[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
NEW BERNE, N. C., August 14, 1863.
Major General JOHN J. PECK:
GENERAL: I hear that the iron-clad in the Roanoke, at Edwards Ferry, above Rainbow Bluff, is nearly completed. If not destroyed she may attack your fortified town on the water side. We have only wooden vessels to oppose her. I respectfully suggest to you the propriety of an expedition to destroy her at once.
Owing to the fortifications at Rainbow Bluff and the low stage of water on the Roanoke, the expedition must be mainly military. Lieutenant-Commander Flusser, at Plymouth, will give you all the aid in his power.
S. PHILLIPS LEE,
[Inclosure Numbers 2.]
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL COHEN.
NEW BERNE, N. C., August 18, 1863.
I am a naturalized citizen of Irish birth. Have lived twenty-one years in the United States and six years in North Carolina. When the war broke out I was carrying on a distillery at Tarborough. This business not being allowed, I turned my distillery into a grist mill. As a miller I was exempt from the conscription. When, on July 20, 1863, General Potter destroyed the vessels at Tarborough, my mill and property, worth $11,000, was burned by mistake by United States troops. Now I became liable to the conscription, and followed the United States troops here, where I am now employed in the quartermaster's department at the request of General Potter.
The work on the gunboat at Tarborough was begun in September last, continued one month, the stopped (in order to work on the iron-clads at Wilmington and afterward on the Roanoke),and was renewed only two weeks before General Potter destroyed it (July 20);at which time, about 20 feet of its amid-ships section had been put up in six parts of the frame of bottom, four parts making sides and angeles and tops. More of the frame, in sections, was ready to be put up. General Potter destroyed this,and two unarmed river steamboats. One (of iron, stern-wheel, drawing 20 inches, fast, and in good order) called Governor Morehead, owned by Myers, who took the lights from the house at Hatteras Inlet when the war broke out. The other, called General Hill (old,slow, and stern-wheel, drawing 6 feet),and owned by Willard. There was then a high flood in the river.
There were then no troops guarding the iron-clad building at Smith's, on the Roanoke, in Halifax County, 6 miles below Halifax town, and 40 by land from Tarborough. The iron-clads on the Roanoke are a ran gunboat like the Merrimac, and a floating battery, 40 feet square, with a Merrimac roof. This gunboat was launched about the 1st of July, 1863. Putting on her plating was begun a day or two before General Potter destroyed the boats at Tarborough. The plating is 2 inches through,and was brought from Wilmington;