War of the Rebellion: Serial 089 Page 1288 Chapter LIV. OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C.

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December 21, 1864.

Lieutenant General R. S. EWELL,

Commanding Department:

Owing to the removal of General Hoke's large division and the substitution of Kershaw's small division in its place, it will not be possible to assist you on the right of Fort Gilmer to the extent intended. General Kershaw will be ordered to put two regiments to the right of the fort, but they will be small ones.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Assistant Adjutant-General.


Wilmington, December 21, 1864.

Captain JAMES,

Chief Engineer, Wilmington:

CAPTAIN: I wish you to take the disabled blockade-running steamer North Heath, and, removing what is valuable on her and readily taken out, tow her to the New Inlet Rip to serve as an obstruction. You will be careful to have an experienced pilot to designate the best place to lay the ship. Great care should be taken to sink her in such a position as to make the channel impracticable, at the same time interfering as little as possible with the flow of the current. She must not be put athwart channel, but with her stern and stem nearly with the flow of the tide. I think she could be placed just beyond the rip so as to be a fixture, and yet thoroughly to block the entrance. You will request the assistance of Lieutenant Chapman, commanding Battery Buchanan. I wish this executed at once. In addition, you will take the river and log obstructions which are ready and have Keith place them to completely block the rip. Examine the old passage near Zeek's Island; that may need some work. Let Captain Kerrigan prepare his self-acting torpedoes, and as soon as the North Heath is placed put fifteen or twenty in the vicinity. Care should be taken not to interfere with the galvanic torpedoes laid down by Lieutenant Jones.

Very respectfully,



[First indorsement.]

Respectfully referred to the general commanding department for approval.

The measure is essential to the defense and has long been contemplated. There can be no security against the passage of fleets without obstructions, and no consideration should be allowed to interfere with the execution of the same. The major-general commanding the district and charged with the defenses of Wilmington would not consider it necessary to refer this measure, but would execute it at once, did it not require the approval of a department commander. The means proposed are the most ready, the most effectual, and then most easily got rid of when required.