cold accomplish anything at Washington; on the contrary, you seemed to have but little hope in your own letter, and frequently forwarded letters from General Garnett which always argued the utter impossibility of your being able to accomplish anything. Under these circumstances I called for the troops to be returned to me that I might put them at other work, for we have already been idle too long. Then came your letter of the 2nd, which was fully of encouragement and hope. I sent you, instead of four guns, as you desired, six, and sent you authority to retain General Garnett's brigade. After your letter of the 2nd came one of the 4th, which, I believe, was more desponding than your previous letters, and expressing the opinion that nothing but heavy artillery would answer any good purpose. I then sent my order for Garnett's brigade to return and the six pieces of artillery. Your letter of the 5th revives much hope again, and I now authorize you to retain General Garnett and the six field pieces if they are important to you. I fear from the tone of General Garnett's letters that he was so well satisfied that Washington could not be taken that he was not even willing to make the effort. Because things are not laid down in the book it does not follow that things cannot be done. You mention for the first time that General Foster is below you wish a succoring force. If that be so New Berne must be weak and General Ransom might get a position below it, which will leave it in the same condition as Washington. I would have been glad to have left General Kemper at Kinston to aid in such a purpose had I been advised. You have enough force for this and your own work without him, however; that is, if you have not sent General Garnett back. If there is a good point below New Berne where a battery can be placed which will cut off the garrison from succor you had better have it fortified at once. You will readily see the advantage of this without my going into details. The Secretary of War telegraphed General Whiting yesterday that he should hold General Ransom ready to go to South Carolina. General Whiting telegraphed me to know what he should do. He is ordered to leave General Ransom ready to go to South Carolina. General Whiting telegraphed me to know what he should do. He is ordered to leave General Ransom where he is, but the Secretary is advised that General Evans may be spared, but it is the only brigade at Wilmington. Communicate with me at Franklin, either by telegraph or otherwise. Anything of the ordnance department send to Colonel P. T. Manning at this place. If General Ransom can get a good position below New Berne which he can fortify I think Colonel Manning can send him some heavy guns.
I remain, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
P. S.-I fully appreciate the importance of your success. Besides the bacon and corn that you speak of it ought to give us the coast of North Carolina sa far as the mouth of the Chowan at least.
Petersburg, Va., April 7, 1863.
General R. E. LEE, Commanding:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 5th is received. General Hill reports the enemy in the river below him with a considerable succoring force under General Foster; that his fort, some distance below, keeps the