In the absence of perfectly conclusive and definite information everything tends to confirm the impression that the enemy are preparing to strike determined blows south of the James River. I feel grave apprehensions for the safety of Wilmington. Besides the artillery garrisons of the forts and batteries there are only four regiments of infantry at that point. Evans' brigade is at Kinston, with a superior force of the enemy at New Berne, threatening Goldsborough. At Weldon there are only about two cavalry regiments, under General Robertson, being instructed. The enemy are pressing upon the Blackwater to such an extent that General French has ordered down to that line for regiments of infantry, in addition to the two of cavalry and sent all his available artillery, including the two 30-pounder Parrott guns with Dabney's company, from here. This leaves two regiments in Petersburg besides one regiment local guard in the town. In accordance with your letter the Fifty-ninth Georgia and the battery were withdrawn from the South Anna Railroad Bridges after the 20th instant. I would be glad to have the four Mississippi companies of infantry ordered to rejoin their regiment here, and would suggest that Colonel Ball's cavalry, and the battery attache,d be relieved at Fredericksburg and placed on the line between the mouth of the Pamunkey and your right. There is a great deal of contraband trade and unauthorized communication across that line to the enemy. I hope you will soon be enable to send me the Sixty-first Virginia and the Thirteenth Virginia Cavalry for service on the south side of James River. We are extremely weak in Numbers at all points from Richmond to Wilmington inclusive. To be prepared, detachments should be made from your army as soon as it is at all safe to do so. I have directed some of General Whiting's letters to be forwarded for your information. Please do not forget to send me the Norfolk Light Artillery Blues as soon as you can spare them. Generals Whiting and French are both calling for artillery and both need it. We have about 3,300 of the 4,500 negroes called for working on the obstructions, fortifications, and roads. I have requested a call to be made for 5,000 more negroes. I rode over the country and lines between here and Petersburg on Monday, spent Tuesday around Petersburg with General French and returned last night. The works at Petersburg are necessarily progressing slowly, nearly all the troops being absent. I have directed a force of negroes to be sent there as soon as they are received. Upon your refusal to part with General Early, Major General Sam. Jones, who was to have been assigned to the local command here, as ordered to Northwestern Virginia, and I am still necessarily confined closely to this place. I am very anxious to visit North Carolina, but up to this time have not been able to do so.
Respectfully and truly, yours,
G. W. SMITH,
Wilmington, N. C., November 28, 1862.
CITIZENS OF WILMINGTON:
I request all those citizens of Wilmington who are willing to take arms in defense of their homes (and I well know there are many such) to organize themselves into a body, with such weapons as they may have and with those I can supply, and I suggest that they select a leader and such officers as their numbers will require. I address this request to many gallant gentlemen who, from age and according to law in the exercise