Island, and re-enforcements are also reported on James Island. Intercepted dispatches indicate that the enemy is also busily at work on Fort Sumter as well as on Bee and Marshall. I keep up a regular fire upon Charleston from the 100-pounder Parrott, with most excellent effect.
Some intelligent deserters, who came to the navy on yesterday direct from Charleston, informed me that within the last week our fire has been more destructive than ever before to the city. The shells fall more than two blocks above Calhoun street, into the most populous portion of the city. The city is completely within the range of our guns an can be destroyed.
The materials for building the stockade have not yet arrived, and consequently no progress has been made in this much-needed work. The naval battery is progressing very slowly; we have no material for the bomb-proof. Within the last two days the work on this battery has been greatly interfered with by a corps of sharpshooters which the enemy has stationed on Fort Sumter. The bullets came in very thick when I was at the front this morning. I hope if there are any telescopic rifles in the department or any can be procured, they may be sent to met at once. I think I can use them to great advantage.
The shelling from the enemy's mortars was severe this morning on our front works, and having but little mortar powder we were unable to reply effectively. The mortars were very much needed to-day. I regret that our ordnance supplies are so scanty that I cannot make a decent defense of this important post. No powder for the mortars, no suitable fuses for the fire on Charleston, no shells for the 30-pounder Parrotts (a most useful gun for silencing the enemy's fire), no material for making cartridge bags or grease for lubricating the projectiles. I shall do all in my power with what I have, but these deficiencies in materials which are of such vital importance to successful operations I deem it my duty to call your attention to, in the hope that they may soon be supplied. More ammunition for the 300-pounder - the most useful gun in these works - is also very much wanted.
The prisoners now confined in front of Fort Strong are well cared fro and quiet. In their firing the enemy seem to disregard them entirely. No casualties have as yet occurred among them.
Our batteries act entirely upon the defensive, except the one gun on Charleston. I have issued the inclosed (confidential) orders* to the field and staff officers of this command, to be observed in case of an attack for the purpose of rescuing the prisoners now in our hands. The rations for them are regulated in accordance with the ration list you sent me. The deserters report that our prisoners from Andersonville, Ga., are being moved to Charleston, and that 10,000 of our soldiers are now in the city. I cannot express too strongly my own convictions of the great importance of having all the materials sent here to place the forts and batteries with their armament and magazines in complete order for service.
I am, general, with great respect, yours, truly,
Major General J. G. FOSTER,
Commanding Department of the South.
*See General Orders, No. 56, September 15, Part II, p.289