War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0648 NORTH CAROLINA AND S. E. VIRGINIA. Chapter XXX.

Search Civil War Official Records

posts, recommending that these posts be abandoned for the purpose of concentration. This letter has unfortunately been mislaid, and so I can only answer the general tenor of the letter, confining myself to the reasons for the occupation of the posts for continuing the hold them.

In regard to Fort Macon and the adjoining posts of Morehead City and Beaufort, there can, I think, be no question as to the necessity of holding them; likewise the forts at Hatteras, which hold the entrance to the Sounds; also Roanoke Island, which controls the navigation of Albemarle Sound . Then there only remain the towns of New Berne, Washington, and Plymouth. The former was occupied March 4, 1862, and has since been fortified as it does the advantages of two lines of communication, one by railroad to Beaufort Harbor and one by the river to the Sounds.

The history of the occupation of Washington and Plymouth is that they were first held by gunboats lying opposite the towns. Afterward a picket guard of one company was sent to each place, as a picket guard for the the gunboats on shore. This guard was afterward increased as demanded by circumstances and the necessities of service. Finally the importance of occupying the posts permanently was seen and recognized, and works were erected for this purpose. Some of the reasons which led to this determination were as follows:

1st. By not occupying these points-New Berne, Washington, and Plymouth-we permit their occupation by the enemy and their use by them as yards and arsenals in which to prepare rams and gunboats to operate against our gunboats in the Sounds.

2nd. To permit egress of any light-draught gunboat that may be built in the rivers above; and, in fine, gives our gunboats the control of those rivers for offensive operations by water.

3rd. These towns afford excellent landing places, at which our forces could be quickly and safely concentrated for offensive operations by land, having the towns as bases. This advantage is the more sensibly felt when any one town is besieged.

4th. These three strategical points retain within their power all the counties to the east of them, which is a matter of some importance, as they are the most fertile in corn, &c., of any in the State,and are so considered by the Confederate Government, as shown by the efforts of General Hill to repossess them.

In conclusion, I am strongly of the opinion that as long as I am strong enough to hold these points I should do so, and further think that if the exigency should compel me to abandon either that it would be a lost advantage, inasmuch as by holding the three I can operate more effectively with -- force than I could with the same force concentrated at one or two of them, and the others held by the enemy.

In a naval point of view I of course yield and defer to you judgement, but it is may conviction that were either of these points held by the enemy, a larger, not a smaller, naval force would be necessary to hold the Sounds, irrespective of river navigation and the convoying of vessels.

These views are sent to you in, I assure you, the most friendly spirit, and in accordance with the harmony which has always existed between our two arms of the service, and merely that by exchanging ideas the result most to the interests of the service may be arrived at.

I have the honor to be, admiral, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major-General, Commanding.