formation is positive, reliable, and confirmatory of what I had advised you. The ram is to be sent down on the next high water. The engine has been taken fiom “Pugh Mills;” it was once in a factory in this city.February twenty-third, I wrote, viz.:
Your letter of the twentieth has just reached me, and I agree with your views, except in one particular, viz.: ‘I don't believe in the ironclad.’ Hitherto it has been a question of iron and time. A communication from General Wessels, of the same date as yours, settles the matter in my judgment. His spy has just come in from Halifax. He came from Wilmington, and twenty-five thousand pounds of iron was on the same train for this identical gunboat. The General writes that other parties, from near Garrysburg, who have not seen the boat, confirm the reports of the shipment of iron. He adds the following: ‘In view of the possibility of such a monster coming down it would be well, I think, to procure the hulks, if practicable, and cause them to be sunk in suitable places.’February twenty-fourth, I wrote, viz.:
Every day and hour brings testimony bearing upon the plan of the Confederate authorities for driving us out of the old North State. It has been substantially communicated by me. The present intention is to attack us as soon as the gunboat can get down. Mr. Hall visited the ram on Monday, this week, and confirms all that has been reported. Her machinery is all in, and she is about ready. Mr. Hall is about fifty-five years of age, of intelligence and extensive acquaintance, and has come back with his family.February twenty-ninth, I wrote, viz.:
He is now removing the blockade and obstructions, some six miles below Kinston, for the purpose of bringing the ram and boat flotilla to this city. The ram in the Roanoke is expected to be in condition to co-operate. The one at Kinston is virtually completed, and on the first flood will come down. They are so confident of success in the Neuse, that General Pickett will not delay for the one at Halifax.March seventh, I wrote, viz.:
Colonel McChesney, on the fifth, states, that all the contrabands agree that there is a large force at Kinston, and also at Greenville, and that the obstructions below Kinston are being removed.March twelfth, I wrote, viz.:
He states that some four hundred men were put to work on the gunboat by Pickett on his return, with instructions to complete her as soon as possible, and before the fourteenth, the anniversary of the fall of Newbern. The boat is virtually done, and two additional guns for her arrived last Tuesday, making four in all. He was at the blockade, and it has been all removed and the channel staked out. He thinks they have great faith in the ram, and fully intend an attack when there is a freshet. I had hoped a sufficient force might be sent here to enable me to take the offensive and give the State a chance to break away from the rotten Confederacy, when the people would rally round the army of deliverance and the Union. This hope is long deferred, I fear.March eighteenth, I wrote, viz.:
A few weeks since I advised you of the return of a man sent out by General Wessels to procure information concerning the ‘ram’ at Halifax. He was on a train that carried some twenty-five thousand pounds of iron from Wilmington to Halifax. Yesterday several refugees came in from Wilmington.. One of them had been in the Coleraine Foundry, at Wilmington, since the commencement of the war. He is from Indiana. He says several shipments of iron have been made to Halifax and Kinston for the gunboats, and confirms the report made to General Wessels. Some of the iron has been made near Atlanta, where the Confederates have extensive works.March twenty-ninth, I wrote, viz.:
My spy came in from Kinston last evening, having been out seven days. He says the two “iron-clads” are to act in conjunction, and when the enemy is ready he will be attacked. The water has risen in the river, and the “ iron-clad” is afloat at Kinston.April fourteenth I wrote, viz.:
General Harland reports no change in his front on the twelfth inst.; his letter has the following, which I extract:General Butler and Admiral Lee examined a courier of General Pickett's, and he was sent to me March eighth. He stated:John Wolfenden, who lives about two miles from Fort “Jack,” says that he was up towards Greenville last Sunday and saw Captain Myers of Whitford's regiment; he says that Myers told him, that the ram at Kinston was completed, and that the only delay was in the construction of the small boats, to take her over the shoals. He thought everything would be ready in less than a week.I think his account of his conversation with Myers can be relied on.
Impression when he left was that Newbern would be attacked when the “ram” was done. General Hoke said it was a pity they had not waited for the “ram,” as Newbern might have been taken without trouble. General Hoke placed three hundred men at work on the “iron-clad.”On the ninth of March he wrote, viz:
I have laid your previous despatches before General Halleck, and he tells me that he knows of no troops that can be spared for our Department; so we must work along as we are.Major-General Butler wrote, February twentieth, in response to this and much more information, viz: “I don't believe in the ‘ iron-clad.’ ” On the ninth of March, he wrote as follows:
With the force you have, we shall expect you to hold North Carolina against all comers.