enemy to appeise you of his movements and positions, so that you may regulate yurs. All the iron, cloth, leather, subsistence, &c,m shuld be collected in th evalley and in Northwest Virginia that is possible, and I hope you will give unremitting attention to this subject and all the aid you can afford. It is very important, too, that you should collect, and send back to the army all stragglers and deserters, and summary means must be resorted to for this purpose, if necessary. You will, therefore, try to ascertain their lurking places, send parties for their capture, and disperse them. There is much desertion, I regret to say, from this army, pricipally from the North Carolina troops, but it also occurs among others, and, I am pained to add, among th eVirginians. The punishment you recommend has been resorted to, but I begin to fear nothing but the death penalty, uniformly, inexorably administered will stop it.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORTH CARLOINA,
Wilmington, N. C., August 17, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond:
SIR: The time has come in which I am obliged to have for the public service at this place a steamer in the river. Heretofore I relied upon th eLizzie or Mariner coming back, which boat, you will remember, I strongly urged should be taken. But she has been captured by the enemy. In th emeantime, the business of the Government and the importance of this place has increased in a most extraordinary degree. Independent of th egovernment work on blockading steamers, of the defense of the city, the quartermaster's department, the commissary department, for transportation, I have just received notice that the private blockaders hertofore running to Mobile from Havana are to be consigned here, and tha tthe business of th Government is to be very largely increased by the charter of many steameers. Already I have not the means of proper communication between the city and the forts, from 21 to 26 miles distant, for the military service simply. I have but two small and dedective river steamers. The navy is in a worse plight. I have constant and necessary demands for transportation of guns, ammunition, coal, provisions, and all that belongs to an important entrpot like this, as well as a place largely and extensively fortified. To- day, for instance, I am called upon to lighten the steamer Advance, belonging to the State of North Carolina, aground on th erips. More important still, the steamer Gibraltar (formerly the Sumter), having on board two 700- pounder Blakely guns, besides arms and ammunition, is still outside the bar, but under the guns of Fort Fisher, and so far safe. She requires to be lightened to come in. I have put troops, &c., on board of her. The necessity of additional steam transportation is evident.
There are now twelve steamers in this port. I recommend that we purchase at once. If that is not practicable, impress the steamer Flore, a small double propeller just arrived. The grounded on th erips, but by the assistance of th egarrison of Fort Fisher, and the loss of entire cargo, thrown overboard, has been saved and brought in. She is just what I want, and I understand she is owned in the