Richmond, Va., Sept. 4th, 1861.
To the Editors of the Dispatch:
The Military Board of North Carolina
is not responsible for the Hatteras
disaster, as can be easily demonstrated.
Under its direction the forts at Oregon
, Ocracoke and Hatteras
were built, provided with all the ordnance, &c., at the command of the State
, and then handed over to the Confederate
Fort Hatteras was not under the control of the Military Board at the time of the attack, the formal transfer of the work having been completed on the 20th of August, and hence it was not the duty of the Governor
of North Carolina
and his advisors to make requisitions for ordnance, &c., as you seem to imply.
You will thus perceive that, if there be any culpability in this regard, it cannot by any possibility rest upon the Military Board of North Carolina
So far from deserving censure this Board has merited the gratitude of the public — Whatever of service the State
has rendered to the Southern
cause within the last few months, has really been effected through its instrumentality.
Under the sagacious and efficient policy inaugurated by it, the forts have been built at great expense and infinite trouble, upon the most barren of beaches, at a long distance from the main land, and in localities to which it was necessary to transport everything save the sand used in the construction.
A regiment has likewise been raised for the coast defence in the Eastern
section of the State
, composed of the very flower of Carolina
's chivalry, and every effort made to perfect it in the heavy artillery drill, so as to prepare for emergencies.
Nor is this all. Forts Macon
have been repaired, strengthened, reinforced and rendered impregnable — a work of herculean labor, as all must admit who are acquainted with the facts of the case.
In addition to these things, let me point you to the splendid regiments which this Board has raised, equipped, and sent to Virginia
, to fight the battles of the Confederacy
In a word, sirs, much of the praise which, by universal consent, is lavished upon North Carolina
, because of the efficient aid she has given to her sister States in their hour of peril, belongs as a matter of necessity to this Board, since it has been the agency through which the good work has been planned, developed and executed.
To the Honorable Warren Winslow
, the able and patriotic Secretary
of this Board, the State
, and indeed the whole country, is under special obligations; and when the history of these stirring times are written by some impartial historian, it will be found that no Southern man has a prouder, purer, or more honorable record.
Fort Hatteras is a small but well constructed work, built during the spring
months, upon that narrow strip of sand beach which separates the various sounds of North-Carolina
from the Atlantic Ocean
It commands Hatteras Inlet — an inlet which was opened in the great storm of 1846, almost 40 miles south of Roanoke Island
, six miles below the cape of that name, and 15 miles north of Ocracoke, and is distant from the main land (Hyde county
) about 20 miles. When visited about a month since, by the writer of this, there were only eight thirty-two's mounted, though preparations were then being made to place some guns of a larger range and larger calibre in position.
It was then commanded by Major Andrews
, of Goldsborough, N. C.
, and garrisoned by two companies from the county of Martin
and one from the county of Pasquotank
, making in all about three hundred men. Among the officers stationed there, were Captains Clemmons
; Lieuts. Citizen
(son of Judge Biggs
,) and Brothers; Col. Thompson
, of the Engineers
, (the constructor of the fort.) and Dr. Brown
, late of the United States Navy,--all of whom, with the exception of Lieut. Citizen
, have been taken prisoners.
At that time Col. Martin
was stationed at Fort Oregon
, about forty miles distant, and I sincerely hope that he was not present at the time of the attack, as the State
can ill-afford to lose the services of so admirable an officer.
is a smaller work, of much more recent construction, erected as a sort of outpost to Fort Hatteras, and commanding the approach to the inlet from the sea. It is distant about three-fourths of a mile from Fort Hatteras, on the same inlet with that fort, and mounted, at the period of my visit, only four guns--32-pounders.
About fifteen miles to the southward is Fort Ocracoke, a much stronger and more important work, and which, in my opinion, will offer a more effectual resistance to the enemy.
It is sincerely to be hoped that the officers stationed there, among whom are Lieut. Col. Johnston
and Major Gilliam
, of Martin
's Regiment, did not participate in the engagement, and have been saved the hard fate of their friends.
It is impossible for the enemy to obtain water or provisions at Hatteras
, or in its vicinity, and they will consequently be compelled to bring them from a distance — a work of much trouble and expense, as our authorities have found for the last three months.
The location is a healthy one, but it is rendered almost uninhabitable by reason of the immense number of mosquitoes which infest it, at this season especially.
It is almost impossible to eat, sleep, or do anything else
without first securing the services of a friend or servant to keep the blood-thirsty insects at bay. The face and hands of every man I saw there looked as if the small-pox was just breaking out upon them; and, notwithstanding the use of all the remedies my medical friend could suggest, it was many days after leaving Hatteras
before the penetrating souvenirs of its inhabitants could be forgotten.
The idea of the impossibility of retaking the fort is preposterous, and it is a matter of great importance that it should be done at once; for though the large steamers cannot navigate the Sound
, smaller ones can, and may do mischief. E. W.
P. S.--Since writing the above, I have been grieved to learn that Col. Martin
is certainly among the prisoners.
There were heavy guns in the fort, but not in position, from the want of proper carriages — a fact which should have been made known to the Confederate
authorities by some one of the several officers sent there at various times by them to inspect the works. E. W.