ders from you to remain in the Upper Nansemond with the flotilla under my command, and so informed General Getty. I did not communicate with General Peck on the subject, but your order to me to remain was forwarded through him.
The only written orders I received from you on the subject were dated on the 18th and 20th instant; that of the 18th in these words: "You will not remain in the river (Upper Nansemond) and longer than your communications remain open, so that you can return and rejoin Lieutenant Cushing; not so long as to risk your ability to return."
On the 20th you repeated the same instructions.
When the first of the above orders was received it was already so dangerous to pass the rebel battery that I should not have attempted it unless I had been forced to do so, or had received positive orders, and Generals Peck and Getty had both agreed to put in execution a plan that I had proposed for capturing the battery, and which after two miscarriages on the part of the army was successfully accomplished.
On the 19th instant Fleet-Captain Crosby came up with discretionary orders, dated the 18th instant, in regard to the gunboats remaining in the upper river. That evening the battery was captured, and General Getty said he would move over troops and hold it if Captain Crosby would direct the gunboats to remain, which he did. That evening I received a telegram from you, through General Peck, directing me to remain on the upper river till further orders.
The next morning about 12 m. General Getty showed me his orders from General Peck to withdraw from the captured point, and later in the day an order to withdraw before night. I had received no orders from you which required me to withdraw from the Upper Nansemond, and so told General Getty, and earnestly expressed to him my entire disapprobation of the abandoning of the captured point. I told him repeatedly that I would remain in the Upper Nansemond as long as he held the point, but that if he evacuated it I should be obliged to go below it. My communications were perfectly safe as he held this key to the river. The position was an exceedingly strong one, and General Getty had crossed more than 1,000 men and had defended the rear by several lines of rifle-pits.
There was nothing in your instructions to me or in my communications to Generals Peck or Getty that rendered it necessary for them to abandon the work, but their movement made it absolutely necessary for me to move below.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. H. LAMSON,
Lieutenant, U. S. Navy, Commanding Flotilla.
UNITED STATES FLAG-SHIP MINNESOTA, Off Newport News, Va., April 20, 1863.
GENERAL: By dispatch to-day from Lieutenant Lamson I am informed that the captured rebel battery at West Branch will be abandoned to-night. I hope that this work and all others on the left bank of the Nansemond will be completely razed, and not left to invite reoccupation and allow the enemy to annoy us and cut off our communications. If suffolk is to be held I hope the present opportunity will be improved to construct such works on the right bank of the Upper Nansemond as its proper defense requires.