HEADQUARTERS CABELL'S BATTERY,
Gloucester point, May 11, 1861.
Colonel J. B. MAGRUDER:
SIR: I reconnoitered the country yesterday evening to the mouth of the York River. Colonel Taliaferro with his fast tem accompanied me. We were insight of the river the whole distance. The country is a dead level roads fine. I had heard so much of steamers lying at the mouth of the river that I wished to see for myself. Their lying at the mouth of the river, if you will excuse the language, was all a lie so far as I could tell by the eye. I do not see why a battery should not be placed immediately at the mouth of the river. It would clear the blockade at once. The country is favorable for this battery. It would require perhaps a large force to protect the planting of the guns in position. Two heavy columbiads have been planted here, and two more have been landed and will be placed at once I position. Is it proper that I should daily communicate to you or to Colonel Taliaferro! Answer at once. I will write to- morrow. One of my men will return to- day, being on the sick list. Have I command of other artillery companies placed at the same post! My tents will be finished to- day.
HENRY COALTER CABELL,
HEADQUARTERS COAST DEFENSES,
Wilmington, N. C., May 11, 1861.
Brigadier General S. COOPER,
GENERAL: I am able to report a little progress toward placing the coast of North Carolina in condition to resist attack; but affairs are by no means so satisfactory as I would like to see them. This is due to the entire want of preparation, organization, and military experience existing in the State. As to Orracoke and Hatteras Inlets, and the sounds to which they are the communication, their great importance is recognized. I refer you to the report of Colonel Ellwood Morris, herewith inclosed, and my opinion upon its suggestions.* A copy of letter Numbers 2 of Colonel Morris shows, however, that he is continuing his work, I can only hope that the delay to he enemy will enable him to succeed. The command of these sounds by the enemy will be a most serious blow to the State. The largest corn district we have may be interfered with; the cities of Elizabeth, Plymouth, Edenton, and New Berne are by them exposed to attack, while numerous isolated or distant plantations might lose their slaves or be otherwise plundered or destroyed. I have reliable information given by one of our most respectable citizens returned from new York, to the effect that the Government at Washington have purchased and are arming numerous steamers of very light draft fort he blockade of Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds and the North Carolina inlets.
New Berne, on the Neuse, is of the utmost importance, as commanding the line of communication with Fort Macon by the Atlantic Railroad. This road, starting from Morehead City, in Beaufort Harbor, connects via New Berne with the Wilmington and Weldon and the Raleigh Railroad at Goldsborough. passing as it does near the line of the Lower Neuse River, and accessible by various necks as well as by land, its defense becomes in our present condition a matter of great.
*Inclosures not found.