This statement I am sorry to say is extremely inaccurate and injurious to me. You seem to have overlooked my correct statement of this matter in another communication to you of the 4th instant, to which you promised in another communication of the 5th instant to reply "when relieved from the pressure of (your) present very urgent duties."
On Wednesday, the 18th of March, Colonel Ludlow, returning with a flag of truce from City Point, in a note dated Tuesday, informed me that the "rebels are very much strengthening their works at Old Fort Powhatan and seem to have a large force in garrison there." Notwithstanding this reoccupation was a military act performed within the military lines of your department, I did not wait for you to call on me for co-operation, but went to see you the next day on the subject. You stated that the enemy was already on this side of the Blackwater with 28,000 men, a larger force than yours, and that you could not act in the matter. You showed me the position of Fort Powhatan (not laid down on my chart) about 10 miles from Harrison's Point. You asked me, with the usual complimentary opinion of the army as to the ability of the gunboats not only to protect but to take forts, if my gunboats could not "shell them out."
In view of the failure for want of military co-operation of a better iron-clad and gunboat force than I then had to "shell them out" of Fort Darling, I explained to you why your suggestion was impracticable and left you, as I supposed, satisfied on that point.
This occurred seven instead of several weeks ago, nor did I then understand you as "expressing an earnest desire that some of our gunboats should drive him away before any guns were mounted," for the reason that, with the facts then fresh in your memory, you knew as well as I did from Colonel Ludlow's report of the previous day that the enemy had a large force in garrison there, and you could not possibly have supposed that he would have garrisoned his fort with a large force when it was without guns.
I trust, general, there can be no settled purpose to do me injustice, and therefore ask you to correct this error.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, yours,
S. P. LEE,
Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.
SUFFOLK, May 9, 1863.
From all the information I can get, about two divisions are on the Blackwater. Spear is very sick. When he recovers I shall feel of something.
JOHN J. PECK,
YORKTOWN, May 9, 1863.
Major General JOHN A. DIX:
General Gregg was ordered to destroy the bridges referred to. I only burned those over the Chickahominy. I do not know that he succeeded, but was told by prisoners that he did.