to extend to the Navy very considerable facilities, and this has always been kindly done and gratefully received. There is a difference, however, between lending a spare tug or wagon already provided for the use of the Army and buying such a tug to be given to the Navy without proper authority to do so. In vindication of your policy of providing an army-navy for the defense of the Upper Nansemond you speak of your gunboat, Smith Briggs, as being one of your "chief supports at Suffolk in consequence of our gunboats being withdrawn;"and in your letter to me of the 22nd you say: "My two armed steamers are to remain there. Yours are to be exposed to no more danger than mine," and you encourage me by a reference to the safe running by the Vicksburg batteries of our iron-clads under cover of night with high water and a swift current.
As to the withdrawal of the gunboats, Lieutenant Lamson was obliged to drop down below the bar, that is to say, from the Upper to the Lower Nansemond, on account of the abandonment, against the earnest remonstrance of Lieutenants Cushing and Lamson, of the captured rebel battery by our troops after it had been held by the cross-fire of the gunboats, whilst the troops so strengthened it in the rear with rifle-pits, intrenchments, embrasures, and artillery as to make it almost impregnable, and which, while occupied by the enemy, had harassed the gunboats considerable and cut off their communications by commanding the bar, over which but one of them could pass at or near low water.
Had this battery been held it, with our battery nearly opposite, would have afforded the gunboats a cover above the bar, whence they might at any time of tide have moved up in front of our earthworks, which Lieutenant Lamson informs me now line the right bank of Nansemond Creek. Your gunboat West End dropped below the bar when our gunboats did so, but Lieutenant Lamson informed me it refused to stop to ferry back your troops.
As to your other gunboat, the Smith Briggs, I am informed she never engaged the batteries, but has laid at Suffolk expending navy ammunition, which has been freely supplied to her, in shelling the woods. I cannot see how she or any other gunboat could have proved a "host at Suffolk." It would seem better to have the guns mounted in batteries ashore than on gunboats floating in the ditch before the battery or fort. The West Branch Battery not having been reoccupied by the enemy, it was picketed by you or us. Some of the navy gunboats were to go above the bar yesterday. I suppose when the boats get above the battery the enemy, if in force, will reoccupy it.
I hope you will see in this only a purpose to put myself and my command right on the record. I close with the earnest assurance that I will always be, as I always have been, happy to co-operate with you, and that whatever means are at my command shall be at your service within the extent of my authority.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, yours,
S. P. LEE,
Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
Elizabeth City, April-, 1863.
Assistant Adjutant-General HOFFMAN:
SIR: I make the following report of the forces under my command at this post to this date:
I was sent here by General Palmer February 28. I have one company of Eighth Massachusetts, 80 men; one of the Third Massachusetts, 75