increase the number of the blockading squadron to such an extent as to render it almost impossible for vessels running the blockade to escape them. I am fully persuaded that the public interest would be better served by retaining the Tallahassee and Chickamauga for the defense of this place. They would be of vast importance in transporting troops and supplies to the different points which might be attacked, and thus might save Wilmington, which it is so necessary for us to hold. Should your concur in these views, I beg your Excellency will write at once to the Government at Richmond and ask that the vessels in question may be retained here for objects indicated, which I cannot but believe are of paramount importance, and which doubtless a request from Your Excellency will accomplish.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
W. H. C. WHITING,
Wilmington, September 26, 1864.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding, &c., Petersburg:
GENERAL: As I shall probably have nothing better than the State reserves to rely upon, will it not be possible at least to let me have two companies of cavalry and two batteries of artillery? I always had for this command until the spring six companies. Four have been taken away, as also two of may best batteries; in fact, the only two which had been under fire, and sent to Petersburg. If North Carolina furnishes me men it will be as much as we can expect. With such a large coast line a small force of cavalry will be indispensable, and I hope I can get it. The artillery is needed also. One of my batteries here consists of 6-pounders only I telegraphed you yesterday, asking your influence to stop that expedition from leaving this port on a privateering trip. I can hardly express myself too strongly against this measure. I am satisfied that the officers of the navy concur with me. At the very moment when the Raleigh iron-clad has been destroyed and the North Carolina, the only remaining one, is sunk and useless, when the place is threatened, the enemy's fleet doubled, and expedition is sent off, taking valuable officers, men, guns, and ships, all needed for the defenses. The navy ought to help us here, and I am sure they are anxious to do it. I hope these vessels will be assigned to aid. Their services in guarding the river and remaining batteries will be priceless to me in my present condition. I think Flag-Officer Pinckney agrees with me, and if it will be proper on his part I am in hopes he will apply for views I have expressed, and it is the sentiment of the whole community without exception.
With regard to your question about probable changes in the force at New Berne, I have heard of small movements of troops there, probably the exchange you speak of. It is reported to-day that the yellow fever is prevailing there, and that there is talk of removing the garrison, probably to the sea-coast. I shall no doubt hear definitely to-morrow. I have one more point: Will you direct a supply of arms to be sent here with ammunition for such force as I may be able to gather? Many that will come from the State will be unarmed.
W. H. C. WHITING,