as I can properly withdraw from my defensive line, "to resist an attack, if one should be designed on that place; but if the purpose of the enemy be to send his re-enforcements to the Mississippi, I am to "go on and co-operate with General Johnston in that quarter."
While I shall be glad to contribute my mite to them defense of any part of the Confederate States, and assuredly, must be solicitous for the defense of Mobile and the Mississippi Valley, yet, with my view of the situation in this quarter, repeatedly expressed, I cannot now properly withdraw, without a direct order, more than a regiment of cavalry from this department.
The troops left in this department at this time (see field return of the 13th instant),* are 19,863; that is, 6,488 nominal infantry, 7,329 heavy and light artillery, and 6,064 cavalry. This force is stationed as follows: For the garrisons of the works in Charleston Harbor and the defensive lines commanding the immediate approaches to the city, 2,606 infantry, of which some four or six companies are actually and necessarily doing heavy artillery service in batteries on Sullivan's Island and elsewhere; 3,767 heavy and light artillery, and 1,171 cavalry. In the works and lines around Savannah are 1,888 nominal infantry, 2,295 heavy and light artillery, and 1,738 cavalry, leaving 948 infantry, 847 light artillery, and 2,224 cavalry to hold the line of the Charleston and Savannah Railroad, and 1,010 infantry, 420 light artillery, and 893 cavalry in Florida, now so important for its supplies of subsistence.
Thus will be seen the force in the department is already at the minimum necessary to hold the works around Charleston and Savannah, constantly menaced by the proximity of the enemy's iron-clads. The garrison of no work in the harbor can be withdraw or diminished, as they are all necessary links in the chain of defense. Reduce the command on James Island, and the enemy may readily penetrate, by such a coup de main as was attempted last year, at the weakened point. James Island would then fall, and, despite our harbor defenses, the city of Charleston would be thrown open to bombardment. It is not safe to leave less than a regiment of infantry on Moris Island, which, if once carried by the enemy, would expose Fort Sumter to be taken in reserve and demolished.
The defective lines of defense adopted and constructed on James Island, after the unfortunate abandonment last year of Cole's Island, have made a force of about 11,000 men essential to guard and hold that island against a serious land attack, whereas had Cole's Island (at the mouth of the Stono) been held, 2,500 men would not only have defended James Island, but the enemy would have been excluded from the Stono, and unable to occupy and fortify Folly Island and threaten Morris Island, as is now the case.
late Northern papers say Admiral DuPont has been relieved in command of the fleet on this coast by Admiral Foote, an officer whose operations in the west evinced much activity and an enterprising spirit. And even considerable reductions made in the enemy's forces, the valuable coast districts would still be left a prey to such destructive raids as devastated the Combahee some days ago. Thus far, however, I can see no evidences of reduction. General Hunter was at Hilton Head on the 8th instant. His troops hold the same positions as heretofore, and apparently in the same force - a brigade on Folly, one on Seabrook's Island, and the balance on the islands about
* See "Confederate Correspondence, etc.," Part II.