War of the Rebellion: Serial 089 Page 1298 Chapter LIV. OPERATIONS IN SE. VA. AND N. C.

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HEADQUARTERS,

Wilmington, December 23, 1864.

Flag Officer PINCKNEY,

Commanding C. S. Naval Forces, North Carolina, Present:

FLAG OFFICER: The general commanding having declined to seize any British vessel for obstructing the Rip, can we have the Chickamauga for that purpose, or the Arctic? I am not satisfied at all that the Arctic will answer as an obstruction, but she should be used if nothing else prevents. If so, will you have her sent down to-day and properly anchored by Lieutenant Chapman. I greatly regret that I cannot have any of the blockade-running steamers in a matter of such vital importance.

Very respectfully,

W. H. C. WHITING,

Major-General.

HEADQUARTERS,

Wilmington, December 23, 1864.

Brigadier-General HEBERT,

Commanding, &c., Smithville:

MY DEAR GENERAL: Putting all the information I have together, I am satisfied Fort Fisher is the point threatened, and in its present condition I am exceedingly uneasy about it. I think those heavy ships outside all have troops on board with Butler. It may be that the drilling in boats in great numbers observed by our spy at Norfolk was preparatory for rowing in over the bar at night, a la Cushing, landing on Fisher beach and carrying the position, and with that little garrison on so extended a line it could be accomplished with hardly any loss, and then light-draught vessels could follow in without the chance of a shot. Oh, for those calcium lights! This plan, if the enemy have hit upon it-and I have many indications tending to show that they have some such idea-is far more dangerous to us than the other of landing above Fisher, bad as that would be for us, for in the former case, which on any smooth night presents no difficulty, the fort itself would be at once ready for their use against ourselves. We always relied, you know, on having a strong force at Fisher and strong supports to prevent any such coup de main, the chances of which we have frequently discussed since Cushing's exploits, but we have almost nothing where there should be a garrison of 2,500 men, with a brigade outside in support. You know what we have. Hoke's troops cannot be completely here for several days and none have arrived yet. Heavy weather may save us, but every night fills me with anxiety. We must do our level best to strengthen that position. You must roe and send ten companies of artillerists over there. I will add a part of Connally's force. If we can hold until Hoke arrives all may be well.

Yours, truly,

W. H. C. WHITING,

Major-General.

WILMINGTON, December 23, 1864.

General HEBERT,

Smithville:

Send Reilly's men over to Fisher to-day. They may go in Cape Fear and be landed at Confederate Point in schooners and in the navy launch.