done at Hatteras. The harbor at Ocracoke far exceeds in extent that at Hatteras, and by opening the former route the distance between this point and Beaufort, or any other point south of this, is shortened at least 45 miles.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I. N. PALMER,
[MAY 31, 1864.-For Ignis N. Palmer to L. Thomas, relative to evacuation of Washington, N. C., see Vol. XXXIII, p. 309.]
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA,
New Berne, N. C., May 31, 1864.
Major General BENJAMIN F. BUTLER,
Commanding Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, in the Field:
GENERAL: I did hope that before this time we would be able, even with our meager force, to do something to convince you that we were alive to the general situation of affairs. We may yet do so, but in my first enterprise I have been delayed by not having been able to obtain the co-operation of the navy. I have no complaints to make, as I do not know that there is any blame to be attached to any one. I have informed myself of what I believe to be the true state of affairs at Wilmington, and I believe confidently that we might capture Fort Fisher by a coup de main. I only need the assistance of two or three vessels to assist in transporting a small force of picked men, say 1,000, and of small boats to land them. The men were selected, all sent to Morehead, and Colonel Jourdan knew the ground. He went and made the examination himself around Masonborough Inlet, and I communicated through him my views and wishes to the senior naval officer off Wilmington (Captain Sands), and everything was, as I supposed, arranged for the departure of the force several days since. Yesterday, however, Colonel Jourdan came to inform me that Captain Sands, who has promised everything I desired, has gone north, and returned to beaufort, and from there he had proceeded to the blockading fleet without leaving any orders in relation to the expedition. As there is no officer at Morehead who will take the responsibility of furnishing the vessel, we are at a standstill. This morning I have dispatched a letter to Captain Sands, in which I have requested to be informed whether he [will] co-operate. If he will not, I must move my force in some other direction. My expedition to blow up the Roanoke ram I have not yet heard from.
The term of service of two of the regiments now here has nearly expired. This will leave me very short-handed. You know I am not in the habit of calling for help, but do you not think that they could spare a raw brigade, or even two regiments, from the troops around Washington City? I could soon put them into shape, and they could hold this place, while with the remaining old troops I could worry the enemy not a little. I would like to do a little more than "hold on here." I would like to kick a little. At the same time I have thought it not improper, on account of my communication with you being interrupted, to suggest to the Adjutant-General the matter of sending some of the force around Washington, if, indeed,