Rockfish Creek (thirty-five miles from Wilmington).--This bridge is 450 feet long, decked over; a part of it extends over low ground, except in time of freshets. There was no guard and no defense there on the 31st ultimo. Raiders would have to reach this bridge by Duplin Cross-Roads from Onslow County, via Chinquapin.
Northeast.--The bridge over the Northeast Branch of the Cape Fear River, nine miles from Wilmington, is a very important one; a covered bridge 400 feet long, over water thirty feet deep. It would be difficult to reconstruct in case of its destruction. It is only eleven miles from the coast by a good road. The guard at the bridge on the 31st ultimo consisted of eight men of Captain Webb's artillery company, North Carolina Troops, with two brass field pieces. Works of defense have been constructed.
Smith's Creek.--The remaining bridge on this road is 240 feet in length, covered in. It is but a mile and a half from Wilmington, and may be regarded as within the line of city defenses.
I have directed earth-works for artillery to be thrown up and armed for the defense of the different bridges named on the line of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad.
There were on the 30th ultimo at Goldsborough 500 reserves being organized into companies under direction of Captain Mallett and 290 reserves (First Battalion) at Weldon. The reserves of New Hanover and adjoining counties were to be organized on the 1st instant. If the reserves should not be sufficient, the guard for home defense, or a portion of them, might be called out in North Carolina, through the Governor. There are included in the State organizations a number of persons who do not belong to the reserve force or the regular service. In this way an infantry force might be obtained sufficiently large to guard effectually this line of railroad without withdrawing troops from other important points.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JUNE 5, 1864--8 p. m.
General Lee writes that he holds the troops ready to go on by the Fredericksburg road, but awaits orders. I did not so understand you. As the whole matter is within the general's command, I did not even make you a suggestion, but simply referred it to him. No reply to my dispatches to Generals Vaughn and Elzey, so that there is nothing further to decide on.
Yours, most respectfully,
Richmond, Va., June 6, 1864.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
SIR: I send the copy of General Lee's dispatch received in the night, which as usual is cheering. The courier gives intelligence of an attack made subsequently in some force on our lines, which was easily repelled but with serious loss to the enemy. I regret to have to communicate, likewise, intelligence of disaster in the Valley, communicated by a telegram, of which I send a copy, from Brigadier-General Vaughn,