heavy rifled guns for the Navy gunboats ought, if possible, to be sent forward, as they might be mounted until required on board. I presume, however, that your Department has nothing to do with them. Secretary Mallory offers the co-operation of the Navy in guns and men. No doubt your recommendation to the foundries on the importance of completing these guns would hasten them. The vital points of the Confederacy now are Richmond, Wilmington, Charleston, Mobile, and Vicksburg. Let us hold these, and whatever else goes we are safe.
W. H. C. WHITING,
Wilmington, N. C., February 3, 1863.
Major General GUSTAVUS W. SMITH,
GENERAL: I need not urge upon you the necessity of our having here as many heavy guns as we can get; the heavier the better. Please to urge it upon the Department. I am happy to learn that a 10-inch columbiad is on the way. One more of the caliber is absolutely needed and I hope may be procured. I prefer the 10-inch smooth-bore to rifle-guns as against iron-clads. We can use the 120-pound bolt in them with effect. In the mean time, taking the offer of the Secretary of the Navy, the heavy guns and ammunition destined for the gunboats building here should be sent forward at once. Pending the completion of the boats they can be placed in battery to do effective service. Colonel Stevens has sent me and engineer experienced in submarine galvanic batteries. if we can arrange the material I am sure there is no better locality for such than this, and to blow up one or two monitors is perhaps the best and cheapest way to procure a few 15-inch guns. I shall send this officer (Lieutenant [Henry] Bolton) to Richmond to get up the machinery. Please to give him your countenance and recommend the matter to the attention of the Secretary of War. Richmond, Wilmington, Charleston, Mobile, and Vicksburg are five vital and most important points to our country and cause. Hold them, no matter what else goes, and the republic is safe. In this view I cannot regard expeditions and attacks upon places of minor importance as other than feints to draw off forces from the defense of those positions, unless, indeed, the enemy is struck with judicial blindness and does not know what we know. I hope that their security will be placed beyond peradventure, first, by the posting of a sufficient permanent garrison or infantry force for any sudden descent of the enemy - this to be always on hand; and, secondly, by the system you have adopted in your command of a movable army, which can act in any part of the department according to circumstances. Here now I have no more than are absolutely necessary; yet this garrison, withdrawn from the next southern department, is liable to be recalled and leave Wilmington open. I beg you will urge what I have so often brought forward - the necessity of the presence here of a movable column of my own, ready to act either upon a land or sea approach or both, until relief should come from your corps d'armee. Many previous letter set forth and explain this necessity be reference to the topographical features of this district.
W. H. C. WHITING,