no work was to be done at battery Marshall, unless approved and directed by Engineers, and they were transmitted accordingly. To the best of my knowledge, the directions have been obeyed. The work, however, faulty or meritorious, has progressed slowly, although I am informed that every detailed applied for has furnished.
While these matters transpired, a communication was received warning me that an attack in boats by landing on Sullivan's Island and other places was imminent. After having carefully looked to the means of defense at my disposal, and make requisitions to fill deficiencies, I ordered the dispositions mentioned in a circular of the 8th instant, which was duly transmitted to the headquarters of the department. The direction contained in that circular have not been, to my knowledge, disapproved by the general commanding, and the officers commanding sub-divisions have proceeded to carry them out and provide against specified. In consultation with Brigadier-General Clingman and Colonel Hamilton, it was through proper to do certain temporary work, with such limited resources as were at hand. For the more certain execution of these instructions, both these officers proceeded to do the work. Meantime, Lieutenant-Colonel Harris, I am given to understand, interferes again, lays out lines which interfere with those established with my approval by Colonel Hamilton, and directs details, implements, &c., in a manner unmistakably at variance with the measures adopted by the local, with the approval of the district, commander. This was in a matter, too, over which he properly had no control, and which had not been mentioned by any engineer before the work commenced.
The effect of this particular interference may be of small moment. In consideration of the temporary character of the work, and present indications of the enemy's course, it probably will be. But it is one of series of acts on the part of the Engineers, under a system which was obtained, referring to General Orders, Numbers 95, from department headquarters, of the series of 1862, by which, practically, the alternative is presented to commanding officers, to submit the defense of the localities with which they are charged to inferior and oftentimes incompetent officers of the Engineers, or to disposal with artificial advantages altogether.
In entering, as I have now the honor to do, a protest against the continuance of a system by which the best interests of the service, the safety of one of our most vital positions, the welfare of the communities looking to the officers and soldiers here employed for safety, and in no small degree the success of our cause, are confined practically to officers of a staff department whose administration has been characterized by inactivity, and oftentimes faulty dispositions and waste of labor instructed them for special purpose, and confined to their control by the commanding general, it is fitting that I should refer to other instances than that just quoted, which may or may not be hurtful in itself. The principle is the same, and the history of the past few months has abundant material to justify this communication.
Going no further back than the 7th of April last, it is well known that but little was done by the Engineers to refit and repair the defenses of Fort Sumter, that the effort to give outside protection was riffing, the replenishing the stores of sand taken from the parade slow and inefficient, and, as I had the honor to inform the headquarters of the department on the 24th of May last, that the work for the protection