coast has been very much increased, and the dangers of running the blockade rendered much grater. The question arises whether it is of more importance to us to obtain supplies through that port or to prey upon the enemy's commerce gby privateers sent from thence. Your knowledge of what has been obtained from abroad by the Quartermaster's, Commissary, and Ordnance Departments will enable you to judge in the matter. It is stated by those acquainted with the garbors on the coasst that by a proper arrangement of lights the privateers could go in and out of Charleston Harbor with not much more risk than at Wilmington. It might be well, therefore, if practicable, to divert the enemy's attention from Wilmington Garbor, and keep it open as long as possible as a port of entry. While it is open the energies of the agents of the Quartermaster's, Commissary, and Ordnance Departments should be exerted to their full extent to get in two or three years' supplies, so as to remove all appregension on this score.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
PETERSBURG, VA., September 22, 1864.
General J. A. EARLY:
Anderson will move Kershaw to Gordonsville or Charlottesville as occasion requires. Tell Wickham to keep him advised. If necessary he could move to Swift Run Gap.
R. E. LEE,
WAR DEPARTMENT, C. S. A.,
Richmond, Va., September 23, 1864.
General R. E. LEE,
Commanding Army of Northern Virginia:
GENERAL: I have to thank you for the suggestions of your letter of the 22nd instant, which I have just received. The subject has beenone of consideration with me, and I have shared the anxiety you express relative to the safety of vessels evading the blockade at Wilmington. The increased numver of blockaders off that port is doubtless due to the knowledge that other vessels are being prepared for a foray on the enemy's commerce, and with the expectation that they will soon attempt to run out. From the best information I can get, however, I do not think the danger of going out is materially enganced by the number of vessels lying off. Such is the character of the coast that the blockading vessels are obliged to lie at such distance from the land that rapid steamers, under cover of darkness, find no difficulty in making their way to sea. Of the large number of vessels that have, since my attention was attracted to the subject, sailed from that port, not more than two have been captured in going out, and in one of these instances by neglect. There is, however, no doubt that the use of this port as a means of offense against the enemy's coasting trade must engance very much the desire to take and close it, and consequently increase the danger of attack on that point. Its importance to the Confederacy can gardly be overestimated, and I am very reluctant to have the motives to assail it inccreased. At the same time it is not to be doubted the destruction of the coasting trade would be one of the most impressive measures of offense wo could adopt against the enemy, and would reach
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