Return to Department of the South
General John E. Woole to Simon Cameron, Secretary of
Worst Managed Expedition
War of Rebellion Records
Fort Monroe, October 28, 1861.
Secretary of War:

SIR: By special messenger I would inform you that the expedition under the command of Brigadier-
General Sherman is still in Hampton Roads. Brigadier-General Sherman has been here since
Tuesday last. On his arrival, in order to hasten his departure, I gave him a large amount of supplies,
among others 350,000 rounds of cartridges. It appears that his ammunition was stored at the bottom
of his ships, and could not be got at short of four days. To prevent this delay I granted him the
ammunition, which leaves me less than 100 rounds to each man of my command, which I earnestly
request that you will have increased to the number delivered to Brigadier-General Sherman with as
little delay as practicable. When I gave the ammunition I was under the impression that the expedition
would leave immediately. It is now nearly seven days since the general received the ammunition, and
the fleet is still in port, and when it will sail is more than I can tell. I am now furnishing ten days’
rations for the soldiers, and for the same reasons assigned for the ammunition furnished, that their
rations are stowed where they cannot be got at without several days’ delay I will venture to assert
that a worse-managed expedition could not well be contrived. Every opportunity has been given the
rebels to be prepared to meet them at any point on the coast. Among other opportunities a deserter
from the fleet, a petty officer (the party referred to I find upon inquiry to be Mr. Hale, a young officer
connected with the Navy, and, I believe, a relative of Secretary Welles, a native of Virginia), carried
with him the signal book, and, as he said, a knowledge of the destination of the expedition.

My object, however, in making this communication is to hasten a supply of ammunition for small-arms.
In supplying Brigadier-General Sherman’s command, I have not now 100 rounds for each man
remaining in store. I would again call your attention to the garrison of Fort Monroe. I am deficient in
artillerists, both in officers and men. I could not man more than ten guns. I made a special report on
this subject to Lieutenant General Scott, 26th instant.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Simon Cameron, Secretary of War