War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0263 Chapter XV. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION.

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returns I propose to send her to Edisto, with a battery of artillery, and if you have been able to obtain a proper pilot, which my own inquiries have not enabled me to possess as yet, I should be happy to meet your wishes inhaling him accompany her, and tow the Dale out from Otter Island. Will you please let me know immediately if you have a pilot?

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. W. BENHAM,

Brigadier-General.

HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,

Hilton Head, Port Royal, S. C., April 3, 1862

Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Secretary of War:

SIR: I have the honor to report my arrival here on the 30th ultimo. I address you by the first opportunity since my arrival.

I find about 17,000 troops scattered along the coast from Saint Augustine, Fla., to North Edisto Inlet, South Carolina, distributed as follows:

At Saint Augustine, Fla.................................. 200

At Jacksonville, Fla..................................... 1,400

At mouth of Saint John's River, Fla...................... 70

At Fernandina, Fla....................................... 900

At Tybee Island, Ga...................................... 2,200

At Daufuskie Island, S. C................................. 1,600

At Bird Island, S. C...................................... 300

At Jones Island, S. C...................................... 300

At Hilton Head, S. C...................................... 4,500

At Bay Point, S. C........................................ 80

At Beaufort, S. C......................................... 3,600

At Otter Island, S. C..................................... 450

At North Edisto River, S. C............................... 1,400

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17,000

It is my opinion that this force is entirely too much scattered and is subject to be cut off in detail.

I shall order an abandonment of Jacksonville, Fla., and the re-enforcement of Forts Marion and Clinch. From later accounts I may add the Union feeling in Florida is not so strong as we were first induced to believe.

The batteries for opening on Fort Pulaski have been retarded by the non-arrival of the necessary guns, ammunition, &c. But Captain Gillmore, who deserves great credit for his untiring and scientific exertions, is now nearly ready, and by the next steamer I hope to be able to announce to you the fall of Pulaski. We then shall be able to hold the Savannah River with a small force and to concentrate on Charleston.

General Sherman made a requisition in December for five steamers drawing not more than 6 feet each. He informs me that they were purchased for him and sent from New York, but put into Hatteras in a storm, and are there detained by General Burnside. We are still very much in want of these light-draught boats, and as we have but three wagons to a regiment, they are absolutely essential.

On my leaving Washington you had the kindness to promise me whatever force I might ask. We shall do all that men can do with the small force we have; but it distresses me to be in such a beautiful situation for striking strong blows without the arms to strike. I beg that you as all the officers in command report the re-enforcement of the enemy on their respective fronts.