military and professional decorum-accuses me of withholding the necessary services of the gunboats and of desiring to keep them out of danger by putting them in glass cases.
I have not learned that for this gross and indecent assault, this wicked misrepresentation of an honest and earnest performance of duty under high responsibilities, the anonymous correspondent has in any way been corrected. These things constrain me to quote from a report by Lieutenant Lamson, under date of Sunday, April 19:
We have fought the rebels every day since last Saturday except to-day, with a heavy loss compared to our force, and the army have laid on their bank or in their earthwork without a man hurt, and have utterly failed to render me the assistance and support they ought to have given.
During this time the Mount Washington and Alert had been disabled and withdrawn for repairs, the former in a serious contest with the enemy's battery at West Branch, having had her boiler exploded, her gallows-frame destroyed, and having been otherwise much cut up while helpless and aground on the bar commanded by that battery, without the use of her steam. Our loss in this and subsequent unequal contests amounted to one of our vessels entirely disabled and three of the other four partially so, and 24 men killed and wounded, a very large proportion of our small number of men engaged. The interval of two days between the disabling of some vessels and the arrival of others on the Upper Nansemond, together with the absence of any naval demonstration on the part of the enemy in James River, seemed to indicate that it was not his intention to cross the Nansemond. Your re-enforcements giving you as I am told a strong army of 22,000 men at Suffolk, enabling you, as you have just done, to erect works and to defend the line of the river; the inability of our little vessels, as shown by subsequent contests with the rebel batteries, to raise the blockade of the Upper Nansemond, whilst my transports and tenders were being cut up without being adequate to the main object of protecting that line; my orders to return the vessels from the Potomac Flotilla as soon as the emergency was over, and a requisition upon me to convoy and protect Major-General Hooker's supply vessels going into the Pamunkey, combined to dispose me to withdraw, the light draughts from the Upper Nansemond, and I accordingly sent Fleet Captain Crosby to Suffolk to ascertain facts and to bring them down if practicable, giving due notice to the army. But at your and General Peck's instance I kept them in the river, as shown in my dispatches of the 19th to General Peck before and to General Getty after the capture of the battery on the West Branch, which capture opened our communications. The former dispatch went through your headquarters.
I am further constrained to say that it was until after two failures on the part of the army to support Lieutenant Lamson that that young officer was finally enabled to put into execution (with the gallant and effectual co-operation of the troops under General Getty) the plans which he had made and urged to capture the battery at West Branch.
A due regard for the facts should have prevented the reflection implied in your letter. The readiness and zeal which the officers and men under my command have exhibited in these unequal contests, in which our vessels have been "fired into, injured, and crippled;" the gallantry with which they have incurred " hazard to prevent the rebels from crossing," these did not tempt me selfishly to misuse the means and lives with which I am intrusted for the public welfare to undertake without proper explanation an enterprise which is military and not naval-which is practicable in the former sense and impossible in the latter. Hence