War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0839 Chapter XXX. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

CHARLESTON, S. C., January 11, 1863.

Brigadier General W. H. C. WHITING, Wilmington, N. C.:

Few enemy's blockaders in sight this morning. Have you fortified your advanced position by rifle-pits and abatis?

G. T. BEAUREGARD.

CHARLESTON, S. C., January 11, 1863.

Brigadier General W. H. C. WHITING,

Commanding at Wilmington, N. C.:

MY DEAR GENERAL: Your favor of the 8th instant and accompanying drawings were duly received. I telegraphed you my coincidence in your views relative to the meditated attack of the enemy on Wilmington and its proposed defense by you. We differ, however, in this respect- that should he have any iron-clads to operate with he will first pass and take or silence your forts on the river, and then land his forces immediately before the city to make a land and water attack on its defenses thereby cutting off your retreat across the river to prevent you from re-enforcing Charleston. Should it become necessary, your communications at the same time with Goldsborough would be cut off by a strong movable column, which would destroy all the rail and common road bridges in that direction. He would also make a demonstration against Goldsborough or Weldon to keep Smith's [forces] there inactive, and so operate as to compel him to sacrifice the least important positions in succession for the protection of the most important ones. This is what I meant in my telegram and not that they would attack Wilmington, Raleigh, and Weldon at one and the same time. Wilmington would certainly be a great loss to the Confederacy, but not as much so as Raleigh and Weldon which would give the enemy both lines of communication between the South and Richmond. Moreover, the capital of any State which to us signifies nothing, is an event of great importance in Europe. I will repeat here a French proverb, which is as true in war as in the ordinary walks of life, "Qui trop embrasse mal etreint." You all seem to be very much in the dark about the enemy's movements and forces, exaggerating the latter terribly. This must have a depressing effect upon your troops. I always make mine believe we are stronger and the enemy is weaker by about one-third than is actually the case. After a battle I reverse this. With a proper system of spies all the enemy's important movements ought to be known to you, and by counting his generals you ought generally to know pretty nearly what his forces are; for instance: One brigade (four regiments of 500 effective men), 2,000; one division (four brigades), 8,000; one corps (four divisions), 32,000; cavalry brigade, 2,000; artillery (about three pieces for 1,000 infantry), ninety-six pieces. This would give 1 general commanding, 4 major-generals, and 17 brigadier-generals, or 22 in all; but the Abolitionists have generally colonels commanding brigades for the sake of economy. I have my doubts whether Foster commands at this moment more than the above force, although it may be increased greatly ere long. By using this table you will find that Burnside's army of three corps and a reserve at Fredericksburg amounted to about 125,000 or 130,000 men, with about three hundred pieces of cannon. Now that the iron-clads are played out for the present, I feel less nervous at having sent you my best available troops; but I hope they will be returned in time should they be required for the defense of this department.

Wishing you the amplest success, I remain, sincerely, yours,

G. T. BEAUREGARD.