Wilmington, N. C., September 27, 1864.
Honorable S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy, Richmond:
SIR: In the present condition of this post, our last remaining seaport, I respectfully request that you will direct Captain Wilkinson's command, for the present at least, to report for the defense of the place to the flag-officer. I have less force to secure Wilmington now than at any time during the war, and every available man and gun is needed more than ever. The two iron-clads, the Raleigh and North Carolina, on which we relied to defend the rips, or inner bars, are both gone. We have here no naval forces afloat, and one is greatly needed. The officers, men, guns, and ships of the expedition would be of the very greatest assistance in every way in event of attack, now regarded as imminent. I have been notified that I must depend on this State for aid. The departure of this force, at this time, will be a serious loss to us. For the present, at least, I beg you will aid me in this. The enemy's fleet is very largely increased. The difficulty of running the blockade has been lately very great. Far more than the average of ships have been lost, and the receipt of our supplies is very precarious. Unless I receive strong accessions of force, and that very soon, I cannot answer for keeping the port even for the return of these ships. With regard to the propriety of their remaining to increase the means of defense here, I am satisfied that Generals Lee and Beauregard, and the chief officers of the navy, agree with me. I beg leave to refer you to the Was Department for a statement of the condition of this place, and the necessity of procuring every available man for its security. You know its vital importance to our credit abroad and to our ability to continue the war. The extreme urgency of the case has induced me to take the liberty of addressing you on this subject, for which I trust you will pardon me. I requested an application from the flag-officer; but, though he concurred with me in the matter, he informed me that he could not properly make it. I hope you will excuse me, therefore, as writing in the interest of the defense for both arms of the service. I am building batteries and quarters for the small naval force here, to be, of course, an exclusive naval command, and the addition of these vessels will be of the greatest help. On the other hand, should they successfully evade the fleet and get out, it may precipitate attack before either our re-enforcements can be gathered or my preparations completed. I beg the War Department a report of our exact condition and resources.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
W. H. C. WHITING,
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., September 28, 1864.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia:
GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge your letter of the 26th instant, inclosing a report of General Pickett, and desiring the co-operation of the Navy to be secured in the operations on the river below the city. I have seen the honorable Secretary of the Navy, and he
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