WASHINGTON, April 10, 1863-6 p. m.
Commanding Forces, New Berne:
GENERAL: Your dispatches arrived this morning at 2 a. m. by the hands of Lieutenant-Colonel McChesney, who will return to-night.
I am directed by the major-general commanding to say that he could have wished that you had yourself come in command of the forces which moved yesterday from New Berne under General Spinola, notwithstanding the confidence you express in his activity and intelligence.
If General Wessells has arrived General Foster wishes you to take command in person of the advancing forces. Should General Naglee arrive he will be sent forward at once to take command.
In case you are not sufficiently strong at New Berne you will send for the regiment at Plymouth, leaving at that post three companies with three pieces of artillery as garrison for the fort if it be sufficiently completed.
The general wishes that a light-draught steamer, with her sides protected by hay-bales, should be sent here at once loaded with ammunition and provisions. Send also several schooners of light draught, protected and loaded in the same way.
The enemy have opened fire to-day from five batteries on the crest of the rising ground in rear of town. Their fire for a short time was very sharp, but no damage has yet been done.
The general expects, even if the expedition which has started be successful, that you will continue to make persistent efforts to send a force across to our relief.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
EDWARD E. POTTER,
Chief of Staff.
If anything goes to Washington before we return, a few thousand rations, some hay, and some 32-pound and 6-pound (Wiard) ammunition had better be sent if our supply is large at New Berne. McChesney says General Foster is in high spirits, &c.
I. N. P.
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
New Berne, April 10, 1863.
Colonel J. PICKETT,
Commanding Post, Plymouth, N. C.:
COLONEL: I am instructed by General Palmer to inform you of the situation of affairs at present in this vicinity and at Washington.
Washington is completely or nearly invested by the enemy, so that it is impossible for the gunboats to proceed to General Foster's assistance. The attempt to re-enforce General Foster by sending troops to him by water had in consequence to be abandoned. The expedition sent from here across the country by way of Swift Creek has been obliged to return to this place on account of the greatly superior strength of the enemy.
The effective force at this place consists of about 9,000 men, and about 12,000 at Washington. The enemy's force is supposed to be about 20,000 in the immediate vicinity of Washington.
I am, very truly, your obedient servant,
WM. L. WHEATON,