War of the Rebellion: Serial 081 Page 0716 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LII.

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sionally [seen] making off out of sight. The plan of attack here on their part has always been by a landing at masonborough, six miles from the city, and attack by their navy on Fisher. To this may be added a boat entrance in the river by night in force. Our naval force here being entirely useless for defense, i have only to say that as now situated any expedition they may make, unless providentially frustrated, will be successful. There is nothing to prevent their cutting off communication with the forts, even if they do net force the town, and I am satisfied they contemplate it. I am trying to get as many citizens as I am satisfied they contemplate it. I am trying to get as many citizens as I can under arms, but with results not at all encouraging. i have been compelled to leave a large and important part of the railroad imperfectly guarded in order to watch the coast merely by pickets, and the town guard is not sufficient for the daily routine of duty. I hope you will not think me importunate or too careful, but totally unable to secure even labor to complete my designs (four months having been already lost without any work, in spite of repeated endeavors and constant entreaties to procure it, and still without it) and wanting that support which the topography makes absolutely essential, this place can be taken now with ease. And so I give warning. I shall do all I can whatever the result.

I can only add that considering the present condition of our communications and the importance of the place too much is left to chance, especially with our present light, and if you hear of disaster it will occur in the manner I have stated, though, for that matter, without a supporting force, there are half a dozen other modes equally possible and against which I am equally powerless. The case here is not at all that of a place which attacked may hold out until relieved, nor can such be predicated of it. There are too many vital points and it is too open. I think the circumstances warrant the utmost foresight and preparation. Look! The information I received from New York and forwarded, from New Berne and Beaufort to the same effect; preparation of small boats at the North especially flat bottoms, movement of troops from Foster's command; the two expeditions of cushing and his immediate departure for the North, especially the present movements of the fleet. if this was like some places still held by us, the taking of which would not materially influence the war. i would not say a word at this crisis. As its commanding officer I would trust to such poor resources as I might command, the people, chance, a storm, what not, and take he consequences; but this is different and every one knows it; still none but myself is aware of the extreme hazard which it now runs, and of which I think it my duty to warn you.

Please to lay this before the President.

W. H. C. WHITING,

Major-General.

[Inclosure.]

HDQRS. DEFENSES MOUTH CAPE FEAR RIVER,

Smithville, July 3, 1864.

Major General W. H. C. WHITING,

Commanding Third Military District,

Dept. North Carolina and Southern Virginia, Wilmington:

GENERAL: I am as fully, if not more anxious than you are concerning any attack the enemy may at any moment make upon the defenses of Wilmington. I have a full appreciation of the dangers to which my command is exposed and am sadly aware of my weakness. At the same time that I will use all exertions, spare no pains and labor to meet any attack of the enemy and fight him as long as possible, I must be per