and I had to send General Wright down there yesterday with another regiment, and DuPont has sent three of his gunboats, in addition to two vessels he had there. Tatnall is busy reconnoitering with his fleet, and Pulaski has been filled with men during the past few days. They may probably make a desperate effort to retake if before our guns are up, but every care will be taken that do not.
I have opened the passage around Port Royal Island, with the enemy attempted to close, but their batteries fired into our boats and his her and hit her once, doing no damage.
As it will be some time before proper preparations can be made for Savannah, I am inclined towards seizing upon the south end of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad as soon as I can get the cavalry. To do this I must be sure of success, for it is quite a vital point in our success on Savannah. I think it can be done at a dash, properly executed, but then the security of our communications will have to be looked to against forays Coosawhatchie, a point on the railroad strongly fortified. I have tried to get this railroad destroyed, but thus far without success, through our party has not returned.
As to the point of Charleston, of which you desire me to speed, I will have the pleasure of writing you in a day or two. If we are to operate inward, I think another light battery here very necessary, as well as a regiment of cavalry and infantry, as stated in my official communication.
Very truly and respectfully,
T. W. SHERMAN.
FORT WALLES, HILTON HEAD, S. C.,
December 20, 1861.
GENERAL M. C. MEIGS:
MY DEAR GENERAL: I have received your letter informing me that al my requisition on Colonel Tompkins were to be filled, I shell use every endeavor to carry out your views regard to economy.
I have thus far and shall continue to erect buildings of most temporary character, consistent with utility.
Immediately upon the reception of your first, I took steps to collect the cotton, and steamship Atlantic, consigned to Colonel Tompkins.
By the Vanderbilt, which has just arrived, cane the agent of the Treasury Department, and I have turned the whole business over to him. He finds the parties all organized, in successful operations, to that he will have little to do but take the credit of collecting a couple millions dollars' worth of cotton.
I very much wish, general, that you would visit Port Royal. It is but seventy hours' sail from New York City, and your stay here old be governed entirely but the time at your disposal. I think you would be able to get a better idea of its wants and of our successes already achieved or in prospect then any I could give by letter. The steamship Atlantic will leave New York in a few days after this reaches you for this pace. I am very sure that your visit would pleasant to yourself and advantageous to the service. I have endeavored to carry out your suggestions with regard to burning the bridges, with what success the future may disclose. Some of my contrabans inform me that they have been expecting that Charleston would be burned, and they think the negroes did it.
General Sherman has strengthened the occupation of Tybee Island