appeared to be the case, "reconnoitering the country." Having been detained as the regiment moved in the morning on professional duty, he missed his way in following, and thus met your pickets. With respect to the custom of liberating surgeons when captured, I have to say that it has been my custom while in command both in North Carolina and East Tennessee. Your action in the present case will determine whether the custom will be continued in this department.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
HDQRS. NORTHERN DISTRICT, DEPT. OF THE SOUTH, Folly Island, S. C., July 16, 1864.
Captain J. W. GRACE,
Ordnance Officer, Northern Dist., Dept. of the South:
CAPTAIN: I am instructed by the general commanding to inform you that the reasons why he considers navy howitzers as needed in this district are as follows:
We are obliged to defend positions on islands difficult of approach or approachable only over long dikes or by boat, and where it would not be wise to expose any heavy pieces of artillery. We may at any time find it necessary, as we have already done, to cross over and attack the enemy on similar islands, to which we have no means of approach except row-boats. The navy howitzers being capable of transportation in row-boats, and it being perfectly practicable where there are no horses to draw them by hand, the general considers them as a most useful piece of ordnance to have in this command.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
E. W. SCHAUFFLER,
Lieutenant and Aide-de-Camp.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH, Hilton Head, S. C., July 16, 1864.
Brigadier General W. BIRNEY,
Commanding District of Florida, Jacksonville, Fla.:
GENERAL: Your communication of the 12th instant has been received. I am instructed by the major-general commanding to inform you that the number of troops now in your command is considerably greater than that section of the department demands in a military point of view. If you cannot properly guard the Saint John's River you must prepare to make Saint Augustine your base, keeping Jacksonville and Picolata as advanced points of defense if practicable. In case of immediate danger of the Saint John's River being rendered impracticable for navigation by reason of the enemy gaining possession of points along the banks, or by reason of their planting a great number of torpedoes in the river, the communication from Jacksonville to Saint Augustine must be by a ferry across the river, which you must take pains to provide in season, and by land across the country.