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Headquarters, Department N. C. And so. Va., Weldon, N. C., April 25th, 1864.
Geneal,—In view of the great uncertainty still prevailing as to the point in this Department to which Burnside's expedition may be suddenly directed, I consider it my duty to call your attention to the present scattered condition of the only available troops at my command to oppose such an attack.

The temporary displacement of troops from their defensive positions for the support of General Hoke's expedition against Washington and Newbern was ordered by you, under the supposition that, with the assistance of the ironclad gunboat in the Roanoke and the one in the Neuse rivers, those two fortified positions would be taken by a rapid movement and a sudden attack; but already several days have elapsed since the fall of Plymouth, and, through various insurmountable obstacles, neither Washington nor Newbern have been attacked; moreover, General Corse from Kinston reports that the ironclad gunboat in the Neuse is hard aground, with the water falling rapidly. It is, then, probable that the contemplated expedition will require at least one week to be brought to a conclusion. Meanwhile, Burnside's movement on Petersburg or this place (Weldon), if made suddenly, would meet with but little resistance; and the communications of the forces in Virginia with the States of South Carolina and Georgia, whence they draw their principal supplies, could be effectually cut off at almost any moment.

Major-General Pickett has now at his command in his military district, for the protection of Petersburg, only about two thousand men of all arms. At this important point (Weldon) there is only one regiment (three hundred and fifty men) of State troops, under Colonel Hinton. At Goldsboroa there are only two hundred men of all arms; and in Wilmington, for its defence and to guard its approaches, only two regiments of Martin's and Evans's brigades.

The other movable troops of the Department are about as follows: sixteen regiments of infantry, one regiment of cavalry, and twenty-five pieces of artillery, amounting, in all, to about six thousand men, under Brigadier-General Hoke, now on the march from Plymouth to attack Washington.

Three regiments of Martin's brigade are at Plymouth and Harrellsville.

Two regiments of Evans's brigade and a section of light artillery, to guard prisoners taken at Plymouth, are at Tarboroa.

Five regiments of Corse's brigade, two regiments of Evans's brigade, seven companies of cavalry, twenty-five pieces of artillery are at Kinston, under Brigadier-General Walker, to support Hoke's attack on Newbern. By the enclosed ‘table of distances between the principal points in this Department’ it will be seen the utter impossibility of concentrating in time these troops for the defence of Petersburg, Weldon, or Wilmington, if suddenly attacked by a determined enemy.

I submit the above facts to your consideration in order that I may receive, as soon as practicable, the definite views of the Department on this important subject.

Having only just arrived in this Department, and not having yet received returns of the forces in it, I may have committed some errors in the number of

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R. F. Hoke (3)
Evans (3)
Martin (2)
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Burnside (2)
W. S. Walker (1)
G. E. Pickett (1)
Hinton (1)
Geneal (1)
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