War of the Rebellion: Serial 049 Page 0887 Chapter XLI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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Wilmington, December 21, 1863.

His Excellency President DAVIS,


SIR: Since receiving a note from your aide, Colonel Browne, conveying me confidential information of the enemy's designs, I have been shown a letter from a gentleman in New York to an officer of the staff of General Martin--from his father, in fact--dated near the latter part of November, which tends to confirm your information. He states the intention to attack here; that the new gunboats, sharp at both ends, are (at that date) about completed. They are armed with heavy guns, not ironed, intended to attack here. He states further that Dahlgren and Gillmore are used up.

Your aide tells me the information was sent for my guidance. Without a larger force, I can do nothing but what I am doing. All of my plans depend on a supporting army. Information from Major-General Pickett is received to-day that the enemy are heavily re-enforcing at Washington. He ask me to be ready to re-enforce him. If this be so, it is, doubtless, to cut communication prior to or simultaneous with attack here. I need muych more force tan I have, and it ought to be here now. In my opinion, the permanent force to support should always be three brigades, in order to insure the chance of re-enforcement before the enemy may acquire fatal advantages, as I am entirely too weak, especially when it is considered that the enemy can take his choice of points and position, may come from above or below, or both, and can move faster than I can, to oppose him. The positin is very difficult, and yet it is so important to us that nothing should be left to chance that can be done.

The city is much more vulnerable than Charleston. There, the city does not fall though the harbor is closed. Here, the city is open to attack first. Without troops, it must go and with it the harbor.

Before an attempt is made on our communication, I most earnestly entreat for re-enforcements, or consequences may be serious.

Very respectfully,




Wilmington, December 21, 1863.

General S. COOPER,

Adjutant and Inspector General, Richmond:

GENERAL: The event of an attack on Wilmington is now regarded as imminent. Information to this effect has been received from the Executive Department, and I have further tending to same from New York via Nassau. It is considered in New York that Gillmore and Dahlgren have utterly failed at Charleston, and that the enemy's attack will be transferred here. General Pickett reports that the enemy is being heavily re-enforced at Washington, said to be 8,000. He calls on me for help. I want it too much myself to afford him any aid. If they are placing troops there, it is very probable it is for the purpose of cutting off communication with Richmond on the railroad, either prior to our simultaneous with a demonstration on this place. Either would have the effect of delaying, if not of preventing, aid to me. Such aid will be indispensable to the safety of