the battery was taken (as General Peck well knows, because it was in my telegram to him in answer to one from him), but when the battery was taken I immediately informed General Getty that I cordially allowed the boats to remain. In view of the exertions I had made to equip and maintain a little flotilla to aid you whilst you were perfecting your defenses, of the service that flotilla had rendered you, and your knowledge that its withdrawal from above the battery, though necessary and proper, was not by my order, you must feel that the assault made on me by the well-known correspondent at the fort, who gave point to his attack by declaring that he was reflecting your feelings, was most unwarrantable.
This correspondent, in the same inspired communication (for in that light he has presented his reflections to the public), also charges me with being at fault for the reoccupation by the rebels of their abandoned earthworks, called Fort Powhatan, in the upper part of James River. This reoccupation was a military act done in your department. When Colonel Ludlow informed me of it on his return down James River in a flag of truce I did not wait for you to ask me to co-operate, but I went immediately to confer with you on the subject. Your reply was that you could do nothing; that the enemy was on this side of the Blackwater in greater force than yourself; but you asked me if I could not shell them out. I confess that I was a little surprised at this expectation, in view of the failure, from want of army co-operation, of a better force than I had to shell the enemy out of Fort Darling, which had no rebel navy to support it.
The reoccupation of Fort Powhatan was the easy and natural effort of the enemy, who had remained in possession of the Blackwater in front of Suffolk (between Suffolk and Fort Powhatan) for the last eight months. Where an active enemy holds military possession of a country in force he may not only reoccupy his forts on his river front, but he may, where there is no military interference, build forts on the bluffs of the river where he had none before. One of our gunboats as proposed, or several of them, aided by the one iron-clad I then had, could not have driven him from Fort Powhatan after he had reoccupied it.
Under the circumstances of this case the unfounded and injurious assaults made by a correspondent at the fort, who is under your immediate authority and who professedly writes from military intelligence communicated to him there, it seems both proper and decent that his unfounded charges against the Navy Department and myself should be publicly corrected by the same authority under which he claimed and is understood by the public to write.
The current duties of the squadron require and receive my first attention. It is only when they are disposed of that I can give attention to matters even of this interest.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your,
S. P. LEE,
Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA, SEVENTH ARMY CORPS,
Fort Monroe, May 4, 1863.
Major General J. G. FOSTER:
MY DEAR GENERAL: General Naglee is here. I have no cavalry to spare, as I have an important movement to make.
We had a sharp fight at Suffolk yesterday; our loss nearly 70; the enemy's not known.