that have been executed or are in progress, or in contemplation, against Savannah and Fort Pulaski, to include everything that in my judgement "the Department should know, or that would be useful to the Government or the forces there, and generally as to the means proposed or wanted for a speedy and successful result."
In obedience to this order, I have the honor respectfully to state that, apparently with a view to forming a basis of operations, a considerable area has been fortified at Hilton Head by means of a line of earthworks, a block-house batteries, flooding the marshes, &c., and the construction of piers, one of great length and to deep water (21 feet low tide).
This area is sufficient to encamp from 25,000 to 30,000 men, crowded; is now defended by the guns of Fort Welles, two in the beach battery on our right, and twenty -two guns in the works in the advance.
The guns are not up in the beach battery on our left.
From this point detachments have been sent forward.
Early in January last, obstructions placed by the rebels in Wall's Cut, consisting of pikes and an old ship, were taken away by our forces. Subsequently a battery of six guns was built by us on Jones Island, at Venus Point, in the Savannah River, and recently another on Bird Island, still nearer to Savannah, which by this time mounts three or four guns.
At Tybee Island mortars are being landed and mortar beds and platforms are being erected. A battery of three guns was placed on Goat's Point, but it was understood when I left that it was to be abandoned, and a sap worked up from near the Martello Tower (which has been repaired), and the mortars placed in position against Pulaski as far up the beach as possible. Thirteen mortars had landed up to 8th instant, two of them 13-inch.
I learned from an officer of the Navy, on the way to New York, that an old hulk had just been placed by our forces in Lazaretto Creek, about one and a quarter miles from Fort Pulaski.
Fort Pulaski is said by a rebel deserter to contain 427 men, nine months' provisions, and six months' water.
The old rebel battery at the point of Great Warsaw Island is in our possession.
The Skidaway battery opposite Koming marsh, at the mouth of the Wilmington River, had not been reduced up to the 8th instant. It is said to be very strong.
The rebels are also camped near Bonaventura, and between there and Fort Jackson, on the Thunderbolt road. Rumor had it that about 30,000 to 35,000 rebels were in and about Savannah, but of the truth of these suppositions I have my doubts.
A large siege train is being put together at Hilton Head, but progress very slowly; eight or nine guns were ready last Saturday. I was informed the ammunition was not yet prepared.
As to what is contemplated against Savannah I am entirely ignorant.
Against Fort Pulaski, I know that ordered have been given to prepare to reduce it.
It was several weeks supposed that a passage for gunboats existed from Port Royal Sound into the Savannah River above Fort Pulaski when the obstructions in Wall's Cut were removed, but it is now found otherwise, at least for a draught of more than 7 feet or water at high tide, except within range of the guns of the fort.
A reconnaissance has been made up the north side of the Savannah River from Jones Island to above the Union Causeway, about a mile and a quarter from the City of Savannah, by which it has been ascertained that