It will take two months hard drilling before some of them are fit to be placed in action. I shall collect a brigade of white regiments at this place to be drilled and made ready for any emergency.
The reports from Florida indicate the withdrawal of nearly all the Confederate troops except one or two regiments of Georgia cavalry. The Florida militia is the principal force in the field opposed to us in that district.
This department has been nearly depleted of its transportation, and does not possess sufficient to make the ordinary transfers of troops and supplies without considerable delays. It will be very difficult and almost impossible to make an effective military movement until this want is supplied, at least in part. Nearly all the boats, pontoons, &c., were taken away with the Tenth Corps, together with nearly all the lumber, nearly 200,000 feet. I am, however, trying to build new pontoons. We very much need some light-draught steamers for operations in the inland waters, similar to those built by Mr. Wiard, of New York, and delivered at Fort Monroe. I have written a letter upon this subject, dated June 11, respectfully calling your attention to it and explaining the necessities of the case.
The health of the department is thus far good, and I am convinced, if our precautions and plans are fully carried out, that we shall have very little sickness during the summer.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
Major General H. W. HALLECK,
Chief of Staff.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., June 22, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that nothing of importance has transpired since the date of my last report. On the 16th instant, the enemy fired a general feu de joie from all their batteries, some firing shot and shell and others blank cartridges. About 500 shots were fires in all in Charleston Harbor on that day. I am at a loss to account for this demonstration, except it be as a commemoration of the confirmation of the rebel Government or the repulse of General Benham at Secessionville. On the 20th, a reconnaissance in force was made by General Schimmelfenning on John's Island and a rebel battery near Legareville destroyed.
A Charleston paper of the 14th gives the names of the U. s. officers, prisoners of war, who arrived in that city on the 12th, and were to be quartered in the part of the city "most exposed to the enemy's (our) fire." I inclosed this list in another letter.* I am awaiting an answer to my letter of the 16th to you upon this subject.*
Our fire upon Charleston averages about 50 shots per day. From information received through the Navy Department the admiral is of the opinion that the rebel naval force, both outside and inside, will attempt some operation on this coast in a short time. The blockading fleet is at this time very weak, both in vessels and men to man them. I am, however, confident that we can hold our own in any emergency that may arise, and also said the navy if they need
*See Part II, p. 145.
+See Part II, p. 135.