HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DISTRICT OF GEORGIA,
Savannah, Ga., July 21, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: I have the honor to call your attention to the fact that, under existing circumstances, it will be impossible to hold Savannah should the enemy see fit to attack it. The great diminution of the forces in this department, consequent upon the necessity of providing a new army in the west, has so enfeebled my means of defense that works before deemed merely advisable are become now absolutely necessary. All the re-enforcements I can hope to receive from the State of Georgia, without these additional defenses, will be found wholly inadequate to resist a serious and well-planned attack. The same causes which have operated the loss of the south end of Morris Island at Charleston will produce similar, if not more serious, results here. The want of troops begets the necessity of additional works, and the want of labor renders it impossible to meet that necessity.
While all the principal points around the city have been as well fortified as the amount of labor hitherto procurable has permitted, at least two flank approaches of the highest importance have been necessarily neglected.
First. The Georgia Central Railroad, the principal artery of communication with the interior, can be cut by the enemy whenever he shall have succeeded in forcing one of our outposts, and, this effected, Savannah will be in a condition of regular investment and siege.
Second. Fort Bartow, at Causton's Bluff, my principal reliance for holding the Savannah River batteries, will itself prove ineffective, unless the peninsula in its rear be defended. This peninsula cannot be held, with all the troops I can hope to obtain, unless fortified, and once in the possession of the enemy, he would be enabled (1) to reduce Fort Bartow by siege, and (2) to shell out the river batteries by a reverse fire.
I consider it certain that no number of troops we can possibly obtain in the present circumstances of the Confederacy can possibly hold these two vital points without the assistance of fortifications.
It has always been advisable to fortify these points, and in that view I sent Captain McCrady, my chief engineer, to you at Richmond, in the end of April last, to obtain permission to impress negro labor for the purpose. He returned unsuccessful. Since that time every source of supplly has been tried in vain. By every means it has been possible to use, I have succeeded in collecting about 150 negroes (with the promise of about 100 more), and most of them have been but recently obtained. One contractor, whose proposal for earth work had been accepted, after in vain endeavoring to procure labor in this State and in South Carolina, went so far as to send agents to Mississippi with a large amount of money to make cash purchases of negroes. These agents have just returned unsuccessful. Another contractor, whose proposal had also been accepted, after engaging from 100 to 300 negroes, failed to procure them, because of the enemy's raid at Brunswick and Darien, and the late attack on Morris Island, the owners breaking their engagements because alarmed at what they suppose the insecurity of the coast.
Matters have, therefore, reached that point at which the forcible process of impressment alone will furnish the needful labor. I have, consequently, made this day a strong appeal to His Excellency Governor Brown to use the authority granted him by the Legisla-