HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., August 8, 1864.
Major General M. C. MEIGS,
Quartermaster-General, U. S. Army:
GENERAL: I have received your letter of the 28th ultimo. The Delaware has arrived. The Rescue, Island City, and Planter have not arrived yet. The Philadelphia is thought to be a mistake, as the only boat of that name belonging to this department is now here undergoing repairs.
With respect to the Ben De Ford, I can only say that we want such a vessel, as she would be the only really seaworthy vessel in rough weather suitable to carry freight to Morris and Folly Islands or to Florida, or to carry troops or dispatches to the North. As to what you say of her cost as a yacht for the commanding general, I beg leave to enter my protest in all respects as referring to me. I do not want, neither do I use, nor have I used, any vessel for my exclusive use. When I go to any place I take the first vessel that is ready. If she is without freight, I have all that is to go to the place put on board.
On my last trip to Morris Island I had 500 barrels of powder piled against my stateroom. I have, of course, no choice in the matter of vessels, and am only glad to get anything that will serve us. I am satisfied as long as the vessels perform their works and do not suffer shipwreck with a load of troops on board. I cannot, however, suffer it to be understood that I desire any vessel for my own use.
Five propellers, the Verona, Beaufort, Collins, James Green, and Trade Wind, leave here to-night, and to-morrow, with Brigadier-General Birney's brigade, for Fort Monroe. The Collins and James Green are then to proceed to New York for repairs. The Verona goes there on her regular trip from here. The Beaufort and Trade Wind are ordered back here. Two broken-down steamers, the Nantasket and Peconic, will be sent North for repairs as soon as fair weather sets in. The Alice Price is a wreck in the Saint John's River.
I am now commencing the building of two "assaulting arks" at the yard here. These are to carry 1,000 men each, and are to be propelled by oars.
Requisitions for 3/8-inch iron as musket-proof protection for the sides will be sent on, together with plans, as soon as they can be copied. I also propose to build a light-draught iron-clad, and plans are now preparing. This is absolutely required for a particular service where the navy iron-clads cannot go, even if they were willing, on account of their draught of water. I shall obtain the iron from the Lake City railroad, in Florida. I wish to know if you cannot have these rolled out into 2-inch plates for me, or exchange them for either 2 or 4 inch plates. Time is a consideration, and unless the exchange or the rolling out can be done without delay I will use the rails as they are.
I have the honor to be, generals, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
15 R R-VOL XXXV, PT II