protect them after they are moved. If they were only ready, one at Fort Fisher and one at [Fort] Caswell, then let them come. One is launched and has her wooden shield on the other on the ways. I have steamers ready to tow them up the river, and have already constructed batteries on the high bluff of the Cape Fear below the point to which the gunboats can go. Can you send over an engineer officer whose judgment could be relied on for throwing up temporary field works and obstructions? I have just received your telegrams relative to strategic matters. I do not think Raleigh enters into the matter for the present, nor do I regard either of them in the light of cities; that is to say, so much property. The enemy having already possession of Tybee and Pulaski, I cannot regard Savannah as of any strategic importance. It is a place, to be sure, and one which we hope to hold; but it is an extremity, not an artery. To me it appears plain that for the winter the main operations of the enemy will take place in North Carolina, whether their object be Richmond or Charleston. The enemy will not divide his attack on all three of the placed you suggest; he will take one or the other. If he goes toward Weldon and Petersburg it is plain that Foster's large concentration is to co-operation with Burnside, and Richmond is the point. If here, it is a separate invasion, though collaterally affecting Richmond and Charleston, and the Carolinas are the object. I have always been of the opinion that Wilmington would be attacked before Charleston, if the enemy have any sense. If it is saved, Charleston will not be troubled; if it falls, Charleston will not be long in following, though locally it might hold out for a time. Look at the map. It is for you to decide whether you will risk your troops, as also the relative value of different points. I have no more time just at this present, but am, truly, yours,
[W. H. C.] WHITING,
GOLDSBOROUGH, N. C., January 7, 1863
[Brigadier General W. H. C. WHITING:]
GENERAL: I returned last night. General Lee advises that we draw troops from the State of North Carolina for her defense, and adds that Wilmington must be defended at all hazards. I have just inquired of you by telegraph, asking what number of Beauregard's troops you have to give them up. I have here Daniel's and Davis' brigades. Pettigrew is at Rocky Mount; French, with a brigade at Weldon. Pryor has four regiments on the Blackwater, and Ransom, with two brigades, arrived in Richmond last night. The enemy are concentrating at New Berne, and there is a force (reported 12,000) in Gates County threatening Weldon or ready to be transported by water to New Berne or other points. I still have hopes that we will receive additional troops from General Lee's army, but if they are not faster they will be too late. If Beauregard can furnish you with troops enough to hold them at bay long enough for us to come to your relief, all will be well. If he cannot I will, if possible, send enough to enable you to hold on until more troops can be brought from above. Write me fully.
Very truly, your friend.
G. W. SMITH,