duet of the troops while engaged in the assault and their steadiness and patient courage when compelled to retire.
I inclose herewith a copy of General Benham's report of his assault upon the enemy's fortifications, as also of my orders forbidding that any such movement should be made. You will see that General Benham endeavors to evade the responsibility of having violated his instructions by terming his attack upon the enemy's works a "reconnaissance in force," but such a plea is too puerile to deserve consideration.
In view of these circumstances and the serious consequences which have arisen from his disobedience I have felt it my duty to arrest General Benham and order him North by the steamer conveying this letter. This step has cost me much regret, as previous to this unhappy act of rashness he has bene industrious, energetic, and wholly devoted to his duties.
We still hold our former position, and shall continue to hold it so long as any hope of being enabled to make it useful by the receipt of re-enforcements shall remain. It is a most valuable point d'appui for operations against Charleston, and should not lightly be abandoned.
From all the evidence reaching me, however, I am satisfied that Charleston has been heavily re-enforced of late, possibly by some brigades from the Army of Corinth; and the injudicious attack of General Benham will doubtless contribute, both by its calling attention to the place and by the eclat of the Confederate success there, to still further swell the number of its defenders.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War, Washington.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, Port Royal, S. C., June 27, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith letters of Brigadier General H. G. Wright and Brigadier General I. I. Stevens, with explanatory copies of the letter of Brigadier-General Benham, to which they refer, and my letter of instructions to Brigadier-General Benham, dated June 10; also copy of General Benham's report of the action of the 16th instant on James Island.
You will see from the letters of General Wright and General Stevens that, in a council of war held on the evening previous to the attack, these officers, together with Colonel Williams, also commanding a brigade, remonstrated strongly and emphatically with General Benham, and warned him that he was about a fight a battle in violation of orders.
If consistent with the interests of the service, in your judgment, the publication, by transmission to Congress or otherwise, of this correspondence would greatly aid in setting this department right before the country.
I have the honor also to transmit herewith copy of my letter of instructions to Brigadier General H. G. Wright, directing the withdrawal of our forces from James Island to some more healthy location. The military reasons making this course advisable are fully set forth in the letter,