it. I wish we were prepared to strike a blow at this time, so as to anticipate the rebel plans if they have any. I shall be ready as soon as I can get torpedo catchers rigged to the few army gunboats we have, and few pontoon-boats made.
The health of the command is generally good, although the sick-list on the increase. This must be expected in this climate at this season. I have made arrangements to insure as great attention as possible to the health and comfort of the troops.
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., July 7, 1864.
GENERAL: I have the honor to report that I left here on the evening of the 1st instant with a force of about 5,000 infantry, 100 cavalry, and two sections of artillery, for the purpose of making a demonstration against Charleston and the railroad leading to Savannah. We entered the mouth of the North Edisto River on the morning of the 2nd instant, and proceeded immediately to land on Seabrook Island a force under Brigadier General John P. Hatch, which consisted of three white regiments from his own district, and Brigadier General R. Saxton, with three regiments colored troops and one white regiment, and one battery of artillery, and 100 cavalry.
General Hatch's orders were to push forward to the upper part of John's Island, to seize the ferry, cross over, and, if possible, destroy the railroad; at any rate, to destroy the bridge over Rantowles Creek with his artillery. I then sailed up the Edisto to White Point, where I landed Brigadier-General Birney, with 1,200 infantry and two pieces of artillery. His orders were to push forward to the railroad, place torpedoes under the track, to endeavor to destroy the bridge over South Edisto River, and, if fortune favored, to destroy the trestle-work between it and the Ashepoo, and the bridge over the Ashepoo River. General Birney, however, did not move forward with sufficient alacrity, and on the following morning at 7 o'clock had only proceeded about 5 miles into the country, where, at the intersection of the road by a creek, he found a small force of the enemy posted with a few pieces of artillery. I ordered General Birney to cross the creek with a boat (which I furnished him, on wheels, for emergencies like this), while I went up Dawho Creek with two small gun-boats and shelled the battery on the flank. General Birney, however, soon reported his incapability to carry out my order and asked to withdrawn, which I was forced to allow him to do. I then ordered him to re-embark and move around to the Stono River and join Brigadier-General Schimmelfenning's force.
Brigadier-General Schimmelfennig, on the night of the 1st, advanced with his disposable force (about 2,000 infantry) on James Island and had assaulted and carried one of the enemy's batteries, capturing two 24-pounder howitzers; this battery, however, was directly in front and within grape-shot range of all the batteries in the first line of the enemy's defenses, extending from Secessionville to Fort Pringle. He, however, held it during the following day and