STAUNTON, December 14, 1861.
General S. COOPER:
Dispatch from Colonel Johnson states that the enemy attacked him yesterday 5,000 strong, but was repulsed with great loss afte an enagement of seven hours. The battle commenced at 7 a. m. Johnson's force was 1,200. The two regiments in rear have since re-enforced. His report willb e sent by mail.*
W. W. LORING,
OFFICER ALBEMARLE AND CHESAPEAKE CANAL COMPANY,
Norfolk, Va., December 15, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War, Richmond:
SIR: The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal Company are engatged in constructing a canal from the southern branch of the Elizabeth River, above the navy-yard, to Albemarle Sound, via Currituck, forming, when completed, an inland navigation from t he Chesapeake to Beaufort, N. C., and other southern ports, for steam-boats and other vessels drawing not exceeding seven feet and a half of water. our locks, w hich are the largest perhaps in the Southern Confederacy, are 40 feet wide and 220 feet long, capabel of passing vesels of 600 tons. This work was projected and undertaken some seven years ago bysuch individual stockholders as could be induced to think favorably of the project, since which liberal aid has been furnished by the State of North Carolina. In the construction of the work we have encoutered the greatest difficulties in the excavation. Our course lay through a dense cypress swamp covered with water and stumps of mammoth size, underlying a heavy growth of gum and cypress. Finding we could accomplish nothing in the usual mode of excavation, by spades and shovels, we had recourse to the mighty agency of steam, and when that failed, powder accomplished what we desired. After six years of unremitting toil, a larger portion of which time we worked boht day and night, we were enabled to get a navigation for vessels drawing five feet. Pushing forward our work with the aid of the revenue we received from a rapidly increasing business, we were enabled by the commencedment of the war to get six feet throughout the whole line, while for many miles it is completed to t he depth of eight feet. The war has caused nearly a total suspension of our trade, conseuqently our revenue is not sufficinet to prosecute the work further, and unless we can obtain assistance it must stop. We have aforded transportation for all the heavy ordnance, have passed 184 gun-boats and army transports since September 1, for which service to this time we have not received one dollar. Owing to the present unfinished condition of the work, I fear if we should becompelled to stop all our machines the caving of the banks, caused by the reckless manner in which Government steamers navigate it, setting at defiance all our established rules, willc ause a diminished, if not a total, suspension of the navigation. It is for this reason I deem it myd uty to inform you of it, that you may take such action as you may deem necessary to keep open so important a communication with North Carolina. We shall be compelled to discharge all hands by the 25th instant unless we can obtrain menas to carry on the work. Should the Confederate Government
*See VOL. V, p, 460.