FORT FISHER, December 3,*1864-3.10 p. m.
The enemy have planted buoys in the slough through Caroline Shoals, about where the boats were sounding Sunday evening. I did not see them until to-day. I have a large number of 9-inch shot. Are there two more 9-inch guns in town that I could get to put in the place where the two Brooke guns were? Had I not better send all the odd carriages and chassis and parts of same to town? I have two chassis that the Brooke guns were on in perfect condition, but no carriages to fit them. In making other carriages, &c., for
Brooke guns they could be used.
FLAT ROCK, December 4, 1864
His Excellency the PRESIDENT,
SIR: Since I last wrote you concerning the state of anarchy which exists here, wherever there is no military protection, I have been enabled to learn more clearly what is required. The condition of this corner of North Carolina is exceptional. Its loyal population the army. The mountains here afford strongholds to the deserter and outlaws from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. They have already organized two band and have driven away some of the inhabitants, and they seem to proceed only against the low country people and the families of soldiers who are absent in the army. As Yankee officers have been seen among them, I presume they have Been advised to this course so as to discontent the soldiers and induce them to desert. It would seem a task of no great difficulty to capture or destroy these outlaws. The difficulty arises from several causes. The first is that Colonel Palmer, who is in command, has at several times that he has started forces after them been obliged to call them in to proceed with him into Tennessee. On each of these occasions the deserters have taken advantage of his absence to renew their outrages. Another serious difficulty arises from the delay and failure to execute sentences of courts-martial. Some grievous offenders have been tried, and it is believed condemned, but the record of the rial has been lost on its way to the approving officer. In other cases, the parties have been allowed to return to their commands, and soon after the return to their old haunts. The remedy for these evils seems to me to be to make this portion of North Carolina, from the eastern foot of the Blue Ridge, an independent and separate district, and to place order it a brigadier-general, located at Asheville, with power to order and approve proceedings of courts-martial. The region now under the charge of General Holmes is so extensive and inaccessible that he cannot possibly conduct its business. Letters from Richmond take about ten days to reach here. There are no railroads and the stage roads are daily becoming less passable.
I well know the constant harassing which you encounter from applications for the appointment of brigadier-general, and I venture to enter that field with much diffidence. The opportunities, however, which I have had of judging Colonel Palmer enable me to recommend him to you with confidence. It is entirely to him is due the saving of any part of Vaughn's command when they fled before the enemy before the late advance of General Breckinridge. Colonel Palmer is a man of education, enterprise, and great industry. His habits are
* So dated in copy on file in the War department, but December 31 is probably the correct date.