UNITED STATES STEAMER CAMBRIDGE,
Beaufort, N. C., December 8, 1862.
Major General J. G. FOSTER,
Commanding U. S. Army Forces, Dept. of North Carolina:
GENERAL: I glean the following information from the masters of the lately seized schooners Brilliant and J. C. Roker, to wit; There is at Nassau intending to run the blockade a small screw steamer, the Lizzie, belonging to Wilmington. Said steamer would be ready about the last of November or soon after.
Fort Fisher, at New Inlet, is considered the stronger fort compared with Caswell. There are forty guns mounted, including one 8-inch Columbiad (rifled) and two Whitworth guns. The fort is built of cabbage-wood, filled in with sand 14 feet thick. At Brunswick, up Cape Fear River, there is a strong work, and some 5 miles below Wilmington there is a stronger fortification in process of building. The channels are all obstructed, with only a narrow passage, which is reported easily stopped when necessity requires, being defended by batteries on either side.
The iron-clads are to be perfected whenever iron is landed, intended mainly for river defense.
In my opinion the present moment is the best time to attack Wilmington and the adjacent forts. The longer the enterprise is delayed the more difficult it will prover to be, as a large number of men are kept at work strengthening the fortifications. I believe the troops should be landed in the vicinity of Fort Caswell, although Masonborough Inlet should be examined in this connection, but a military reconnaissance will determine the relative advantages of the two places.
At the last accounts there were about 4,000 troop sin the vicinity of Wilmington. The yellow fever has entirely disappeared.
Salt is selling at $150 (Confederate money) per sack, or about $60 per bushel, and everything else in proportion, which is a proof that the blockade has been effectual. Gold is exchanged at the rate of $2.25 Confederate scrip for $1 in gold.
Let me repeat that the golden moment for action has arrived.
About 700 persons died from yellow fever in October and November out of a population of about 2,500.
The impression is that if Fort Caswell is taken Fort Fisher will be abandoned.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. A. PARKER,
[DECEMBER 9, 1862.? Numbers 76.
Being about to move once more the general commanding must again call attention to the conduct of the troops in pillaging, straying from the ranks, &c., and further orders that no one love the ranks; that all foraging, unless by special order [from] division headquarters, and pillaging is strictly prohibited; and brigade, regimental, and company commanders will see that the orders are carried out, and that no scenes of discharge like those of Hamilton be permitted.
Major Frankle is provost-marshal for the march.
By command of Major-General Foster: