KINSTON, August 1, 1863.
General S. COOPER:
A note from New Berne, without date, probably day before yesterday, says Foster returned yesterday from the Chowan River. This morning all the negro troops, 2, 500, were put on transports. They said the were going to South Carolina, but we think they are going to follow Foster to the Chowan.
J. G. MARTIN,
THORNBURY PLANTATION, NEAR HALIFAX AND GARYSBURG,
August 1, 1863.
Commanding Department of North Carolina:
DEAR SIR: Understanding that the defenses of Weldon and this part of the country are under your charge, permit me to call your attention to its now very exposed situation since the enemy have advanced their base line to Murfreesborough, only 35 miles distant.
Half an hour saved Weldon last Tuesday, and the fact that about half the Yankee force stopped at Jackson to plunder. General Ransom arrived at the small earthwork at Boon's Mill on Tuesday afternoon, less that thirty minutes before the enemy attacked. His guns were not unhitched from the horses. He had with him only five regiments, but the other regiments coming up, he was speedily re-enforced. The fight lasted some three hours, when the enemy fell back to help their comrades plunder Jackson.
The position at Boon's Mill is an admirable one, and cannot be flanked except at Faison's Mill, 2 1/2 miles below. Faison's Mill cannot be flanked, as the creek becomes very deep and the swamp very heavy, to the river. The road to Weldon from below is either by Boon's Mill or by Faison's Mill. * The former is defended; the latter is not, and this is one point I wish to call your attention to. This position has all the advantages of that of Boon's Mill, with additional ones; artillery can be placed on an impregnable position that will command the approach for a mile or more. It is equally necessary to defend the advance on Weldon-is an essential part of it; 150 negro men could readily be supplied from the large plantations in Occoneechee Neck to do the work. This force in one week would make the place impregnable, excepting by a very large force and regular advances.
The line of Wheeler's Mill Creek, or the Wytherama, is the innermost line of defense for Weldon, excepting those immediately around the place itself. These last have no local advantages, while those of this stream are very great. Were these advantages properly improved, 800 men would defend it against 4, 000.
I send you a rough sketch of Weldon and the adjacent country, roads, &c. * The defenses of Weldon on this side extend 2 1/2 or 3 miles, and would require at least 5, 000 men; if the defense is made on the line of Wheeler's Mill Swamp, one-fifth that number only would answer.
The enemy's base is now so near Weldon that it will not answer for Ransom's brigade to leave, or to depend on getting troops from
*See plan inclosed, p. 1071.