port of ammunition, coal, and dispatches at the service of the vessels in the Nansemond. The embarrassment thus occasioned here by the absence of tenders was partially relieved by the kind loan of the quarter master's tug Du Point. In further response to urgent calls from General Peck and yourself I applied to the Department for an additional force of light draughts to meet the demands on the Navy in these waters. Four vessels were then detached from the Potomac Flotilla, this being half of Commodore Harwood's steam force. They arrived here on the 16th and were sent into the Nansemond the same evening. Lieutenants Cushing and Lamson, who had in charge the two divisions of the flotilla in the Nansemond, were instructed to do everything in their power to assist the army.
The upper part of the river, in which most of the slight vessels thus hastily equipped were ordered to operate, is but a canal or ditch, of width so insignificant that the boats are obliged to touch one bank with their bows that their sterns may swing clear of the other. This narrow and tortuous stream winds between banks covered with woods, where riflemen or artillery can at any time conceal themselves and open a murderous and concentrated fire on our men on the open decks of the vessels at short range, shifting from place to place or masking batteries above and below, cut off our communications at will, and destroy or capture the flotilla.
Had the enemy in force really determined to cross the Nansemond how long could such vessels effectually oppose the movement? It was obvious to me that the few light field pieces we had (mostly on field carriages) would in the event of contesting a crossing have done better service behind earth works than on open decks over magazines of powder and steam; for the boilers, machinery,and ammunition of these light draught vessels, unlike those of regular men-of-war, are near or above water and exposed to shot and shell.
The line which these frail and vulnerable vessels were called upon to protect, and in front of which they were expected to patrol and draw the enemy's fire, was purely a military line, whose natural defenses should have been earthworks on our side against earthworks on the other-riflemen, scouts, communications, and proper disposition of troops to oppose similar demonstrations on the part of the enemy. Was it therefore justifiable for you to impose or for me to undertake, without a word of warning to you regarding its utter impracticability, a naval defense of your military line, which defense, if fairly tried, must have ailed, to the grief of the nation and the probable reproach of the Navy?
I beg to remind you that while thus straining every effort to meet these demands on the part of the army, though I was under the conviction that it was an anomalous and improper use of naval means, I suggested to you, having in view the confidence so flatteringly reposed in such means by you and General Peck, to arm and equip with field pieces and men for this service on the Nansemond, as I had done with the Mount Washington and Stepping Stones, one of the numerous tugs and transports at your disposal, of which, as shown by your official notices to me, you have about forty. I have not been informed that the suggestion was adopted. In your letter of the 22nd you say, alluding to the gunboats, "I know there is danger that they will be fired into, injured, perhaps crippled; but this hazard must be incurred to prevent the rebels from crossing. Yours will be exposed to no more danger than mine."
A newspaper correspondent from Fortress Monroe and professing to derive his inspiration from the "highest authority"-a great breach of