operations. A copy of this letter has been furnished Lieutenant-General Ewell, commanding the Department of Richmond, in whose department you will be operating.
I have the honor to be, respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. TAYLOR,
RALEIGH, September 28, 1864.
Major General W. H. C. WHITING,
Wilmington, N. C.:
GENERAL: I judge from the tenor of your private letter received yesterday that you infer that I did you injustice in expressing a want of confidence in your command of Wilmington, &c. I desire to say for myself fully and frankly all that I have felt or expressed on that subject. You are universally (so far as I have learned) regarded as an officer of a high order of talent in your profession. In the fall of 1862 I solicited the President to send you to Wilmington, and my own judgment (freely admitted to be worth little) of the works erected for the defense of the place but concurs with that of better judges that they are well and judiciously built. Only one thing has ever occurred to impair the universal confidence which you inspired by your diligence in fortifying the town, and that was a very general impression that you drank too much; that your nervous system had been injured by it. I was also informed by and officer high in command and your friend, that at Petersburg you were suffering from depression, caused by abstinence from drink. But not until Colonel McRae and others here, who could have no personal or political prejudice against you, had made this feeling public, did I deem it my duty to say a word. Then I wrote to General Lee, reciting these things, and asking, not for your removal, but that in case of actual attack on the city General Beauregard might be sent down to help you. This is all that I have said, done, or felt in the matter. I don't think I have done you any injustice, and I know I have no unfriendly feeling, though, to confess the truth, general, you have tried me sorely on more than one occasion. Citizens have been shot down wantonly in the streets by your patrols; my trains have been frequently seized; my boats seized, and salt-works stopped; the pilot of the Advance seized and taken off, and a drunken wretch sent in his place, contributing in no small degree to the loss of the vessel; besides numerous instances of an entire usurpation of the civil authority in the town of Wilmington and surrounding country. You have no idea of the complaints made to me on this head alone, with which I have declined to interfere. I believed you to be the man for the defense of Wilmington, and have endeavored earnestly to get along harmoniously with that great end view. I have even swallowed in silence some very rough and discourteous remarks of a personal character, more than once reported as having fallen from you, conscious of my own infirmity in this respect in moments of irritation. But I can assure you in all truth and sincerity that none of these things moved me to express a want of confidence in you, but the cause first mentioned, and I am happy to say that I learn that the objection referred to has been in a great measure removed. God knows I have no other, so far as your capacity to command the defenses of Wilmington in concerned.
Very respectfully, yours,
Z. B. VANCE.