FORT CASWELL, N. C., January 1, 1862.
Captain R. B. HEATH,
SIR: In ob; edience to Special Orders, Numbers 158, from the headquarters District of the Cape Fear, I have assumed command of Fort Caswell, N. C., and relieved Lieutenant-Colonel Faison, Twentieth North Carolina Volunteers, from duty at this post. I have made as thorough an examination as the circumstances allow into t he burning of the light-boat [on] Fryingpan Shoals, and beg leave to report that the fire was discovered at about 2.15 a. m. by the sentinel opposite toher. The fire must have been built up in the hold or cabin of the vessel, and when discovered had made too much progress to admit the hope of saving the boat, and the commanding officer determined to sink her. He caused five shots from a smooth-bore 8-inch columbiad to fire into her, four taking effect near the water-line, from the effects of which she gradually sank, but the water being shoal there was still wood-work enough left above the water to cause her to burn the day of the 31st and part of the same night. By day of the 1st of January she ceased to burn and had drifted from 400 to 600 yards up the stream, and there lies at present. In her present position she is of no use in obstructing the channel. No information can be had of the manner and by whom she was set on fire, but judging from a light being seen proceeding toward the blockading vessel, and rockets being thrown up, I concluded she must have been fired by a boat party sent from the blockading vessel with muffled oars. From what I learn the night was dark and considrable noise made by the surf, and a small boat with muffled oars could have reached the light-boat, fired her, and gone off without being discovered. A small boat in coming to the Fryingpan Shoals need not have approached the beach in coming to the Fryingpan Shoals need not have approached the beach at any time closer than the light-boat, and by tanding directly in the chances of her being seen or heard by the pickets were greatly diminished. The picket on the beach has been increased.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
John A. BROWN,
Colonel, Provisional Army, C. S., Commanding Post.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA, Numbers 2.
January 3, 1862.
In accordance with instructions of the Secretary of War, whenever supplies are needed by the commissary or quartermaster's department of this army, and persons holding such supplies refuse to sell, or ask exorbitant prices for the same, commissioned officers of each of these departments will, under the immediate orders of their chiefs, impress such supplies, paying a fair market value for them in Confederate money.
By command of General Johnston:
THOS. G. RHETT,
Richmond, Va., January 3, 1862.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War, Confederate States of America:
SIR: The inclosed circular was sent to this office by General Magruder a day or two since and forwarded as addressed. The Governor has