APRIL 15, 1863.
I arrived at 10 last night and found your dispatch in regard to gun-boats. I ordered the West End back immediately. She was out of ammunition. I also telegraphed Admiral Lee, asking that his gunboats might go back. Received his answer after midnight that he would act as I requested.
JOHN A. DIX,
SUFFOLK, VA., April 15, 1863.
Up to this time I hold the line of the river and am satisfied nothing has passed over yet. The pressure has been heavy all along the river down to the West Branch. Gunboats there are holding a large force. My flanks are yet intact.
About noon we silenced the rebel battery of 20-pounder rifled, which caused so much trouble yesterday. The Smith Briggs was attacked near my headquarters in the night but drove off the rebels.
JOHN J. PECK,
UNITED STATES FLAG-SHIP MINNESOTA, Off Newport News, Va., April 15, 1863-p.m.
Major General JOHN A. DIX, U. S. A.,
Commanding Seventh Army Corps, Fortress Monroe, Va.:
GENERAL: I sent two armed tugs into the Nansemond this morning, where I have two other small and armed vessels. The Mount Washington, a river steamer with fixed pieces on board, was towed out this morning much disabled from severe fighting in the Upper Nansemond yesterday.
You must not rely upon these few frail and opened ferry-boats and river steamers, which you call gunboats, to keep the rebels from crossing the Upper Nansemond, which is long, narrow, and crooked, a mere creek, and from which we were driven yesterday. These craft are effective only from the gallantry with which they are fought, with their boilers, steampipes, and magazine all exposed to the concentrated fire of the rebel batteries, while the sharpshooters pick off with facility our unprotected gunners.
Reflect that these little vessels go into such a fight much in the exposed condition in which breached forts surrender when their magazines, &c., are exposed. I must call your attention to this in order that you may adapt your military dispositions to the necessities of your situation, which is not suitable to the operation of vessels.
General Keyes keeps calling for gunboats off Williamsburg. This ship cannot go there, and my force is not strong enough to detach from in view of the rebel naval force above.
The public interests here and even the communications of the Army of the Potomac depend on the security of this position.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, yours,
S. P. LEE,
Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
P. S.-4 P. M.-Yours of this date, also a report from Lieutenant Cushing, dated 1.15 p. m., just received. Lieutenant Cushing says the