defense. Abreast of Morris Island lie the principal part of the blockading fleet. Inside of the Stono and behind Folly Island there has been always an ample naval force. The works for the defense of these islands and their outposts are mostly inclosed, are surrounded with formidable obstacles, and are perfectly safe against sudden assault if held with even moderate vigilance. My instructions have been to close the barrier, or gate, at the entrance every evening at sunset and not open it until sunrise in the morning. I announced those instructions to you as of great importance. If properly carried out, the position on the islands in front of Charleston, with the cordial co-operation which the navy has always afforded, would be securely held by 4,000 men. The force which I leave behind would justify the keeping of from 6,000 to 7,000 men on Morris and Folly Islands without hazarding the security of other points.
Second. The district around Port Royal Harbor, including Port Royal Island and Fort Pulaski, our deports on Hilton Head island, and machine-shops at Land's End, Saint Helena Island. Five thousand men would be ample for the defense of this district. Between 6,000 and 7,000 men will be available for it without risking other points. The town of Beaufort and our depot at Hilton Head are both well fortified. A permanent garrison of 200 experienced artillerists is enough for Fort Pulaski. The orders are to keep both draw bridges raised during the night time. Big Tybee Island is occupied by a picket sent from Fort Pulaski. Ample naval co-operation has been afforded in this district. Hilton Head and Port Royal Islands are surrounded by deep water, navigable by gun-boats. An armed transport has always been attached to the command on Port Royal Island, and another to the command on Hilton Head island for patrolling the waters.
Third. The District of Florida, with which you are familiar, having been recently in command there for several weeks. Prior to the recent occupation of the west bank of the Saint John's River our troops occupied but two points in that State, each with a small force, viz, Saint Augustine and Amelia Island. I recommend the permanent occupation of Saint John's River as high as Jacksonville at least, and as much higher as possible. A small force can hold Jacksonville against anything but a regular siege. Five thousand men will be available for service in Florida, leaving in each of the other two districts the maximum force which I have mentioned above. I should deem 4,000 men ample in Florida. Of this I should keep 1,000 mounted and moving. Among the troops left behind are a battalion of the First New York Volunteers Engineers, eleven companies of the Third Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, twenty-six pieces of field artillery, of which fourteen are fully equipped and the others will be. There are plenty of guns in position in all the intrenchments and fortifications in the department. My own opinion is that 15,000 experienced troops would be sufficient to hold our positions on this coast. I leave more than that by over 3,000 men, because four of the regiments are new. Two of the regiments included in the order to move (viz, One hundred and fourth and Fifty-second Pennsylvania Volunteers) are left behind until they can be relieved by other troops or you are willing to spare them. They are part of Davis' brigade, the balance of which has gone. Colonel Davis himself I have placed in command of the District of Saint Helena Island, Hilton Head, and Fort Pulaski.