I do not know the force in Savannah, but, with over 200 miles from the North Carolina to the Georgia line, it seems to me that we have not more than 20,000 effective, and probably that estimate is too large. The greater portion of this force is between this point and Savannah, guarding our line of communications between the two cities, and from circumstances of topography it is weak and liable to be cut.
Free communication between the cities is of great importance, and so long as there were any hopes of a speedy termination of the war the defense of the rich plantations on Paw Paw, Ashepoo, and Combahee of little less. But if the news of our disaster in Tennessee be correct, the war may last long indeed. The Santee, Pedee, and Waccamaw countries are comparatively undefended, except by nature, which has provided a strong defense in the shoals and bars at the mouths of the rivers. Nevertheless, should the enemy be successful in an attack upon either of our cities, we must expect to be attacked there. If, however, we hold the cities and the Santee and Georgetown districts, the Ashley and Cooper being within the limits of Charleston, with the resources of the interior at command, we shall have the principal part of the grain country within our hands. I take it for granted it will be out of the question to get a crop from either Combahee, Ashepoo, or Paw Paw.
Our weakest points between this city and Savannah are this side Paw Paw, and near Charleston. North Edisto affords a safe harbor for vessels of from 14 to 16 feet of water, and thence they can come to White Point or Simon's Landing in force. They are from 5 to 8 miles of the railroad, a short half day's march.
General Evans' force, it must be remembered, is divided, a considerable portion being on John's Island. I shall certainly support him with all the means at my disposal, but out of my effective it would be hard to get 1,500 movable troops. This would hardly suffice to make a successful stand.
Now, if a disposition is made which would strengthen the points near to Charleston by drawing troops from the vicinity of Pocotaligo, this side of Paw Paw, strong guards being at or in advance of the railroad bridges on Ashepoo and Combahee, while the obstructions in the Coosawhatchie is held as a strong advanced post by the troops defending the Carolina shore of the Savannah, General Evans' force closing in on the landings on the Wadmalaw and Stono, the landings on the Wadmalaw and Stono, the approach to Charleston from that vicinity would be comparatively secure. Troops here and to be raised could be thrown in readiness to support the advance as soon as they convalesced, and any surplus we may have can be placed northward to defend the country in that direction.
This it may be said would leave a very rich section of the country undefended. But no crop comes from that country this year if the war continues, and it is well-night exhausted now of those necessaries which, in my opinion, first rendered it advisable to hold it in force. Our weak point on the Charleston and Savannah road would be about Ashepoo and Combahee. The weak point now is close to Charleston. Should the forces of the enemy make a dash, they have comparatively no distance to march to cut the rail.
In the case supposed, they would at any point have twice or thrice the distance to march, or take a narrow and tortuous route of from 30 to 50 miles up tidal rivers; moreover, neither we nor the enemy can hold the line of the railroad about Coosawhatchie or Pocotaligo or at Salkehatchie or Ashepoo Ferry more than six or seven weeks longer. We shall have to take the healthy regions about Adams Run, and the sandy sea isl-