Telegrams.The following telegrams reflect much light upon the campaign:
In my report of December twenty-fifth, 1863, I stated that on the fourth of May, while in pursuit, a telegram was received directing me to send six thousand men and several batteries to West Point. Ten thousand more were ordered to be held in readiness to move at a moment's notice. These orders, of course, ended offensive operations. A base was established at West Point, and abandoned when it was found that General Hooker was not likely to advance again. The present is the proper occasion for saying that the army of Suffolk was in no manner connected with the campaign planned by General Hooker. The public has been under the impression that I was charged with a co-operative movement on Richmond. Such was not the case. General Hooker, with his vast army, was confident of destroying Lee, taking the rebel capital at pleasure, and conducted the campaign in his own way. I volunteered to aid him in so far as was possible, but he declined to give any intimation of his plan or his purposes. For twenty-four days the army of Suffolk held one wing of Lee's army, which outnumbered it nearly two to one (as I assured General Hooker), that he might win the crowning victor of the war. Had he been successful my command would have been entitled to share the glory with the army of the Potomac. Is not the army of Suffolk entitled to as much credit as if General Hooker had been victorious? Certainly. How that credit shall be estimated, is arrived at by placing Longstreet with Lee at Chancellorsville. If Lee, with fifty odd thousand, forced General Hooker over the Rappahannock, no doubt that with ninety thousand he would have demoralized his army. Independent of the credit of holding Longstreet's army from Lee, my command is entitled to great honor for saving itself, many thousand contrabands, the Navy Yard, Norfolk, and Portsmouth, two railways, eighty odd miles of track, and the navigation of the James and Hampton Roads. The value of this latter service may be appreciated by supposing I had been overwhelmed by Longstreet. Defeat at Chancellorsville and Suffolk would indeed have disheartened the people and embarrassed the government at one of the most critical periods of its domestic and foreign relations. With such defeats the nation would have had no glorious Gettysburg in 1863, to gladden loyal hearts by stemming and turning back the aggressive tide of rebellion. I am, very respectfully Your obedient servant,Longstreet has at least 60,000 men, and will attack you as soon as his material is on the ground. They expect to get in your rear, have exact drawings of all your works, and know your force and means. Hood's division is the largest of all. They are building three bridges on the Blackwater, and have a large pontoon train.E. L. Viele. Brig.-General.
Blackwater. Have pontoon bridges. Our generals intend to attack Suffolk.” (Signed)
Major-General, Lee's right hand man, was down on the Blackwater last week, and reconnoitred the whole position. (Signed)
Petersburg, to be used in crossing the Blackwater in five places. This information is reliable. (Signed)D. L. Van Buren, Col. and Asst. Adj.-General.
April, 10, 1863.Information has been received at Newport News that rebel gunboats are removing channel obstructions from before them, and placing others in their rear, preparatory to coming down the river.
John Peck, Major-General.