retreat this side the Neuse to make a junction with me. If the bridge is burned and they separated from me, I could not, should Foster turn his whole force upon me, hope to save the place, except by a miracle. However, you will judge of that. I have written to the Secretary.
Wilmington, May 30, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond:
SIR: Though the Department must be aware of the general danger to which this line is now exposed there are some considerations which I beg leave to urge without, I hope, impropriety.
Major-General Hill informs me that he captured a mail from the enemy by which it appears that he has in New Berne thirty-one regiments, an increase of nine over any previous estimates in our obsession. A very moderate count will give between 12,000 and 15,000 men. Against this we have but two small brigades; that is, if General Cooke is under orders, and I understand he is. The danger which I anticipate is the destruction of the railroad at Goldsborough, as was done before. But on the previous occasion I was assisted by General Beauregard to such an extent that Wilmington was comparatively secure. Should this recur I cannot expect anything from General Beauregard, who has probably detached all he can to the West. With the brigades down between here and Petersburg I could not receive troops from above, and Foster would be at liberty to concentrate his whole force upon me by land. He would not need iron-clads, for I would not have force enough to man my works. The whole subject of the maneuvering and of the line of attack has been pointed out and discussed in many previous communications. I am now only pointing out the dangers that now threaten, in the hope that you may be able to provide some re-enforcement.
All the Northern dates during this month contain advices of the stripping of this line to re-enforce General Lee, and urge Foster to make the attempt on Wilmington while in its present condition and before the sickly season sets in. My scouts in the front give me the same information.
In view of the great responsibility of all my precautions-much more stringent, as I am told, than anywhere else in the county-this miserable blockade running by private parties furnishes the enemy with all the information they require.
I respectfully urge the consideration of the above and its reference to the President.
W. H. C. WHITING,
Respectfully referred to the President:
It is feared serious hazard is run, but I see on mode to avoid it. Local organizations, which I will press, are the only resources at command.
J. A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War.