MORRIS ISLAND, September 8, 1863-6.55 p.m.
Your dispatch, by signal, stating that you intended to assault Summer to-night, was received by me an hour after I had dispatched my letter by one of my aides informing you that I intended the same thing. There should be but one commander in an operation of this kind, to insure success and prevent mistakes. I have designated two small regiments. Will your party join with them, the whole to be under command of the senior officer, or will the parties confer together and act in concert? The former method is much the best. What do you say?
OFF MORRIS ISLAND, September 8, 1863-7.10 p.m.
I have assembled 500 men, and I cannot consent to let the commander be other than a naval officer. Will you be kind enough to tell me what time you move, and what will be the watchword to prevent collision? The rank of my commanding officer will be lieutenant-colonel, but if it will be of service in avoiding any question of rank, I will send one of the rank of colonel who has done the duty of commodore, the equal of brigadier-general.
SEPTEMBER 8, 1863.
You decline to act in concert with me or allow the senior officer to command the assault on Sumter, but insist that a naval officer must command the party.* Why this should be so in assaulting a fortification, I cannot see. I am so fearful that some accident will take place between our parties that I would recall my own if it were not too late.
I sent you the watchword by special messenger, who has returned. We must trust to chance and hope for the best. No matter who gets the fort, if we place our flag over it.
GENERAL ORDERS, HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE SOUTH, No. 73. In the Field, Morris Island, S. C., September 9, 1863.
The brigadier-general commanding desires to make this public acknowledgment of the benefits for which his command has been indebted to the U. S. Sanitary Commission, and to express his thanks to the gentlemen whose humane efforts in procuring and distributing much needed articles of comfort have so materially alleviated the sufferings of the soldiers.
*Only the first words of this dispatch were sent by signals; the rest were communicated to acting flag-officer, Lieutenant Preston, on the same evening.-GILLMORE.