War of the Rebellion: Serial 089 Page 1274 Chapter LIV. OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C.

Search Civil War Official Records

and that against the opinion of all of them, and the protest of some, himself among the number, I had sustained Mr. Mallory in the unwise policy. Experience has taught me to expect of General Vance unjust construction of my conduct, and I should hardly deem it worthy my while to attempt any correction in the present instance if he alone were concerned. But as his statements seem to have made some impression upon you, and as you intimate that you may possibly deem it your duty, as a member of the Legislature, to Introduce resolutions upon the subject, I am unwilling you should take that course under any erroneous impression of my motives and conduct, or of the facts or the case. By what authority Governor Vance has invoked do this support the name and influence of the gentlemen you mention, I am not informed. That his representation is not correct in respect to the Secretary of State and the Attorney-General I know, and I have reason to believe that it is equally incorrect as regards General Beauregard and General Lee. The question as to the expediency of the sending out our cruisers from Wilmington is simply a question whether or not we shall cease from effort to harass and weaken the enemy by the destruction of his commerce. Wilmington is now the only port available to us, and a grater service could hardly be rendered to the enemy than to seal it up for warlike purposes. The Alabama and Florida alone sufficed to destroy or drive from the ocean three-fourths of the merchant marine of the enemy engaged in foreign commerce, and one of their prominent journalists has publicly confessed that 'already the carrying trade has pretty much passed out of their hands.' These noble ships are lost to us now and they cannot be replaced in Europe, all our exertions to procure war vessels from foreign ports having, for two years passed, been rendered fruitless by the direct interference of the governments.

The Tallahassee and the Chickamauga, not having been constructed as ships of war, could render little, if any service in defending Wilmington, and if these and similar vessels may not be employed as cruisers the ocean will soon be white with the sails of Yankee merchantmen, give ing new impetus to the commerce of the enemy and fresh energy to his resources. And, sir, while the Federal Government is contending before all European courts for a recognition of the principle, as a part of the international law, that all of our cruisers which do not sail from Confederate ports are pirates, it would be indeed a singular spectacle for history to present if the Legislature of North Carolina should be striving to close against them the only Confederate port from which it is possible for them to sail. It is a mistake to suppose that the sending out of the cruisers from Wilmington has had any material effect upon the stringency of the blockade. The importance of that port to us is as well known to our enemies as to ourselves, and their efforts to close it have always been in direct proportion to their means. That the force of the blockading squadron has been from time to time increased, is refers be solely to the fact that as the war progressed the increase of their navy and the capture of Confederate ports rendered a grater number of arm ships available to them for that purpose. In fact, one object in sending out the cruisers has been to weaken the efficiency of the blockade by drawing off the fastest vessels of the squadron in pursuit of them, at a time when valuable cargoes were expected to arrive, a result in which the expectation of the Government has not been disappointed. Our records prove that since the last cruise of the Tallahassee and the Chickamauga a larger number of steamers has succeeded in entering our ports than ever