them again. You have no idea of the difficulty, the delay, and the obstacles. Since the 16th, when I wrote you so urgently, I have not received seventy-five hands, and that would not make up the deficiency incurred in the meantime by sickness and desertion. The demands are enormous on the very small space I have. The quartermaster and commissariat of General Lee's army depends on my engineer labor, and I can neither help it nor remedy it. Instead of carrying on all the necessary works at once, which ought to be done in ten days by such a force as North Carolina can spare from her 300,000 negroes, I can only slowly carry on one work at a time. All aid grudged and precious time lost. The works you propose have all been well considered and approved long since between General Hebert and myself. They are practicable only with a force very largely increased, both of labor and men, not otherwise, because I must complete the water defenses first, especially since Farragut's success may embolden their navy. You may see what my prospect for aid is, either in troops or labor, by the accompanying correspondence,* which I inclose for you information and that of the War Department. The lines you propose can only be constructed by troops in position. Only after the attack is developed and a foothold gained will anybody be convinced that Wilmington is not safe, and only then will an unarmed and disorganized body of old farmers be sent down here. In the meantime, I am doing all I can. Please have the Conscript Bureau impress the slaves out of my district. Order it by telegraph.
W. H. C. WHITING,
SPECIAL ORDERS, ADJT. AND INSP. GENERAL'S OFFICE,
Numbers 238. Richmond, October 7, 1864.
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XIII. The general commanding the Department of North Carolina, having represented that there is an immediate and urgent necessity for the employment of 2,000 slaves for service with the army at Wilmington, N. C., and it being impracticable to obtain them by contract, these slaves will be collected by impressment. There will be exempt from impressment all slaves under the age of eighteen years and over the age of fifty years. Not more than one slave out of five on any one plantation of the ages specified will be taken, and when there is but one slave of the description mentioned belonging to an owner he will not be taken; nor shall employed in the domestic or family service exclusively be impressed. Efforts will be made to distribute the burden as equally as possible, and the general directions in General Orders, Numbers 138, series 1863, and General Orders, Numbers 32, current series, will be adhered to. The Bureau of Conscription is charged with the prompt execution of this order.
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By command of the Secretary of War:
[OCTOBER 7, 1864.-For Lee to Seddon, reporting engagement on the Darbytown and New Market roads, see Part I, p. 852.]
*Not found as inclosure.