officer of the rebels stating that these prisoners, such as you may capture, will be held responsible for the safe return of our men, and that until their return no flags of truce or other communication can be permitted with men who have so grossly violated the laws of war.
The pretense of the absence of a commissioned officer or of the national flag, while a white flag was flying, being considered mere subterfuges to cover their base intention and conduct.
By order of Brigadier General H. W. Benham:
[A. B. ELY,]
Aide-de-Camp and Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES, COCKSPUR, DAUFUSKIE, AND TYBEE ISLANDS,
Fort Pulaski, May 20, 1862.
GENERAL: The dismantling of the Jones Island battery was completed last night. Four of the guns are now here. The scow in which the other two are is aground at the head of Cockspur Island, but will be got down at high tide. The Mayflower is now towing down the hulk. When she has brought it ot the dock I shall send her to Daufuskie for the schooner there to take the guns. I have given directions to have the engineer tools collected at Tybee and placed on board the Ellen. In accordance with your instructions of the 17th instant the balloon was inflated day before yesterday with the intention of sending it up yesterday. The Mayflower being otherwise occupied, I did not send it up.
Having received your letter of yesterday, I send word to Mr. Starkweather that the balloon would not be sent up to-day. He, however, misunderstanding my message, and thinking that I meant to say only that the steamer would not take it up the river or creek, made an ascension from here. This ascension has resulted in the discovery of two new rebel camps, one on each side of the river, within supporting distance of the pickets. Mr. O'Rorke has been up, and thinks that the one on the south bank of the river is at or this side of Four Mile Point, and is large enough to contain four or five companies. The other is opposite to it or a little higher up, and possibly is on of the islands,
I think it probable that the pickets themselves as well as their supports have been strengthened. It would not have been possible for me to organize a boat expedition for to-night on anything like the scale which you mentioned. I could not collect and prepare the boats in time. Were this otherwise, I should not feel at liberty to proceed after the discovery of this morning until I had reported it to you and received further instructions, for the difficulty of the undertaking appears to me to be very much increased by the additional force which has been placed there. I shall proceed to get the boats ready in case you shall think it best to go on. I might make a suggestion; it would be that if a few gunboats could be spared temporarily, either from Wassaw Sound or Port Royla, to go up the river with the Mayflower and the balloon, keeping just out of the range of the batteries, and if at the last moment, before our operations at the northward commence, all the small steamers which could be spared were to go up with empty schooners in tow of these latter, having enough men on board of them to give them the appearance of large transports with troops, sufficient alarm could be