Coosawhatchie, S. C., December 3, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: In a letter received to-day from Colonel John S. Preston, whom I had assigned to the duty of mustering into the service of the Confederate States such troops as might offer themselves for the war from the State of South Carolina or be transferred by the governor, it is stated that the only transfers made up to this time are four companies for twelve-months' service, Even for twelve months the recruiting is very languid; for the war not one company has yet offered, and not one new regiment will be organized in three months. The entire levy will be for terms less than the war, and generally for twelve months, for local defense and special service. I fear that there will be great delay n organizing even such a force as can be armed, unless some measures can be resorted to to procure men.
I have received an application from J. C. B. Mitchell, Montgomery, Ala., to furnish arms to a regiment of that State on my own terms, and have also been informed that Colonel Charles C. Lee, Thirty-seventh Regiment North Carolina Volunteers, has written to Governor Clark to know if his regiment could not be transferred to this State and armed. I consider that the arms at my disposal are for the troops of Georgia and South Carolina.
I yesterday visited Port Royal Sound, with the view of organizing a light force to cut off, if possible, the enemy's marauding parties on the islands. No attempts have yet been made on the main-land, nor could I discover any indication of any movement. The fleet in large force lay extended across the sound from Hilton Head to Bay Point, perfectly quiescent, and no troops were visible except a picket at Hilton Head Ferry.
General Lawton reports that the enemy has evacuate Tybee Island.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
Coosawhatchie, December 4, 1861.
General R. S. RIPLEY,
Commanding, &c., Charleston, S. C.:
GENERAL: Will you please inform me whether the Marion Artillery mentioned in your letter of the 4th,* now preparing for field service, is the battery referred to in General Gist's communications, of which you were notified, and whether the Washington Artillery is intended by the governor to be attached permanently to Stevens' Legion, or for general service in the field?
Your plan of occupying the country between the Ediston and Combahee and occupying Edisto Island would be advantageous, if you had sufficient troops and guns to retain such an extent of country; but unless you can make the line sufficiently strong, or at least have the means of withdrawing the troops, it will, I fear, expose them to be taken in detail. If all the force was concentrated at advantageous points, I think the defense of the approaches would be more effective. I do not know