Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 26.djvu/168
158 Southern Historical Society Papers.
take arms in defence of their homes, and I well know there are many such,, to organize themselves into a body, with such weapons as they may have, and with those that I can supply, and I suggest that they select a leader and such officers as their numbers require.
"I address this request to many gallant gentlemen, who, from age, and according to law, in the exercise of many duties, are not otherwise called on to bear arms in this war. I and my staff will be glad to afford them instruction, at such times and places as may be most convenient. They will be called on when the enemy is at our doors. I am confident from my long and intimate association with the men of Wilmington and vicinity, that they are not only willing, but eager to fight the invader, and am sure they will do their utmost to the last.
(Signed) "W. H. C. WHITING,
' ' Brig. - Gen . Com manding.
" JAMES H. HILL,
"Chief of Staff."
The ceaseless labor went on day after day, month after month, heaping up defensive works, driving palisades, sounding the chan- nels (for the treacherous sands of that inlet give new directien to the channel after every storm from the sea), protecting commerce, and the routine of the command, complicated as the great forwarding depot of the South ; but he never ceased to warn Richmond that stationary fortifications alone could not accomplish the impossible task of holding the port; there must be a supporting force of troops to meet at once troops embarked by the enemy, as they would be out of reach of the guns of the fort, whether on Oak Island or near Fort Fisher.
Meanwhile events were rapidly progressing elsewhere, and the sad story of repeated Confederate losses was growing familiar.
The following remarkable letter from General Joseph E. Johnston deserves record here:
' ' DALTON, GA. , March 7, 1864. "MAJOR-GENERAL WHITING:
"My Dear Friend, I cannot express to you the satisfaction given me by the recognition of your once familiar handwriting. How it reminded me of the time when military service and high command gave me as much pride as pleasure; and gave me those feelings because the general officers serving with me were soldiers in