thing be made secure now. To me the great object here, to which all others are secondary, is to keep this port open, and to be sure of this I wish to neglect nothing. It must be recollected that within the past year to defend this place have been erected the powerful works, Forts Campbell, Pender, Holmes, the lines of Smith's Island, besides numerous batteries, great additions to Forts Casweel and Fisher and the advanced works of the latter. Extensive work, considered indispensable, is still in progress, under great difficulties in the way of labor and material. It is not, I think, necessary for me to demonstrate the effect or importance of the different positions occupied or specially to discuss the necessity of the various works erected or in progress, further than to indicate their general relation to the main object, the preservation of the harbor. For this I send herewith the sketch* of Smith's Island; the Department has none so much in detail. By comparing it with a coast-survey map of the mouth of the Cape Fear the relation of the island to Caswell and Fisher will be sent at once. I may make one remark pertinent to the permanent occupation of the island by a strong garrison, that in all northerly weather, at which time the beach from Fort Holmes to the cape is smooth and so far favorable to the enemy, it is with great difficulty we are able to keep up communication and supplies. Please show the sketch to the President and call his attention to this letter, especially to the matter of increase of the permanent garrison and dispatch of some of the troops now in winter quarters to this place for its present security.
W. H. C. WHITING,
JANUARY 13, 1864.
Respectfully submitted to the President, with a map. Kemper's brigade was ordered to re-enforce General Whiting some days since.
Adjutant and Inspector General.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
January 13, 1864.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President Confederate States, Richmond, Va.:
Mr. PRESIDENT: I have the honor to call your attention to some matters affecting the execution of the conscript law in the case of those who have recently been made liable to it, as well as of others. There is a strong disposition manifested by the men to enlist in commands serving near their homes. This has been the case in several States, but I refer particularly to Western Virginia. I am informed that this disposition is encouraged by the officers, who are naturally desirous to increase their forces. The evils of the system have already been experienced. Men who so enlist conceive that they have a kind of right to serve in certain localities, and are averse to being transferred to others. This was illustrated by the numerous
* To appear in Atlas.