SIGNAL DEPT. HDQRS. ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
October 8, 1863.
Major General A. A. HUMPHREYS,
Chief of Staff:
Communication is open with General Kilpatrick, via Pony Mountain and Thoroughfare.
The reason why your question was not previously answered was on account of the thickness of the atmosphere between Cedar Mountain and Thoroughfare.
I have the honor to be, &c.,
L. B. NORTON,
Captain, and Chief Signal Officer.
PRIVATE.] HDQRS. DEPT. OF VA. AND N. C.,
Fort Monroe, Va., October 8, 1863.
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief, U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:
GENERAL: I feel desirous to do something, and although my force is very small, I hope, by substituting the defense of citadels for that of the long line, as Williamsburg, Yorktown, Gloucester, and Getty's line, outside of Portsmouth, to obtain a small but effective movable column. The sickness which has prevailed at Williamsburg, Gloucester, Yorktown, and throughout the whole of North Carolina, has very much enfeebled the troops and made them for a time incapable of long marches. They are, however, available for expeditions by water, and what marches I may be forced to make can be borne by the negro troops. This is the case in the expedition now out scouring Matthews County, of which the infantry is wholly composed of negro troops. To come to the point, I propose (now that I am obliged to understand that the troops sent to the Department of the South cannot be replaced so as to give me force enough to go to Weldon or to take Fort Caswell) to undertake little operations in succession, calculated to attract the attention of the enemy and draw off his force, which can be made very safe by means of the aid of the navy and the army boats.
The first point is Fort Powhatan, now deserted, which I propose to seize and turn into a small but strong work for us, from which I can commence a system of cavalry raids. Then, as soon as this has attracted the attention of the enemy so as to accumulate force enough to stop the operations of the cavalry, to seize a point on the other shore of the James, higher up, say, at Wilcox's or Swyanyard's Wharves, or Harrison's Landing, and pursue the same game. Tehn, with a small increase of force, city Point may be seized an fortified, and a dash be made toward Petersburg. To make sure of taking it will require quite an increase of force, say, 20,000 men; but this force can be sent, if you judge expedient, at any time. All that I can do now is to annoy the enemy, and from time to time to accumulate a force to meet an apprehended attack. If this meets with your approval, I will at once enter upon the necessary preparations.
I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,