JANUARY 11, 1864.
INDORSEMENT OF MAJOR-GENERAL WHITING'S LETTER.*
Returned to the honorable Secretary of War.
I am unable to judge at this distance of the danger threatening Wilmington. I cannot see that the enemy is collecting any force against it, and when he does he must withdraw it from some other point, whence our forces must also move to meet it. This is the only way I know of resisting an attack upon it. If the defenses of Wilmington require "the constant presence of an army," I do not see where it is to come from. I see no danger in using the garrisons of the forts to resist a landing or approach at other points to gain time for concentration of troops. I think Martin's brigade and two light batteries sufficient to watch the threatened point.
The custom of the enemy when he wishes to attack one point is to threaten a distant one. The troops are rushed to the threatened points and the real point is exposed. I could at this time send some troops from here, but when should I get them back? Then, it would be seen that it was impossible to withdraw them. Three divisions of this army, and they of the best, are now scattered over the country, and I see no prospect of recovering them. The troops want some rest, some time for reorganization and recruiting their ranks. The enemy is making great efforts to reorganize their army in my imme diate front. Lange bounties are given to those who re-enlist; many are re-enlisting by means of their people at home, so as to prevent the draft. Conscripts to their ranks are also daily arriving. According to our scouts on the Potomac over 2,000 have come up to Alexandria since the beginning of this year. I see norting doing on our part, and I fear the spring will open upon us and find us without an army.
R. E. LEE.
ADJT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 5.
Richmond, January 13, 1864.
I. The President having approved the following joint resolution of Congress, directs its announcement in General Orders, expressive of his gratification at the tribute awarded the patriotic officers and soldiers to whom it is addressed.
For the military laggard, or him who, in the pursuits of selfish and inglorious ease, forgets his country's need, no note of approbation is sounded. His infamy is his only security from oblivion. But the heroic devotion of those who, in defense of liberty and honor, have periled all, while it confers, in an approving conscience, the best and highest reward, will also be cherished in perpetual remembrance by a grateful nation. Let this assurance stimulate the armies of the Confederacy everywhere to greater exertion and more resolute endurance, till, under the guidance of Heaven, the blessings of peace and freedom shall finally crown their efforts. Let all press forward in the road to independence, and for the security of the right sealed to us in the blood of the first revolution. Honor and glory await our success. Slavery and shame will attend our defeat!
* Probably on his letter of December 20, p. 881. This indorsement is found in General Lee's indorsement book.