HEADQUARTERS, Evansport, February 24, 1862.
General W. H. C. WHITING:
GENERAL: I have maturely considered your dispatch, and I have counseled with Captain Chatard, C. S. Navy, and Colonel J. J. Pettigrew. Captain Chatard, under the existing circumstances, deems it impracticable. Colonel Pettigrew thinks a part might be put on rafts and got to Aquia Creek. For my part I deem the attempt to get them there by water with our means, in the face of the enemy, impracticable and hazardous. The steamers gaurd the river closely and the enemy from the opposite shore see everything at the batteries, and you may rest assured that by the time two-thirds of them are dismounted it will be discovered and an attack be made by the steamers and from the guns opposite. To-day two siege guns have been brought downinto the center of an open field, where they now are and opposite Cockpit; one tent is near them and two sentries guard them. If the guns are to be removed let it be by land and let preparations be made first to get them to Aquia, thence by boats to Aquia Creek. But as I have said, before they can be all removed I am sure it will be discovered and invite attack. Last night a steamer came up in the dense fog and threw a few shells at us.
Yours, very respectfully,
S. G. FRENCH,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA, Goldsborough, February 24, 1862.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond, Va.:
GENERAL: Since my last report of the forces sent to defend the railroad bridge at Weldon and to protect the inhabitants in that section of the State I have added to it one company of cavalry, and four other cavalry companies are now en route to Bertie and Northampton Counties. They will probably reach their destination before the week is over. I have just received from Colonel Clarke, Twenty-fourth Regiment North Carolina Troops, commanding at Murfreesborough, a copy of a letter of instructions from Brigadier-General Randolph, dated at that place on the 23rd instant, directing him to assume command of the forces between the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers, &c. I infer from this that Brigadier-General Randolph has been invested by the War Department with authority to assume command over a portion of the Department of North Carolina, although I have received no intimation of it from your office or from Brigadier-General Randolph himself. I had the honor to draw your attention, in my letter of the 20th instant, to the fact of Colonel Clarke's being at Garysburg with a body of troops said to have been placed under the orders of General Huger, and to point out the conflict of authority already existing between the offices in that section of this department acting under different commanderse. To a curtailment of my department I can offer no reasonable objection, but justice to myself as well as the public interest demands that I should be informed of any changes the War Department may think proper to make.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. C. GATLIN,