he did not understand the task he had proposed to himself. With an unfaltering courage she met him, wrested his gun from him, knocked him down, and came into the city with the musket as a trophy, and a dislocated forefinger as an evidence of the contest.
Washington, N. C., Feb. 10, 1864.In one of my letters written last summer, I made the remark that this department “was in a shaky condition.” Strictly speaking, I cannot say that it is otherwise to-day, and it is somewhat surprising that the few troops in possession of the “old North State” department have not been long ago “gobbled up,” and confined in the prisons of Dixie. Here we are to-day, with a strong force of the enemy operating in front of Newbern for the last ten days, and no reenforcements up to yesterday. Already you are aware of the attack made upon Newbern early last week, and the subsequent details of the affair must, ere this, have been read by the people of the North; but allow me to say that, if it had not been for the great valor displayed by a handful of Union troops, the affair would have been a very unpleasant thing. Well and nobly fought the One Hundred and Thirty-second New-York infantry, assisted by their cavalry comrades from the same State, keeping in check for several long hours an overwhelming force that came rushing upon them on all sides, like a storm. Three times did the bold, and I must say, courageous confederates charge to cross a bridge in front of the One Hundred and Thirty-second, and as often were they repulsed by the defenders of the old flag, leaving their ranks somewhat thinned in every fresh attempt. The Twelfth cavalry--or rather eight companies of it — under Colonel Savage, maintained their post for a considerable time, being compelled at last to burn their camp and forage, and retire toward Newbern. Within two miles of the city, and exactly where the regiment was quartered last fall, a brigade of rebels formed a line of battle between them and Fort Totten. The brigade did but little to prevent the cavalry charging at them and through them, finally getting under cover of the guns of the fort. The enemy remained but a short time in this position, for the guns of Fort Totten and the howitzers of the Twelfth sent terror all around them. The bravery, coolness, and courage displayed by Colonel Savage on the occasion, is the subject of much praise among the men. The Seventeenth Massachusetts infantry and the Second North-Carolina volunteers also took part in the skirmishing, and lost a good many men in prisoners; but the Green Mountain boys from Vermont--the Ninth--are on their way the second time to Richmond. This regiment has been in the State but a few weeks, having been just released from Dixie, and were doing duty on the military railway between Newbern and Beaufort. I cannot explain the cause of so much evil to the Vermonters, and therefore will not venture to assert that the material composing said regiment is not of the soundest metal. Two companies of Mix's cavalry doing duty with the Vermont regiment, were also made prisoners of war. A few of the latter have since made their escape. It is rumored that the gunboat captured by the rebels, and subsequently burned, was captured solely on account of the captain's high esteem and regard for secessionism. The name of the boat was the Underwriter, that of her captain, Westerfelt, or something like it. It is no matter, for if all is true about his conduct, his name will be without fame in the annals of the war. He is in prison now, I believe. By the arrival of the Patuxent at this port last night, the information is obtained that the rebels are concentrated about nine miles west of Newbern. Up to the hour when the Patuxent left Newbern, no reenforcements had arrived in the department, notwithstanding that a despatch was sent to Fortress Monroe ten days ago. Where is General Butler? I saw it in the papers a short time since that he was in Washington, D. C., at Willard's, I presume, taking a “brandy smash,” with the political wire-pullers of the White House. The good he has done since he took command of affairs here, is so insignificant, that few see it. He has done one thing, namely, prevented the poor soldier from taking his accustomed government ration of liquor. He cannot have luck for doing so, at least he will not secure the soldiers' suffrage, should some broken-down party be foolish enough to nominate him for next President. But, seriously speaking, it is a shame that no reenforcements are sent to the relief of just enough troops to do the provost duty in the department. This is an important point in the State, and how many troops do you think are stationed here?--about one thousand five hundred. With the towns of Greenville and Tarboro a day's march from us, strongly occupied by rebels, and all along our front the enemy raiding in strong force, it does seem strange that nothing more has been done on the part of our generals in the way of being ready for any emergency. I have been long of the opinion, based on personal observation, that this State might long ago have been redeemed from the misery into which its people have been thrown by the lack of energy on the part of the military authorities. The famine that has long stared the citizens in the face, long since bade them seek for mercy, and that mercy can only be obtained through the victorious advances of our army in the State. Fifteen or twenty thousand men thrown into this department could open the State from the Atlantic to Raleigh, thus strengthening the hopes of the people and cementing their confidence in the stability of the Union. The mass of the people are heartily sick of secessionism, and are hoping against hope for the day of peace. But the question arises: Does the Federal Government wish the day of peace to come too suddenly? I leave this question to be answered. The loss on our side during last week's operations