you a joint expedition to take Fort Powhatan, Petersburg, and perhaps Richmond. I am ready to move at a moment's notice and will co-operate with you in any and every way possible. My gunboats and a few companies will hold your posts at Suffolk and Yorktown.
The opportunity for striking a great blow is such as rarely presents itself in the history of nations. I am confident you will improve it.
I have the honor, general, to be, very respectfully, your,
S. P. LEE,
Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
UNITED STATES FLAG-SHIP MINNESOTA,
Off Newport News, Va., May 4, 1863.
Major General JOHN A. DIX, U. S. A.,
Commanding Seventh Army Corps, Fortress Monroe, Va.:
GENERAL: I have received your communication of the 2nd instant. Unfounded and unjust newspaper attacks on the Navy Department and myself by a known correspondent at the fort under your command are certainly injurious to the public service, whether they are contradicted and repelled in the same manner, thus creating controversy between public officers and exposure of public affairs, or whether they are allowed to remain unanswered. The discipline of the Navy does not sanction a resort to newspapers to remedy a wrong thus wantonly done. It is wholly inexcusable to resort to newspaper attacks in cases where an appeal can be taken to and a remedy applied by the Government to matters affecting the public interests.
The only order I gave for the withdrawal of the gunboats from the Upper Nansemond was on the 19th, when I sent the fleet captain to Suffolk to communicate with the authorities and withdraw the gunboats if practicable. This order was revoked the same day at the instance of General Peck by an order sent by me through your headquarters in a dispatch to General Peck. When that order was given you had been re-enforced largely; you had just provided military defenses for the right bank of the Upper Nansemond; the improvised little gunboats were not a sufficient or necessary defense there and were much wanted elsewhere and their communications were interrupted by a battery in a strong earthwork, which had cut up several of them badly, killed or wounded a large per cent. of their small crews, whilst two detachments of troops according to the official reports to me had failed to co-operate with Lieutenant Lamson to take the battery and raise the blockade.
On the afternoon of the 19th efficient support (by General Getty in person) was given to Lieutenant Lamson's plan, and he landed the 300 troops close to and in rear of the battery, and, aided by them, got his four navy field-pieces up the bank and taking the enemy's battery in reverse stopped their attempt to turn it on our troops, who gallantly dashed in and easily took it. The surprise was complete.
Next day, the 20th, General Peck abandoned this earthwork, the rear to which in the mean time had been strengthened by our troops. This evacuation was earnestly resisted by Lieutenant Cushing and Lamson, and obliged the latter to drop down a few hundred yards from the battery and just below the bar which it commanded. Thus General Peck and not myself caused the gunboats to withdraw.
My subsequent orders to Lieutenant Lamson did not prevent but required this gallant and willing young officer to render the army all practicable assistance. I should mention that I not only revoked my order of the 19th to Captain Crosby before it was executed and before