to lay off works at a point 5 miles above Greenville and obstruct the river, in obedience to orders from Major General G. W. Smith. These works must be pressed forward with great energy. You will at once report fully to Major-General French all your operations for the defense of the Tar and Roanoke Rivers, receive his orders as to the points to be occupied, and act in all things in full concert with the troops under his command. Substantial obstructions should be placed at once in the two rivers. You will give these works your immediate and constant attention. If a pile-driver is necessary to the building of the obstructions have one completed at the earliest moment practicable.
Your obedient servant,
J. F. GILMER,
Colonel of Engineers and Chief of Bureau.
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., January 3, 1863.
General R. E. LEE:
SIR: I write to give you rather fuller information than the telegraph readily allows of the various items of intelligence we have of the movements of the enemy on the bay and in North Carolina, and of the surmises they give rise to. For some days past from various sources, represented as reliable but communicated at second hand and in rather a vague form, I have been informed that there was a large fleet of transports in the bay, estimated by one as 100 in number, by another as being fully as numerous as when McClellan's army was being transported to the Peninsula. As I did not know the informants, and the accounts, I felt sure, must be exaggerated, I thought it prudent to give you notice, but did not attach much weight to them. Last night, however, there was handed me by Mr. Jones, the delegate in the Virginia Assembly from Gloucester, a letter from his brother, whom I knew well, giving not only what he had collected but what had been reported by two of General Wise's scouts. That letter* I inclose. Its substantial accuracy may be, I think, relied on. I infer from it that there is some decided movement in contemplation by the enemy. They may be bringing down troops from Washington and Annapolis and carrying others back, or they may be bringing troops from Burnside's army. Mr. Dudley, the president of the York River Railroad, has just called to inform me that a man living in Matthews County, near New Point, whom he believes perfectly reliable, reports more than 100-indeed, than 200-vessels were seen by him a few days ago to come from toward the mouth of the Potomac and proceed toward Old Point. I cannot believe in any such number, especially as you are sure Burnside has not sent off any considerable force, and that no large number of transports have proceeded down the Potomac. I have no information of any considerable number now in the bay. I have also intelligence that the forces at Suffolk were lately largely re-enforced, and that a force of some 5,000 have preceded them by Gatesville, toward North Carolina. I learn that immediately after the return of the late Federal expedition to New Berne General Foster proceeded to Old Point; then, after a short delay, proceeded to Washington, and very soon returned and set off at once for New Berne. We have, too, information from the same person who gave very accurate information from New Berne of the late foray of the enemy from there, that another expedition is being