FORT MAGRUDER, VA., May 30, 1864.
(Received 2.20 p. m.)
The forces reported at Barnett's Ford on Saturday is confirmed from 2 men sent out on Saturday night, who returned this a. m. They are infantry with some cavalry and part of a pontoon train with which they cross from Gordon's Island to each bank of the Chickahominy. Have sent out a party this a. m. to ascertain more fully their strength. Boats passing the mouth of the Chickahominy must look out for them.
WM. H. P. STEERE,
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA,
New Berne, N. C., May 30, 1864.
Brigadier-General THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army:
GENERAL: I beg leave respectfully to call your serious attention to the following facts: At the commencement of the present campaign in Virginia I was directed to send to General Butler every man that could be possibly spared from the defenses of those places in this State that had to be held at all hazards. I had full authority to concentrate my forces, but I did not deem it proper to abandon any of the places held by our forces except Little Washington. For the movement in Virginia one full regiment of cavalry, two of the best field batteries, and five regiments of infantry were sent to Fort Monroe from this place. I had every faith that I could hold the places under my command with the remaining forces, and while the armies are actively engaged in Virginia with my present force. I feel sure that if the navy will take care of the rebel ram in the sounds we can hold everything.
But it is my desire to do something more than this with the small force now here. I have organized two expeditions, one for the purpose of destroying the Roanoke ran and one to menace Wilmington, and with the small rebel force now in this State, I have a reasonable hope of accomplishing the former, and if we can do nothing more we can so annoy them at Wilmington that they may be obliged to divert a portion of their forces from Virginia. The rebel ram at Kinston shall also receive my attention, but I cannot do so many things at once. The terms of service for the Ninety-ninth New York and Seventeenth Massachusetts Volunteers have nearly expired, and when those regiments leave I will scarcely have men enough to man the works around this place. The line here is some 5 miles in extent, and the line of outposts is 12 miles long. Should no troops arrive to replace those regiments so soon to be discharged it will leave a very meager force, not sufficient I fear to resist a force which the enemy ought to send here, for the capture of this place with its stores, its immense number of negroes, & c., would be of incalculable advantage to them. Could not a small force, a brigade or even two regiments, be sent here from the forces about Washington? General Butler being now in the field, and my communication with him being interrupted, I shall send this communication direct to the Adjutant-General of the Army.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. N. PALMER,