War of the Rebellion: Serial 088 Page 1253 Chapter LIV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

point that may be assailed, while, under ordinary circumstances, one division will be sufficient to hold the line. I have one regiment now in reserve in rear of Colquitt's salient. The only addition which will perhaps seem desirable will be a reserve in rear of Elliot's salient.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,




Wilmington, N. C., September 16, 1864.

General GILMER:

GENERAL: You can chiefly aid me now in increasing and maintaining a large and constant supply of labor. My laboring force is entirely inadequate for the great demand upon it. I should also like you to push forward to completion as rapidly as possible the galvanic submarine batteries which ought to be down complete now. I have the insulated wire. This matter, however, is, I believe, in the hands of the Navy. At any rate you can urge prompt action. But, especially, I hope you will necessity of the presence of a strong supporting force. This I maintain to be needed at all times to prevent surprise, much more so when it is supposed the enemy mean to attack. The whole system of defense adopted here is predicated entirely on the presence of a movable force or army corps. The enemy have too many lines of attack open to make self-sustaining forts of much avail. The different routes or lines of attack he may probably adopt have all been discussed and represented to the War Department. Those to which you call attention are those which especially demonstrate the absolute need of infantry support. It will not be enough to be sure that Caswell or Fisher or Smith's Island are secure against a sudden dash or the passage of the enemy's fleets. The enemy must not be allowed to make a lodgment. At Piney Point I prefer to establish lines and station a brigade to putting up a fort, which could readily be turned, and for which I have neither the guns nor crew. The presence of a strong force there would make land operations against fort Caswell very hazardous for the enemy. But the force is necessary. At present I have but 600 men on the whole of Oak Island, yet the garrison of Campbell and Caswell should be 800 each, besides the brigade required for support at Piney Point. So on Smith's Island the force should be increased to 2,500, at Fort Fisher to 2,200. The proper disposition, then, of the supporting army would be a brigade at the head of the sound, occupying the strong position from Gatlin's battery across to the Sugar Loaf; a brigade at Smithville or Piney Point, and three brigades, the main body or reserve, on the sound between Wrightsville and Whisky Creek. By waiting until after the enemy has chosen his point of attack and made good his foothold, great disaster may occur; much hard work and more men are certain to be needed.

In these views and the system of defense General Beauregard agrees. The only difficulty in the pressure upon us is everywhere for men. It is for the Department to weigh the relative importance of different positions. One thing I beg leave to urge: Let not this defense be intrusted to reserves at all. One veteran soldier will be worth a half dozen. If it is considered essential to save this place, on all accounts let old regiments come here. The defenders here must go through an ordeal that only old soldiers can stand, and it must be remembered