War of the Rebellion: Serial 020 Page 0405 Chapter XXVI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

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[Inclosure Numbers 2.]


Hilton Head, Port Royal, S. C., February 12, 1863.

Brigadier General H. M. NAGLEE,

Commanding U. S. Forces, Land's End, St. Helena Island, S. C.:

GENERAL: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of yesterday, in which you protest agains allowing the forces under your command to be considered a portion of this department and army corps, and in which you further speak of possessing confidential orders, only to be used in a certain contingency, which contingency (you say) has not yet arisen; your letter further accounting that the troops recently sent under orders of the Government to re-enforce this department had been promised (you do not specify particularly by whom) a speedy return to North Carolina, and that they are specially anxious to serve under a favorite general.

It is high time that the imputation against American troops that they are only willing to serve under particular generals of their own choice and not those assigned to their command by Government should be set at rest. In two prominent instances it was clamorously raised, with threats of a general mutiny, &c., by a few interested parties; but on the matters being but to the test of experiment the prompt, encysting, and hearty fidelity of the troops showed how little foundation there had been for the charges prejudicial to their loyalty. I am far from wishing to suggest that in the manner of your protest on this point there has been any spirit of insubordination manifested; but as the mere statement of the point was utterly irrelevant to the discussion of a technical question of army laws, usages, and discipline I have given it this notice. Considering it highly improper and destructive of all military discipline that subordinate officers should be furnished with confidential or secret instructions by intermediate commanders, such instructions being, withheld from the general commanding in chief, and only to be used by the subordinate general in the event of secret contingencies, I hereby call upon and order you to furnished to these headquarters a certified copy or report of all the service instructions, verbal or written, received by you from Major-General Foster of from any other person and dwelt upon in your protect.

Knowing that General Foster had not original been ordered to accompany the re-enforcements brought down by you, but had come here on my invitation, as an officer well acquainted with Charleston Harbor, and therefore likely to be of much service by his suggestions and by the interest he would feel in the operations, I confess I regarded him rather as a guest than as a subordinate, and from a spirit of courtesy forbore as much as possible from giving orders that would look like a too hasty assumption of command. I regret exceedingly that this courtesy should have been so strangely and wholly misconstrued as to be considered a license for insubordination. All my "requests", on which you lay so much stress, were regarded by me as orders to be promptly obeyed, the word " request" being frequently substituted by army usage for "order" in the case of superior officers. Thus when I requested you, to land your troops, the first day of your arrival, on Saint Helena Island, it was by me regarded as an order, and should most certainly have been adhered to and enforceen had you then given me the least reason to in fear that you doubted my competency to issue orders to your command. As you did not raise the question, however, but represented merely that General Foster was following you and might be expected at any moment,