HEADQUARTERS THIRD MILITARY DISTRICT, DEPT. OF NORTH CAROLINA AND SOUTHERN VIRGINIA,
Wilmington, N. C., November 15, 1864.
His Excellency Z. B. VANCE, Governor of North Carolina:
SIR: As a measure of precaution, recommended by the local commander here, and delayed only until I could be satisfied of its expediency, I have directed the removal of the State salt-works from Masonborough Sound. I am satisfied from concurrent reports that the presence of these operatives in that locality is dangerous to the safety of this place, and that I am, therefore, consulting the true interest of the State in this removal. The men and material are ordered to this place.
I am, Governor, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT,
Raleigh, November 15, 1864.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS:
SIR: I deem it my duty to address you in regard to the situation of Wilmington. I have just returned from a visit to the works below that city and find them all in excellent condition; so far as I am able to judge there seems to be nothing wanting but troops. If attacked in strong force I humbly conceive that its capture is inevitable, unless strengthened by at least two brigades of veteran troops. The militia assembled, and to assemble there, I fancy will be totally inadequate to resist a land attack in the rear of Fort Fisher, which seems to be the point of real danger.
In view of all the facts in case, of which I presume the commanding general keeps you sufficiently informed, I respectfully suggest that General Lee should spare a few veterans as a nucleus for the raw troops defending Wilmington, notwithstanding the great pressure on his lines. Except for the moral effect involved in losing our capital, I cannot see that Richmond itself is of any greater importance to us now than Wilmington. To leave it entirely in the hands of militia, except the garrison, I deem extremely injudicious.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Z. B. VANCE.
Secretary of War, for due attention and communication to General Lee.
NOVEMBER 22, 1864.
Send copy to General Lee with the President's indorsement. The importance of Wilmington is very great, but I am reluctant to contemplate the consequences which would follow from the loss of the capital or to estimate the relative expediency of endangering either. I submit the propriety of sending more forces to Wilmington to the better judgment of the general commanding in the whole department.
J. A. SEDDON.