I shall continue this demonstration for four or five days, and if in the mean time you do not defeat Longstreet I will make a new demonstration in another direction.
Please keep me constantly advised of what you wish, and i will aid you to the extent of my power. If I only had my troops back from South Carolina I should be able to make such an attack up the Roanoke River as would make Longstreet retire or leave Weldon. I was half tempted to run up to Suffolk and look at your defenses. If they are properly constructed and well laid out General Peck ought to be able to hold out against five times his number. At Washington we were unassailable (after the first day) with ten times our number around us.
Our outposts taunted the rebels with the inquiry why they did not come in and take Little Washington.
Egotism apart, however, every line of defenses should have at about 800 yards (dependent upon the natural features of the ground) a self sustaining work, perfectly inclosed, which cannot be taken even if the enemy penetrated the lines on the right or left. These works should be able to fire even to the rear. Each of these works should be mounted with heavy guns (long 32-pounders, firing shell, are very good) and completely manned. The garrisons should be instructed to hold the works to the last extremity, and made to feel their entire independence of any mishaps to other portions of the line.
These works should be of a strong profile, with a wide and deep ditch without, and a palisade in the middle of the ditch or a good abatis in front of it. Between these works should extend a line of infantry intrenchments, with a good ditch and parapet flanked by the fires of the strong works.
If there be time, the infantry intrenchments (along which embrasures for light field pieces may be roughly made) may be supplied with loopholes for infantry, formed of rods and high enough to protect the heads of those firing. If you have any timber send me, and at once, and I will do all that I can.
My advance toward Kinston are already in front of the rebels at Core Creek, and will engage them to-morrow.
Ever yours, most truly,
J. G. FOSTER,
HEADQUARTERS EIGHTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
Dept. of North Carolina, April 25, 1863.
Admiral S. P. LEE,
Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron,
U. S. Flag-ship Minnesota, off Newport News, Va.:
ADMIRAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 24th in relation to the occupying of Smith's Island, at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, by our forces. The idea is a good one, and should, in my opinion, be carried out as soon as other operations will permit or render it advisable.
When the plan of operations against Wilmington was decided on, and my preparations were making, this point (Smith's Island) was selected as the first point on which to land and make an establishment to cover a depot of supplies. I am glad that Captain Case sees the importance of it now, for there is no reason why it may not be used in the [manner] he suggests, and thus relieve the blockading vessels at the west entrance of the Cape Fear River.