structed the earthwork known as Fort Fisher. Here the skill, ingenuity, and perseverance of, successively, Major [John J.] Hedrick of the artillery, Major [R. K.] Meade, of the engineers for a short time and especially of Colonel [William] Lamb, now commanding and his men have been signally displayed. The fort is a strong sea-coast work, partly casemated and partly barbette. It would not, however, be tenable for any length of time against a formidable land attack. Fort Caswell, commanding the main entrance, appeared to have had little or nothing done to increase its efficiency; numerous guns of little or no efficiency had been crowded together without any protection by traverse or embrasure for either guns or men. The advanced batteries nearest the bar previously arranged had from some unknown reason been leveled. I regarded it, and still do, as one of the weakest points on the system. In the very important matter of river obstructions little had been done, nor had preparations been made for obstructing the approaches to the city in case of attack. Brunswick River is an important branch, forming the island known as Eagle's Island, directly opposite the city, affording out of fire, an easy access to the Upper Cape Fear River, and opportunity for an enemy in the lower river to destroy the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad Bridge and cut off all communicate south of Wilmington. In this branch the only obstruction was a few rows of piles not protected by any effective fire. In the city itself, as if it was to be abandoned at the first appearance of a hostile gunboat, not a single work had been put up, though many admirable sites presented themselves. On the gunboats he pestilence had stopped labor; both were on the stocks and no provision whatever stopped labor; both were on the stocks and no provision whatever had been made or even projected for saving them in case of disaster or providing for them during attack. During the two months' grace the enemy have given us it is not for me to say what has been done to remedy the defects here stated. I have to give my warmest and night. Colonel Lamb and Lieutenant-Colonel Gwathmey, of the Navy, Major Forrest, of the Navy (until his unfortunate illness), Major Young and Captain Andrews, and Captain James and Lieutenant Obenchain of the Engineers have been indefatigable with their excellent commands in strengthening the defenses. Their value, incomplete as they still are (necessarily from want of time, implements and material), must shortly be tested. If they succeed, these officers and men should have great praise, if they fail, it is not their fault. I have now, in addition to the works, a movable column of a little more than 7,000 men, with five smooth-bore field batteries. Of these, all but Clingman's brigade and two batteries have been furnished me from the defense of Charleston by General Beauregard, under command of General Gist. I have stated too often the importance of this place to the country to repeat it here, but I will repeat what I have said before-that from here there is no route or retreat and once taken by the enemy it cannot be retaken by the means belonging to the Confederacy. Strong diversions and powerful aid should be at once started. While we will do all we can do and will hold and defend the place while it is possible, every endeavor should be used to relieve it. The Charleston garrison ought not to be vainly sacrificed.
The above statement has been made because I think it is due to the officers and men of this army and to myself. The enemy are moving in very heavy force, and there is no time to be lost.
W. H. C. WHITING,
54 R R-VOL XVIII