HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA,
New Berne, June 4, 1862.
Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War, Washington, D. C.
SIR: I have the honor to report that I have this day dispatched the last batch of our prisoners that have been confined by the rebels in Salisbury, N.C. The total number released you will find to be over 1,400. They are all released on parole.
I am convinced if I had the authority I could effect a regular exchange of the prisoners I hold and by that means bring all these men into the field again. They are very anxious to be in service again with a view to revenge themselves on the rebels for the horrible[treatment at their] hands, and I am satisfied they would make most efficient soldiers.
I am considerably exercised just how in reference to the Union regiment forming at Washington, in this State. It seems to have attracted a great portion of the venom of the rebel forces in this section. They <ar116_638> have determined to do all in their power to crush it, and for that purpose a considerable force has concentrated in the vicinity of Washington. I have sent what I conceived to be an adequate force to their relief and hope by my next dispatch to report repulse or a retreat of their assailants. I have purposely avoided a concentration of my own troops at Washington with a view to inducing the people there to take up arms for their own defense and I hope very soon to be able to report the formation of a full regiment in that region. They have now some 300 enrolled in Washington and Bay River. I may have made a mistake in leaving them with so little protection, and should a slight disaster occur I hope the Department will look upon it as one of the accidents of war rather than a piece of negligence on my part. I feel quite sure the returning force will reach them in time for their relief.
I have nothing of importance to report in reference to this post, Beaufort or Fort Macon. The troops are in very good condition and are ready for a move up the country, but I am sorry to report that none of the transportation required for has yet arrived. My chief quartermaster has gone on to hurry it up and I learn from him that it will very soon be here. I have succeeded in establishing communication by boats with Norfolk and shall leave here to-morrow morning for Roanoke Island with a view of communicating with General Wool.
I inclose herewith a report (*) of my medical director in reference to the surgeon of the Eighth Connecticut.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. E. BURNSIDE,
Major-General, Commanding Department of North Carolina·