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[275] thoroughly appreciate General Whiting, and so this gifted and intrepid soldier did not have the scope his eminent and exceptional talents, to say nothing of his services, deserved. This is a hard question to decide, where much, no doubt, could be said on both sides, but it may be due to Mr. Davis' memory, without injustice to the memory of Whiting, to state some facts which I have reason to believe well-founded.

His removal.

Whether Mr. Davis removed General Whiting from the field of active operations for wise or unwise motives or reasons, others must settle who are more competent to judge than myself; but my recollection is that nothing could have been more unfortunate for this wonderfully gifted officer than initially giving him command at Wilmington, N. C. We may charitably suppose that Mr. Davis intended no harm to General Whiting, for Wilmington was one of the important sea-gates of the Confederacy, and the man who defended it had need of just such engineering skill as Beauregard had at Charleston. I have always been under the impression from personal experience at the time when stationed at Wilmington, that General Whiting would have been spared many troubles if it had not happened that blockade running was one of the most demoralizing agencies at that place. He was honest and incorruptible, but like many another dazzling genius, he did not always avoid the danger of the ‘insidious spirit of wine.’ He was placed in a trying position, with very inadequate materials for exploiting his great talents. He was possessed of an active, fearless, resolute spirit, that loved the combat of the field of arms. He was presumably chafing under what he deemed the grievance of banishment from glorious combat. He felt unsphered, and this tormenting sentiment may have forced him into moodiness, and opened the way for what seemed his one temptation. At any rate, he never rested until, through the request of General Beauregard, he was assigned to an important command under that distinguished leader, who was operating in the vicinity of Petersburg against General B. F. Butler, who had been making a diversion in favor of General Grant at Bermuda Hundreds. I was told at the time that General Beauregard exacted from General Whiting a promise that he would not, while with him, use potent liquors. It appears to be a historical fact that Beauregard had Butler in what he called a sack, and Whiting was assigned to watch the neck of it so that the Federal commander, who, as Grant phrased it, was ‘bottied ’

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W. H. C. Whiting (7)
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