War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0829 Chapter XXX. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

gineers, with 7,000 or 8,000 Southrons. I am every much obliged for Gist. He is cool, sensible, and brave. Do not forget to send back that map. I cannot spare it. You might in a short time have the State east of Wilmington and Weldon Railroad traced off. You will perceive some notes on the sketch in pencil. The Brunswick River has been strangely neglected heretofore. Only a few rows of piles have been placed to obstruct it. I have for the purpose neither material nor machinery. Have erected as many batteries as I had guns to spare, and shall put a number of Rains' torpedoes down. What they will do I do not know. The town can be approached, supposing the enemy in possession of the lower river and batteries, by the way of Brunswick River, cutting the railroad bridge of the Manchester Railroad without crossing under fire. This was a great oversight during the past year. You will observe the pencil-marked position of Fort Saint Philip. The position is good and the work pretty well made, but the guns are too light, and what is worse are unbanded-those that are rifled. It forms the left of a line of works put up to command the Smithville and Wilmington road. (See map.) These works force the enemy, unless he could carry them around Green Swamp. But he would never take that side of the river, and I do not attach much importance to them. I have mentioned the importance I attach to have sufficient force to compel the enemy to make his choice between Fort Fisher and the town; that is, the one or the other, not both at once. Or to explain: I ought to have a force the presence of which at Wilmington would compel an attacking enemy to reduce the town by itself first, not having it in his power to sit down before the town and at the same time be able to move on Fort Fisher and thus make an easy entrance for his fleet. You will see on consulting the sketch that the presence of a maneuvering force resting on Wilmington would make a march to Confederate Point or a division of the enemy's forces hazardous. The absence of such a force puts everything in his power. If forced from paucity of men simply to man my lines why, of course, the whole vicinity east of the town is open to him, and he can send at his leisure and take the river batteries.

I would like to have a talk with you. Maps and hurriedly-written letters give so little idea as companies with sight and hearing. The yellow fever has been a terrible obstacle to the works about this place. On my arrival here six weeks ago everything had been at a stand-still for a long time and almost all had to be reorganized. For Caswell, being a fort of the old United States, seems to have been considered finished and perfect (probably out of regard for General Totten), and was not strengthened. I am building iron casemates as fast as I can. A battery which I put up eighteen months ago to command the bar was taken down, I believe, for fear it might be taken and used in the fort.

It is a hard place to defend, this, and a hard position. I hope you will not think me importunate. I have demonstrated over and over again to the War Department the importance of the place to the whole country, the war, to Richmond, and to Charleston; shown how it affects the blockade-for it is the easiest place on the coast for the runners and hardest for the enemy-and asked for what I thought necessary. I do not complain. I suppose they could not aid me or they would have done it. Since you and [General] G. W. [Smith] have come to my assistance I feel much better. The gunboats are not near completion. They would be invaluable, if ready. The fever again stopped them or they would now be ready. As they are increase my embarrassments, for I have to provide for sending them up the river in case of disaster and