armed as infantry. This force was disposed as follows when I left Port Royal on the 29th ultimo:
At Hilton Head and at Bay Point, on opposite side of entrance, six regiments of infantry, one regiment volunteer engineers, one regiment cavalry, and two light batteries.
At Beaufort, S. C., five regiments and three companies of infantry, one light battery, and three companies of regulars.
At Fort Pulaski, one regiment.
At Fernandina, one regiment.
At Saint Augustine, seven companies.
3rd. The force remaining in the Department of the South is not only amply sufficient to hold the posts now occupied, with the aid afforded by the Navy, but may in my judgement be still further reduced without endangering the safety of any of the positions, the extent of the reduction depending upon the policy adopted of covering the coast to a considerable extent from the incursions of the rebels or simply holding the points of actual military importance.
Assuming that all the positions now occupied are to be maintained, it would be entirely safe, I think, to withdraw four more regiments of infantry, the regiment of cavalry, the whole or a part of the volunteers engineer regiments, and one or two of the ought batteries. The remaining troops, distributed as follows, would cover securely all the positions now occupied.
At Beaufort, four regiments infantry, one light battery, and three companies of regulars.
At Hilton Head and Bay Point, four regiments of infantry and any part of the engineer not withdrawn.
At Fernanding, one regiment, as at present.
At Fort Pulaski, and Saint Augustine, one regiment of infantry distributed, six companies at the former and four companies at the latter place.
The cavalry is of little service in the department, and should be withdrawn if needed elsewhere. Should the demand for troops be so pressing as to justify a change of policy in regard to the occupation of positions in the Department of the South, a still further reduction of force might be made to the extent of two regiments. This would leave eight regiments of infantry and one battery of artillery in the department, and would involve the abandonment of Beaufort, and consequently the withdrawal of the contrabands from Port Royal and the adjacent islands and their establishment on Hilton Head. This change of policy is of doubtful expedience, and is recommended only in case the services of the two additional regiments secured thereby are imperatively required elsewhere. The withdrawal of four more infantry regiments, the regiment of cavalry, the whole or a part of the engineer regiment, and Hamilton's regular battery is however confidently recommended.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. G. WRIGHT,
Brigadier-General of Volunteer.
WAR DEPT., ADJT. GENERAL'S OFFICE, Numbers 98.
Washington, August 8, 1862.
West Florida is detached from the Department of the South and
24 R R-VOL XIV