War of the Rebellion: Serial 049 Page 0212 OPERATIONS IN N. C.,VA.,W. VA.,MD., AND PA. Chapter XLI.

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undue sensitiveness. I trust you will regard it so, and believe that I shall be happy to avail myself of your experience and knowledge of this country at all times.




Washington City, September 19, 1863.

Major General J. G. FOSTER,

Commanding Dept. of Va. and N. C., Fort Monroe, Va.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to inclose herewith a copy of a letter of the 17th instant from the honorable Secretary of the Navy, in relation to an alleged threatened attack on Plymouth, and the contemplated attempt to take possession of the sounds of North Carolina.

The Secretary of War directs that you will take such action in the premises as may in your judgment be best suited to meet the emergency thus presented.

I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,




September 17, 1863.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

SIR: I have the honor to present for your consideration a subject of great importance connected with the maintaining possession of the sounds of North Carolina.

Information received from time to time places it beyond a doubt that the rebels are constructing, and have nearly completed, at Edwards Ferry, near Weldon, on the Roanoke River, a ram and an iron-clad floating battery. It is represented that these vessels will be formidable, and will be completed in the course of four or six weeks. It is further represented that an attack by land and water on Plymouth is contemplated.

Our force of wooden vessels in the sounds, necessarily of light draught and lightly armed, will by no means be adequate to contend against the rebel ram and battery, should they succeed in getting down the Roanoke, and in that event our possession of the sounds would be jeopardized. It is impracticable for our vessels to ascend the Roanoke to any great distance in consequence of the shallowness of the water, their exposed situation from the fire of sharpshooters, and the earth-works represented to be located at different points, particularly at Rainbow Bluff.

Were our iron-clads now completed available for service in the sounds they could not be sent there, as they draw too much water to cross the bulkhead at Hatteras. Our lighter draught ones will not be completed for some time to come. In view of all these facts, I deem it proper to suggest the importance of an effort on the part of the army to surprise and destroy the rebel r m and battery referred to, or of obstructing the river by torpedoes and piles, or otherwise, so as to prevent their descent. Permit me to urge some measure of this sort.