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headquarters Eighteenth Army corps, Newbern, August 17, 1863.
Major-General J. G. Foster, commanding Department of Virginia and North Carolina, Fortress Monroe:
On the fifteenth instant I received a communication from Admiral Lee, United States Navy, to the effect that the iron-clad on the Roanoke, at Edwards' Ferry, was nearly completed.

On the sixteenth I reached Plymouth, and had an interview with General Wessels and Captain Flusser. Some deserters had just arrived, and from them the following information was elicited in respect to Rainbow Bluff, etc., etc.: Three guns in embrasure to command the approach by the river from below. One, a rifled thirty-two pounder; others twenty-four pounders.

One twenty-four pounder on field carriage in an angle of the fort, sweeps the land approaches. There are also two twelve-pounders, brass, and three six-pounders playing over the breastwork; rifle-pits on bank below fort, two hundred yards long; five field-pieces artillery in HamiltonGraham's battery; three companies, Pales' battalion, garrison the fort. At Butler's Bridge, two miles from the fort, are intrenchments, with a place for one gun.

Camp of Seventeenth regiment (eleven hundred strong), near the fort, and the camp of the Fifty-sixth regiment about one mile from Hamilton, from fort, and from Butler's Bridge.

At Whitney's Bridge (river road) the bridge is destroyed, road barricaded, and a breastwork one hundred yards above. Five thousand men at Garrysburg; five hundred men at Edwards' Ferry, guarding the iron-clad battery and ironclad in course of construction.

These recent dispositions have resulted from your late raids, and will make it a matter of some difficulty to destroy the “iron-clad” at Edwards' Ferry.

For this enterprise, from eight hundred to one thousand good cavalry will be requisite. My plan would be to land the cavalry six or eight miles above Plymouth, and move by Windsor, on an intermediate road, Roxobel, etc., since this rout has been less used by our troops than the one via Winton.

A demonstration from Norfolk via Winton upon Weldon, at the same time, would materially enhance the chances of success.

I respectfully submit the above information and suggestions for your consideration.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John J. Peck, Major-General.

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H. W. Wessels (1)
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