Wilmington, August 24, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond;
SIR: I have for some time been greatly concerned on account of the exposed and dengerous situation of this place, and this district, due to want of force. I hope to call your earnest attention to it, and through you that of the President. As the siege of Charleston continues, so the importance of this port grows every day. I do not know now that there is another place, excepting prgaps Richmond, we should not sooner see lost than this. But as to a place so vulnerable, by reason of th every large field in which points of attack may be selected, the entire confidence had in th efortifications, and the reliance evidently had on either the want of enterprise of th eenemy or th esupposition that he has his hands full elsewhere, seem to me like tempting Providence.
I have but one regiment in this district, to constitute a movable force. It is called upon to operate sometimes at Topsail (22 miles from town), sometimes at Fisher (21 miles in the opposite directin), sometimes at points intermediate on th ecoast. In addition, I have but threeor gour of probably the poorest and worst appointed field batteries in the service, batteries formed at a late date with refuse guns, and which have never seen a battle. The duties of the garrison of the city and the forts are unusually heaby and exhausting, while the season is very sickly. This regiment has also to help them. The enormous increase of the government trade, the increasing activity of the enemy in trying to prevent it, gives the garrison of the forts constant employment and almost ceaseless battle. The duty devolving on the city garrison is ovrwhelming in th eguarding and transportation of stores, enforcement of the quarantine, guarding the sense of security which is felt, either in the supiness of th eenemy or the safety and strength of th eplace, sometimes receives a rude shock.
Yesterday the enemy took a fancy t destroy what remained of the wreck of the Hebe, a Crenshaw steamer run ashore some days ago, and rom which a company of th garrison of Fort Fisher were engaged in saving property. The steam frigate Minnesota and fivbe other gunboats appeoached the beach, and, under a terrific fire, attempted to land, but were gallantly repulsed by Captain Mun, with a Whitworth and two small rifle guns of short range. The site was about 9 miles from Fisher, on the narrow and low beach between the Sounds and the ocean, and completelly unde the fire of the enormous batteries of the enemy. Aportiion of the squadron, steaming farther up the beach, effected a landing some 2 miles off in largely superior force, and came down upon Captain Munn, still gallantly fighting his little guns against the Minnesota, they being moved by hand, and, having fired his last round, the Whitworths disbled, 1 gunner kille, lieutenant and 4 men wounded, Captain Munn, with his smallparty, was compelled to fall back, under a heaby enfilade fire, toward Fort Fisher, with the loss of his huns. This took place 9 miles from Fort Fisher and about the same distance from the city. The narrow beach, separated from the mainland by th eSounds, gives every facility to the enemy, and secures them from us who are without boats or means of getting at them. The