of the chief engineer and his several subordinates, submitted by the commanding general,on the 14th instant, to the inspector-general of the department, who made his report on the 18th instant.
The whole subject-matter was then carefully considered by the commanding general, whose views and conclusions I am instructed to communicate to the following effect:
The delays complained of are not rightly attributed to either the neglect or carelessness of the engineers in charge of the works on Morris Island, but have been due chiefly to the want of labor and means of transportation, which have been, and still are, serious drawbacks to the completion of the defensive works in the First Military District, South Carolina. When work is done on fortifications by details of soldiers, the engineer officers in charge have a general supervision of the work in progress; they furnish, as far as practicable, the tools and material required, and the plans, and give to the officers of the line in immediate command of the working parties any explanations that may be wanted; but the latter alone are responsible for any delays which may occur from the manner in which the men shall do the work.
The engineer in charge, however, is expected to report to his chief any lack of energy or zeal on the part of the working parties, and which shall, without delay, be brought by the chief engineer to the notice of the district commander, who, of course, will promptly apply the necessary remedies.
Therefore, the course pursued in removing Mr. Cheves form the charge of the work on Morris Island, and substituting in his place an artillery officer, Captain Mitchel properly should have been placed in immediate command of the working details, in accordance with the orders of this department, and no advantage has been gained by the deviation from these orders. Mr. Cheves will, therefore, be restored to his duties as engineer in charge of the works on Morris Island.
Upon investigation, the bridges and causeways complained of, though not made of the best material, or as substantial as may be desired, yet in the emergency for which they were provided, it is delieved can be used with safety for the passage of infantry, as soon as the communication shall have been established between James and Morris Islands.
Rap[id and early means of communication between the points in question were deemed more essential than mere strength of the structure. Greater strength can ultimately be secured by addition of branches and intermediate supports, as designed by the chief engineer, who will take the proper measures to increase the strength of the working parties engaged in the work.
Should the grass near the causeways be liable to catch fire, it should be kept closely mowed by the troops on James and Morris Islands, for at least 50 feet on each side, as a precaution against destruction by fire.
The quartermaster's department will be instructed to insure the utmost possible dispatch in the transportation of all the material needed by the engineers.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Chief of Staff.