foster's policy in abandoning everything to the saving of Washington I have nothing to say, except that it meets with no favor from the military and naval officers who consider themselves privileged to speak of the matter. I obey General Foster's orders implicitly, trusting to holding this place.
Should the forces now en route get to Washington they will be there without supplies. It will take a large army to keep the road between that place and this. The river is lined with batteries, and the senior naval officer at the lower batteries, who has some of the finest gunboats in these waters under his control, informed me that he can make no impression on them.
I informed General Dix of the condition of affairs here by a special messenger, requesting a re-enforcement. I have only heard by the return of the officer sent that we could expect no re-enforcements here from the Army of Virginia, as they are now fully occupied there.
Admiral Lee has sent a small re-enforcement of gunboats, which in the absence of the troops make this place, of course, more secure.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. N. PALMER,
Brigadier-General U. S. Volunteers.
HEADQUARTERS SEVENTH ARMY CORPS,
Suffolk, April 9, 1863.
Department of North Carolina:
GENERAL: Although you have received more than 10,000 of my old and best troops within a few months without returning them, I am again contributing for your benefit. General Terry will join you with a considerable force, of which 3,000 from this point are the flower of my command.
General Longstreet has been in my front with not less than 28,000, for some weeks, that he could concentrate in a few hours of this place. For