It is my earnest conviction and opinion that from this moment to the close of the war there should be an army always here. All-important as Vicksburg was to us, the presence of an army was always deemed necessay to its defense. The importance of Vicksburg then is not greater than that of this place now, the last outlet to the Confederacy. I repeat, however, that at no time has this place been so unprotected by supporting forces.
The artillery garrison is not adequate to man the works. The infantry force is nothing. I am endeavoring to occupy Smith's Island. I have neither the troops nor the labor.
I beg that you will lay all my letters before the President; as he has intrusted me with this defense he will consider my opinions for what they are worth.
I am not an alarmist, but I see danger not far off, and my only desire is to provide against it.
W. H. C. WHITING,
P. S.-Unless some great disaster occurs to the enemy, Charleston, as a Confederate port, is closed. The enemy have it in their power to hold their position and transfer in any two nights their operations here. It will not do to trust to work to be done and force to be gathered afterward.
SECRETARY OF WAR:
General Clingman's brigade cannot now be withdrawn from Charleston. Martin's brigade, if full and well instructed, would afford a garrison, or, if it be better suited to an interior position, the brigade of General Ransom would be entirely reliable for protection of approaches to Wilmington. Pickett's brigades when filled up will be able to extend farther on the railroad, and the local-defense men of North Carolina, it is hoped, will soon be in the field.
The importance of Wilmington is evident, and it is desirable to have troops in position to cover the country and its proper defenses.
Wilmington, September 8, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond:
SIR: In connection with my late letters you urging my immediate need of troops, I inclose to-day a letter from Colonel T. M. Jones, commanding at Fort Caswell.
The occupation of Bald Head on our part is a matter of necessity, daily growing greater. It should be held by a large force. My artillery garrison is now far too small to man the batteries and works already constructed, without considering those in process of erection. Of infantry support I have but one regiment, occupied entirely in picket duty over a large extent of country, and unable from its distribution even to meet and repulse the landings of the enemy. This