HEADQUARTERS STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, May 23, 1862.
General R. E. LEE, Richmond, Va.:
MY DEAR SIR: In your letter to me dated the 15th of May instant you were so kind as to say, "I would be glad to hear your suggestions as to the most advisable mode of remedying the evil." I now write, in conformity to your suggestion, freely. There is great disorganization, I fear, in both forts, but particularly Fort Sumter. When in Virginia last summer with a company Calhoun offended Major Wagner and, I believe, General Ripley, and when he returned charges were preferred against him. This generated wide-spread dissensions. Ripley has lately had Calhoun out of the fort, I believe, on a protracted court-martial, and he also made a special assignment of Major Wagner as inspector of ordnance generally outside at the batteries in his district. This has left, I believe, Captain Rhett in command of the fort. He is said to be a favorite of General Ripley. Lately 5 men deserted from the fort and went to the fleet, as I am informed, and I hear that some of the guns have been spiked. Four of the companies belonging to that fort have been assigned to other posts, and this, as you know, has weakened the garrison too much. There are eighty-seven guns there, all mounted, and if surrounded they could fight sixty at one time. To garrison it for fighting night and day in a great engagement would require at least 800 men, as you yourself once observed to me. Ripley has had difficulties with Dunovant, who commands the fine regiment of regulars, and was on Sullivan's Island and at Fort Moultrie. Ripley ordered him to Church Flats, with, I believe, four or five of his companies. No officer ought to be in command of Moultrie and the island unless he is a thorough military man of experience, and that regular regiment ought not to be divided if we expect an attack. I therefore most respectfully suggest that an ordnance officer of high standing be immediately ordered to inspect both forts as to ammunition, men, and guns, and report if they are in thorough trim for immediate action. There are only about 56,000 pounds of powder in Fort Sumter. Let the regular regiment of artillery all be ordered into Forts Sumter and Moultrie [it is 780 strong] and let the regular regiment of infantry be ordered to Sullivan's Island, with two of the companies into Moultrie to support the artillery companies. Let two native-born artillery companies from Charleston be immediately ordered into Fort Sumter as a guard upon the enlisted men, who are strangers, and after the Fort Jackson mutiny let us not be placed in the same position at Fort Sumter. Let two of the regular enlisted companies of artillery be ordered from Sumter to Moultrie, and a battalion of native infantry be stationed there as a guard against mutiny amongst the regulars. If Charleston is to be attacked at all thus late in the season it will only be by iron-clad boats through the regular approaches, and the management of these forts is all-important. Defective or inexperienced officers will inevitably lose us everything. I know of no heavy ordnance officer as experienced as General Huger, and he would be the very man for the place if it were not that he, unfortunately, would not act with us at first, and this is well known in Charleston, and there is great ill-feeling toward him there even amongst his relations. We are making large chains, and I sent some immense chains down from this place to stretch across the channel. Fort Timber is being erected at the mouth of the channel inside of the forts; its position is good, and heavy batteries are being erected at Fort Johnson, so as to command the interior harbor if the boats should pass. Castle Pinckney is being put in condition also for this purpose. In