I inclose you a statement of the artillery on the Blackwater and near Petersburg.* The heavy batteries of Dabney and Smoot are intended to operate on the rivers and are best for that purpose. I wish you to send me a report of the field batteries in North Carolina, and would be glad to know whether you have any surplus of good ones.
R. E. LEE,
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., May 28, 1863.
Major General D. H. HILL, Commanding, &c.:
GENERAL: Your letter of to-day has been just sent me by the Adjutant-General, and I learn with some surprise that both Ransom's brigade and that of General Jenkins have been ordered from your department to join General Lee. I received on yesterday a telegram from General Lee, recommending that Cooke's brigade should be ordered to this city, and suggesting that in case of need General Beauregard should re-enforce you. On conference with the President, to whom this telegram was exhibited, it was resolved before giving a positive order for such movement to consult you as to its effect on the safety of your command. General Lee must have concluded this recommendation had not been complied with when he ordered up Ransom's and Jenkins'. From your exhibition of the forces of the enemy in North Carolina I am of the same opinion with yourself, that with a knowledge of the facts both brigades would not have been ordered from you. The best plan will be, as you have started Ransom's brigade, to send that on and retain both Jenkins' and Cooke's, at least until further communication can be had with General Lee and his counsel taken on the new aspect presented by your statement of the enemy's forces in North Carolina.
General Lee evidently supposes that the forces of the enemy have been largely withdrawn from both North Carolina and Suffolk and have been concentrated on the Rappahannock and at West Point. He states in his telegram that Foster has been withdrawn, and he presumes with his force has been sent to one or other of the last-named points. It will certainly be better that he should have fuller information before you carry out his instructions fully.
With high esteem, very respectfully, yours,
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF THE CAPE FEAR,
Wilmington, May 28, 1863.
Major General D. H. HILL,
Commanding, &c., Petersburg:
GENERAL: I have your letter, and don't like the news either of Ransom's departure or the force of the enemy. What can we do? Cooke cannot defend Kinston by himself and I cannot aid him. I should find hard work to hold Wilmington by my force, and he cannot aid me. I don't think Beauregard can help me now. Do try and get some troops down here. They will surely make a raid on the railroad as soon as they learn you are gone, and the scoundrels hear almost everything.