QUARTERMASTER-GENERAL'S OFFICE, Washington City, July 28, 1864.
Major General J. G. FOSTER,
Commanding Department of the South, Hilton Head, S. C.:
GENERAL: I have examined the report of Captain John H. Moore of the 16th instant, with your indorsement, asking for six light-draught steamers, and reporting the condition of the steamers on duty in the Department of the South. The Delaware sailed from New York on the 26th instant. The Rescue sails from Baltimore to-day. The Island City will be ready to sail on the 31st instant. The Planter and Philadelphia will be ready in a few days and will be sent to you. The Ben De Ford has been under repair. She is expected to be ready by August 6. She is a large vessel, burning much coal, and requires an expensive crew. She is a powerful and excellent steamer, capable of rendering most valuable service-one of the best in our service. I hesitate to send her back to the Department of the South, where I understand she has been idle for months with fires banked, burning out her boilers and doing nothing, kept in waiting for the movements of the commanding general. She is too expensive and valuable for a yacht. A much smaller and less costly steamer ought to serve for the purpose of transportation of a general commanding from place to place. The De Ford costs the United States, besides coal, &500 a day-$15,000 per month; at which rate each trip of a general officer costs the United States about $20,000.
I find by Captain Moore's report that there are twenty-eight steamers owned and chartered in the service of the United States in the Department of the South, and of these he reports only six available for outside work, and nearly all in bad condition. I trust that under your management of the affairs of the Department of the South no such discreditable condition of things will be allowed. If these vessels had been properly repaired, with the appliances so liberally provided by the quartermaster's department at Hilton Head, and when subject to injuries which the shops at that place at that place could not repair, had been sent promptly North, they could have been kept in serviceable condition and would have been promptly returned. This report shows a shiftless management which is most discreditable. I hope you will enforce a better rule.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General and Brevet Major-General.
HDQRS. NORTHERN DISTRICT, DEPT. OF THE SOUTH, Folly Island, S. C., July 28, 1864.
Captain W. L M. BURGER,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Dept. of the South:
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report that on the night of the 25th to the 26th instant, 1 sergeant and 3 privileges of the First South Carolina Artillery (Companies E and K) deserted from Fort Johnson and, crossing the marsh, were picked up by our boat infantry near Paine's Dock. In the way of general information they state that the news of General Grant's being killed was first given by a deserter from our army, and afterward claimed to be extracted from the Northern papers. One of them had heard that Grant's army had withdrawn from in front of Petersburg. From General Sherman the news of