There may, however, at this time be some trouble in occupying the island, for I have heard that the rebels have recently planted a battery on the island to prevent this very thing. The island can nevertheless be taken by a determined effort at any time chat it is absolutely required. I will be most happy to co-operate in any way soon as I have the force.
If the 8,000 men belonging to this department, now lying at Port Royal, were sent back to me, with the abundant supply of siege guns, ammunition, and artillery that I took down with me to the Department of the South, I will at once engage to occupy Smith's Island with batteries to command the channel, to annoy Fort Caswell, and also as far as practicable to command the New Inlet Channel. Unless this return of my troops be made, which is now refused by the Government, I can do nothing to aid you, inasmuch as nearly 1,000 of the two-years' men have to be discharged in a few weeks and eight regiments of nine months' men within two months. This will very seriously deplete my already small force, and although I can hold my own I cannot under take to do more than act strictly on the defensive.
Whatever may be decided on by the Government you can rely upon my ready and energetic co-operation.
Very respectfully and truly, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
P. S.-I am now moving on Kinston.
FORT MONROE, VA.,
April 26, 1863-7.30 p. m.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
I have just returned from Suffolk. I went to the top of the signal station, 80 feet high, and saw two forts which the enemy is building-one in front of Fort Nansemond and the other across the river, below General Peck's headquarters. Garnett's brigade, which arrived on Friday, consist of five regiments. One of my spies, who arrived last evening, reports Powhatan not yet armed, but 600 contrabands at work. Two thousand troops, who were there a fortnight ago, have come to Suffolk. The Navy could easily have prevented the enemy from intrenching at Fort Powhatan. Everything indicates that the movement on Suffolk is a campaign and looks to Norfolk. The gauge of the rail-road from Petersburg to the Blackwater has been altered to correspond with ours this side. If you can spare a few thousand more troops they will no doubt be needed, and can be sent back the moment the exigency is over. The extent of our river line absorbs a large number. The enemy has cut a broad road down to the river, and indicates a determination to cross.
JOHN A. DIX,
SUFFOLK, VA., April 26, 1863.
Major-General DIX, Norfolk:
Major Stratton had some skirmishing with the enemy yesterday; the particulars I have not learned.
JOHN J. PECK,
42 R R-VOL XVIII