mattox and Blackwater, and that his force consists of his former brigade and Jenkins' brigade; Davis' and Cooke's brigades to be detached from your department and directed to report to General Lee. This arrangement will take place with least practicable delay, and you will give the necessary orders. The two regiments of Ransom's old brigade now here will be directed to report to you at Petersburg for your instructions. It is believed and hoped that, as this arrangement will leave you five brigades and three regiments of cavalry and such additional force as you will be able to get from the bridge and provost-marshal guards and the guard of prisoners at Salisbury, your force will be equal to the wants of the service in your department. Should the enemy move up from South Carolina you can in that even be re-enforced from that quarter.
Very respectfully, &c.,
Adjutant and Inspector General.
KINSTON, May 31, 1863.
General D. H. HILL, Commanding:
GENERAL: There is nothing of special interest to communicate. My time since my arrival has been spent upon the roads, and I hope to be thoroughly acquainted with the country soon.
The line of defense along the Southwest is too long as a fighting line for this small force. Regiments scattered at the different crossings could not be readily concentrated. On the Neuse and Dover roads we could resist successfully the enemy's advance, but men could not be spared for the other roads. If the enemy should advance upon either of the other roads-that is, the Upper Trent and Wilmington-do you not think it would be hazarding too much if we should cross over to assail him in rear without having a force sufficient to check him in front? If we should whip him it would of course cure any imperfections in the plan; but if in the chances of war it should be otherwise the result might be disastrous. Whatever your skill and experience may suggest as the best course I shall endeavor to execute with all my power, and I trust you will give me your views in full and specifically.
The new bridge will be completed in a day or two. Details are at work on the batteries and rifle-pits. Other details will be made to cut the roads and fell the timber as soon as the engineer is ready for them. When the work is done I think the town can be held against a much superior force. From the most reliable information that I have received I think that the force in New Berne does not exceed 7,000 or 8,000 effective men. None of the regiments there have yet gone out of service. Major Whitford has sent in 10 Yankees captured and 3 deserters. As he desired to see you on business I have consented that he conduct them to you.
If nothing more important demands my attention I shall keep enterprises on foot to destroy the railroad bridge or damage the road between New Berne and Morehead City, and other things that may be harassing and troublesome.
For the sake of the country and for my own character I trust that no disaster or unpleasant circumstance will occur in this hitherto unfortunate section while the responsibility rests upon my shoulders. You may rest assured that I will exert myself to prevent it.
Very truly, your obedient servant,
A. H. COLQUITT,