Wilmington, N. C., March 25, 1863.
Lieutenant General LONGSTREET,
Commanding, Petersburg, Va.:
GENERAL: Your orders to send off Ransom's brigade to report to Major-General Hill have been received and carried out. Let me hope that the removal of these troops is only temporary and that they may hereafter be assigned to me, or at least until all danger of attack here is past, as the stationary brigade of this district. There certainly should always be one brigade here; in my opinion more, but one at least. This one, about 3,000 strong, takes off two-thirds of my available force, and all that is disciplined and efficient. I place but little reliance on Evans' brigade, which certainly is in worse condition than any I have ever seen. It has but about 1,500 men for duty, a very large number of field officers absent or under arrest, and it requires careful attention and strict discipline to bring it to the efficiency which should belong to troops which have been so long in the service as they have.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. C. WHITING,
HEADQUARTERS, March 25, 1863.
Major General D. H. HILL, Commanding:
GENERAL: Your letter of the 24th is received. General Garnett's transportation started from here some ten days ago. If there is telegraphic communication between this and Tarborough I wish you would keep some one there to take any dispatches that we may have to send you. If there is not, name some point nearest you where we may telegraph you. Spare no pains to haul off all meats that you may be able to secure.
I remain, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Fredericksburg, Va., March 27, 1863.
General JAMES LONGSTREET, Commanding, & c.:
GENERAL: I received by the last mail your letter of the 24th instant accompanying the report of Major Moses on the subject of subsistence to be obtained in North Carolina. I do not know whether the supplies in that State are necessary for the subsistence of our armies, but I consider it of the first importance to draw from the invaded districts every pound of provision and forage we can. It will lighten the draught from other sections and give relief to our citizens. As to the force necessary for this purpose I cannot so well decide. As far as I am informed the force of the enemy south of James River and north of the Cape Fear is small. It can be re-enforced speedily from the troops encamped at Newport News, but if you operate discreetly, concealing your movements and only occupying the country from which you are drawing, I think much may be done before your purpose is discovered and time be gained to develop the plans of the enemy, when we can act more understandingly. You have about 40,000 effective men; the enemy can bring out no more. I feel assured that with equal numbers you can go where you choose.