My recent letters to the Adjutant-General will show the general status of affairs in this expedition. We hold the whole coast from North-Edisto, S. C., to Saint Augustine, Fla. Rapid preparations are being made for the reduction of Fort Pulaski, Ga., and the Savannah River is occupied with a sufficient force to cut off all communications and supplies from Savannah.
The attack of Savannah, for which we have been making preparations, has been given up, by direction of Major-General McClellan.
The fire will be opened on Pulaski as soon as all the material has arrived from the North.
I have left Brigadier-General Wright with three regiments and two sections of light artillery, in the occupation of Fernandina, Jacksonville, and Saint Augustine, with the hope and expectation that by judicious management East Florida will soon be regenerated.
No operations can be made on the main of South Carolina, and Georgia for the want of proper means of transportation-viz, light-draught steamers, boats, and wagons-which have all failed to reach here, notwithstanding early and repeated requisitions for them. Now, indeed, that our forces have become so much scattered in the occupation of so extensive a coast, more troops will be required for any extensive inland operations.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
T. W. SHERMAN,
Jacksonville, Fla., March 27, 1862.
Lieutenant Colonel LOUIS BELL,
COLONEL: I have to acknowledge the receipt this evening of you two letters of the 26th and 27th instant, respectively; also yours of the 23rd, forwarded by the dispatch schooner Azalea.*
I much regret that at present I do not see how any of the force at this post or at Fernandina can be spared to re enforce your command. Here our force is not too great for our own security against the force the enemy could readily bring if he were disposed to attack us, unprovided as we are with defenses of any kind, and with a long line, which we must picket for our own safety. Neither is the force at Fernandina too large, seeing that the fort at that point is of little moment.
I look upon your position as the most secure by far of either of the three posts, even with your present small force, in view of the defensible condition of Fort Marion, now that you have so successfully established the heavy ordnance on the work.
It is not doubt true that you cannot with your present strength successfully defend the town from any attempt in force against it; and I should therefore advise that you confine your undertakings mainly to the fort and its surroundings, leaving the defense of the place, to some extent, at least, to the inhabitants. Give the people to understand that they are to help themselves, and that you will then aid them. This, at any time, is all they could demand. In their present attitude, judging from your views as to their want of loyalty, it is more than they have a right to expect.
*None of these found.