War of the Rebellion: Serial 049 Page 0673 Chapter XLI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.- CONFEDERATE.

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HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA,

Wilmington, August 24, 1863.

Governor ZEBULON B. VANCE,

Raleigh:

SIR: I have written pressing letter to the Secretary of War, urging that the time has arrived to commence assembling troops for the defense of Wilmington. It will not do to wait until we are attacked, and then depend on assembling re- enforcements. We must be prepared. The whole plan of defense of this now vital and most important point, not only to th eConfederacy, but to your State, is predicated on th epresence of an army to support the works and to crush the first effort of the enemy either to advance or to land. The present condition of Charleston shows that we shuld never let the enemy possess himself, with his immense means, of the approaches. I do not despair of Charleston, but whether it falls or not, I say, as one in the position to judge, that it is time to liik out for Wilmington.

I hope that a response will be made, and that from some of the armies of the Republic I may receive some troops. I fear a coup de main. This district is stripped. I cannot take from other parts of the department without laying Raleigh, Fayetteville, Goldsborough, and Weldon open, and the entire communication liable to be desroyed, thus preventing my ever getting troops. Please to urge this matter yourself, not that I expect other than a perfect comprehension and appreciation of the wants of the district, but to add the weight of your influence. In the meandtime, I would suggest, if you have the power, that you would order into the field four or five regiments of militia infantry. If they could be put on foot at once, I staff, into good descipline and drill. Think of this.

If permitted, I will send you a copy of my letter to the Secretary of War. I assure you the matter is urgent.

Very respectfully,

W. H. C. WHITING,

Major- General.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF NORTH CAROLINA,

Wilmington, August 25, 1863.

Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,

Secretary of War, Richmond;

SIR: Should the enemy design attacking this place from the southward, as is likely, whether they succeed or fail at Charleston, there is a feasible line of attack which they might well adopt, now that the extraordinary range of their siege guns is shown, and with disastrous consequences to us here.

It is to land at either Shallotte or Little River, or both, and move directly on the city, plant their batteries, and destroy it. This move on their part, unless promptly defeated, would result in the turning and capture of Smithville, the Saint Philip lines, the isolation of Fort Caswell, and eventually the loss of the harbor.

As in all other cases hertofore demonstrated, this is a line of attack which musth be met by a supporitng army. The works are not sufficient.

With the force now at my command, I do not hesitate to say that

43 R R- VOL XXIX, PT II