Navy Department, which has expressed its approval, providing the necessary co-operating force is furnished from the army. The Department informs me that it has unofficial information that Major-General Halleck promises to suggest to you to assist in any way you can, with the force under command, in carrying out this object. I have ventured to send a copy of your letter to the Navy Department, with the expression of my hope that the War Department would find it expedient to furnish you with means sufficient to undertake and successfully accomplish so desirable a work. I hope that you will soon be supplied with the necessary means to enable you to communicate to me your readiness to put the project into execution. I will be prompt as far as my means will allow to render all proper naval assistance.
With many thanks for the cordial manner in which you have met the proposition, and with many hopes for your success in the movement on Kinston, I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your,
S. P. LEE,
Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
UNITED STATES FLAG-SHIP MINNESOTA,
Off Newport News, Va., May 1, 1863.
Major General J. G. FOSTER, U. S. A.,
Commanding Department of North Carolina:
GENERAL: I had the honor to receive on the 27th ultimo your interesting and instructive communication of the 22nd ultimo, giving your views respecting the occupation of posts within the limits of your command.
It was only in connection with the occupation of such posts by the Navy, as a part of their defense, that the subject claimed my official attention.
I meant in my communication of the 17th to refer only to positions in the Sounds of North Carolina, and not to Fort Macon and Beaufort Harbor, the defense of which, and of Hatteras Inlet, is of obvious necessity.
As to Roanoke Island, I suppose it best that the abandoned rebel works there should be razed and the obstructions in Croatan Sound removed. Then such observation or police as would prevent any attempts at reconstruction might answer; but even if reoccupied by the enemy we could, if there were not too many other places to guard, concentrate and dislodge them. But this position does not receive naval occupation at present, and therefore is only referred to in view of future demands. Your views in respect to New Berne, Washington, and Plymouth possess great force. They would require considerable military defenses, however, to accomplish all you have in view. They are sickly places; Plymouth especially.
The enemy can build gunboats on the Tar above Washington, and on the Roanoke above Plymouth, though their facilities would be better at the towns if they held them.
The question with us is how many places can we profitably hold, comparing the advantages with the expense of possession. We do not hold Elizabeth City, Edenton, Hertford, Winfield, &c., nor does the enemy derive any visible advantage from having access to them.
My general view of our policy is to take places which the enemy has fortified; to level his works of defense, and then to leave these places as