War of the Rebellion: Serial 049 Page 0277 Chapter XLI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. -UNION.

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ment Massachusetts Volunteers, Eighty-first Regiment New York Volunteers, Ninety-eighth Regiment New York Volunteers.

General Heckman will come in command. Transportation will be sent for the troops.

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VI. The commanding officer of the Ninety-ninth Regiment New York Volunteers will prepare the regiment to be embarked for New Berne, N. C.

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VII. The commanding officer of the Nineteenth Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers will at once prepare his regiment to be embarked for New Berne, N. C., on steamer Convoy.

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By command of Major General J. G. Foster:


Assistant Adjutant-General.


Washington, October 10, 1863.

Major General J. G. FOSTER,

Fort Monroe:

GENERAL: Your letter of the 8th, marked "private," is just received.

Your effective force by your last return was over 19,000 men. You hold many important places and have a very long line of defense. Yet, it is desirable, as you say, that something active should be done by your army, at least to annoy the enemy and keep in check a part of his forces, if nothing more.

As Burnside could not be pursuaded to go to Rosecrans' assistance (I telegraphed to him fifteen times to do so, and the President three or four times), it became necessary to send him two corps from the Army of the Potomac, thus destroying all our plans here. Had it not been for this contretemps, I proposed to re-enforce you, so that you could co-operate with Meade. The only object, or, at least, the main one, of holding Yorktown and Gloucester has been to keep open the road to West Point, from which place the Army of the Potomac must get its supplies, if the enemy falls back to the defenses of Richmond. At present it seems impossible to give you much assistance without breaking up Meade's army.

I am very certain that a large detachment from Lee's army has been sent west, and that Meade is greatly superior to him in numbers. Nevertheless, Meade seems unwilling to attack him without positive orders. To order a general to give battle against his own wishes and judgment is to assume the responsibility of a probable defeat. If a general is unwilling to fight, he is not likely to gain a victory. That army fights well when attacked, but all its generals have been unwilling to attack, even very inferior numbers. It certainly is a very strange phenomenon.

I am not sufficiently acquainted with localities in your department to advise exactly what you had better undertake. It seems to me, however, that an attempt to hold so many points on the James River will so weaken your active forces that you can accomplish nothing of importance. Fort Powhatan would, I think, be of very