War of the Rebellion: Serial 088 Page 1254 OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C. Chapter LIV.

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that the garrisons here have never been in action. The re-enforcements or supporting corps ought surely to be soldiers. I beg you will urge these considerations. I have written so much and called attention so frequently to the defense of this place, its wants and difficulties, that I fear my views are not considered, or regarded as those of an alarmist. Considerations from an independent source may meet with more attention. However that may be, they are correct, and time will show it. With regard to the two lines of attack you present, the line by Lockwood's Folly and Oak Island makes an increased force here indispensable, and it should be ready to operate before the landing is effected. Manifestly, the garrisons of Caswell and Campbell, even if they were sufficiently strong, could not be taken away to operate against their advance. On Smith's Island the lines are very strong, but the force is entirely inadequate to so extensive a position. I regard it as the key of the harbor. It shall be re-enforced at once. For the sound, the northerly attack, the disposition above indicated of troops near Masonborough is the only one I know of to be effective. The points of landing are so numerous that we cannot provide the whole coast with artillery defenses. We can only hold men and light batteries; that is strong lines on the Sound and Holly Shelter roads, to which I could throw my forces. But the defenses of the city are useless, except as against a raid or sudden cavalry attack. When the city is approached by a force which could compel my troops to fall back upon it the harbor is gone beyond peradventure, for any such movement gives the enemy the peninsula between this and Fort Fisher, and, of course, possession of the river.

Very respectfully,

W. H. C. WHITING,

Major-General.

HEADQUARTERS,

Wilmington, September 16, 1864.

Brigadier General L. HEBERT, Commanding, &c., Smithville:

MY DEAR GENERAL: I send you a letter* of General Gilmer on which I would like to have your views. I have answered it myself, but I should like to forward something from you; you know my opinions pretty well and the absolute necessity of a sympathizing friend when it should be posted. All the suggestions about obstacles, self-sustaining works, &c., will effect nothing, even if carried out without troops. We have no troops to man any more works, not enough for those we have built. Infantry lines, light batteries, and a brigade are better at Piney Point than any fort. With the strong lines on Smith's Island the same may be said. My position of a brigade between the Sugar Loaf and Gatlin for the support of Fisher and those between Wrightsville and Whisky Creek is better than any other obstacle. When the enemy advance with a force onto the city, and compels me to fall back into the town, the harbor is lost beyond peradventure. But take Gilmer's letter, analyze it your own way, bring forward your own views, and let me send them on. General Beauregard agrees with me. The more we can bring to bear the better our chance for improvements.

Very respectfully,

W. H. C. WHITING,

Major-General.

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*Not found.

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