We now only await the return of the iron-clads from Fort McAllister and the signal of the admiral to start, all our preparations being complete, so that nothing is left but to embark them.
And now to the only disturbing element in the department-an element, however, which shall not be allowed to operate to the detriment of the public interests.
I have the honor to transmit herewith certified copy of another protest-the third altogether, in formal shape, received from Brigadier-General Henry M. Heglee, who appears to be devoting himself with all his energies to a revival in his own person of these pretension which were disallowed and disapproved in the case of Major-General Foster. I say this is the third protest "in formal shape" received from General Naglee, the fact being that every order sent to him or paper referred has been made the occasion of an informal protest, either by indorsement or answer:
Previous to the receipt of your decision on the questions raised by Major-General Foster I was led to regard the vexatious, quibbling, and evasive course pursued by General Naglee as the result merely of his desire to protect interests that had been confided to his charge by his former commanding officer, General Naglee in almost every instance accompanying his written protest by verbal protestations that he was no party to the difficulty himself, and that he only acted as he did in ordered to make a record which could not be used to his disadvantage in case he should ever hereafter be returned to General Foster's command. Frankly accepting this view of his conduct, and as frankly giving him credit therefore, I failed to avail myself of the authority by you given to relieve him of his command, but on the contrary sent him a friendly and even complimentary letter, duplicate of which is inclosed, * expressing this view of his previous action, and stating my desire to retain him and my hope that he would have ne reason to regret his service in this department. But ever since the sending of that letter, for which it would appear as if he had been waiting, General Naglee has pursued a systematic course of vexatious delays, evasive special pleading, and distorted interpretations with regard to all orders sent from these headquarters, his object apparently being to assert and obtain by indirection and mere annoyance an acknowledgment in his own person of the claims to separate and independent command first raised by Major-General Foster. So far has this gone that I much fear he will compel me ta avail myself of the privilege given by you of relieving him from command in this department-a privilege, hoverer, of which I shall not avail myself until the good of the public service makes such a step unavoidable.
All the difficulty would be avoided by the consolidation of the re-enforcements from North Carolina with the Tenth Army Corps; the whole not making, even when thus consolidated, an aggregate much, if at all, exceeding 22,000 men, and I have most earnestly to beg that this may be done.
I have also to beg that some brigadier-general senior to General Naglee may be sent to this department immediately.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
* See p. 412, Halpine to Naglee, february 27, 1863.