WASHINGTON, D. C., May 9, 1863.
Major-General FOSTER, New Berne, N. C.:
GENERAL: Your report, dated April 30, of the defense of Washington is just received. Both the President and Secretary of War have spoken in the highest praise of the gallantry of yourself and your troops in the defense of Washington against the superior forces of the enemy. It will rank among the most glorious operations of the war.
I have also just received your letters of the 5th instant asking for re-enforcements. I regret it is at present utterly impossible to give you any. Every available man was sent to Suffolk and to co-operate with General Hooker. I have the positive orders of the President to withdraw no troops at present from General Hunter's command. There is no other place from which troops can now be withdrawn. As you know, I have from the beginning had no hopes of success at Charleston, but the Navy insisted upon making the attack. It is unfortunate that so many things are undertaken at the same time; but this I cannot avoid. I think you will agree with me that our operations on the Mississippi River are much more important at the present time than any that can be carried on in North Carolina.
In regard to matters in Virginia we have our hands full. Troops cannot be withdrawn from there without great danger. Moreover, the President directed some months ago that no troops be taken from General Hooker's army. I hope we have soon get recruits by draft. It will be made very soon; but we cannot yet calculate positively upon the result.
Had General Hooker been successful on the Rappahannock it would have helped us very much in carrying out the conscription. Now we may possibly have some difficulty; but this will be overcome.
General Hooker failed to accomplish his main object on the Rappahannock but he met with no disaster. He believes the loss of the enemy to be much greater than his own and will immediately renew operations.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. W. HALLECK,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA, SEVENTH ARMY CORPS,
Fort Monroe, Va., May 10, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: The troops at Suffolk have been hard at work demolishing the enemy's works, which are very substantial and extended. They could not have been constructed during the three weeks of the investment by less than 30,000 or 40,000 men. I have ordered General Peck to take up all the rails on both roads from the Blackwater to Suffolk and send them to this fort. The enemy had already removed them from the first 3 miles beyond Suffolk, on the Weldon road, and had loosened the spikes on 6 miles more, either to carry them off for use on other roads or to construct iron-clad batteries in front of ours.
I desire to present to you some views in regard to holding Suffolk, and ask your decision in regard to them. Suffolk is no longer of any use to us as a position for making friends of the secessionists. The population there and in the surrounding country are bitter and implacable. The only object in holding it is to render the inland connection with North Carolina by the canals on the eastern side of the Dismal Swamp somewhat more