swept by the enemy's fortified positions on land, and with one side open to the sea under the guns of a numerous fleet; therefore the operation could but result in disaster, and ought no to be attempted; that we must now defend the north of the island as long as practicable, to gain time for resort to additional defenses, calculated to neutralize the advantage gained by the enemy and repair our loss of the position.
In the course of the conference, His Excellency the Governor inquired whether, if the expedition were successful and we drove the enemy from their positions and seized them, we would maintain possession, to which Generals Ripley and Taliaferro replied, not unless the blow were struck with such vigor as to result in killing, wounding, and capturing the chief part of the enemy's force on the island, and in the consequent paralysis of the expedition until additional force could be procured, thus giving us time to throw up the works contemplated before the enemy took possession of that part of the island.
In this connection, it was agreed that there could be no material gain forma ny attempt to dislodge the enemy which did not result in the destruction and capture of his force on the island, and thereby lead to at least a temporary suspension of vigorous hostile operations on his part.
The consequence of a check or failure of the attempt were also considered, to wit: That the men would necessarily be forced back between Batteries Wagner and Gregg, in a space incapable of affording shelter for more than 2,000 men at most, and that in this crowded and exposed state they would be left throughout the day (having no mode of retreat from the island), exposed to he shells and shot of the enemy's vessels and to inevitable slaughter; that is, a failure in all probability would end in a grave disaster, loss of life, and an irreparable loss of strength.
It having been stated by Generals Ripley and Taliaferro that the officers and men now on, Morris Island (already much exhausted and well acquainted with the ground) regarded the success of the expedition as of great doubt, and that the gain would be but transient, it was decided that those troops could not be placed at the head of the column of attack. It remains to add the following facts, which were carefully weighed, to wit:
1. That the ground was most unfavorable for offensive operations; that is, the troops must form an advance to the assault for at east a mile over a narrow, level space, nowhere wider than 200 yards, and frequently narrower; that they would reach the sand-hills, occupied by the enemy, very much blown, and that the ground was the whole way under the guns of the enemy's vessels.
2. The means of transportation were necessarily precarious, being old, patched-up, overworked steamboats.
The undersigned was present at the conference and discussion.
Brigadier-General, and Chief of Staff.
ADDENDA Numbers 3. GENERAL ORDERS,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF S. C., GA., AND FLA., Numbers 87.
Charleston, S. C., July 18, 1863.
While the commanding general regrets that the enemy has succeeded in effecting a landing upon Morris Island, he acknowledges