have lost in the fall by reason of expiration of term of service. The loss of these two regiments, the loss of the Thirty-second U. S. Colored Troops, and the employment of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers for prisoners' guard will require considerable changes in my position, excludes all thoughts of even partial and occasional offensive movements, and precludes also the continuance of building new works, &c., as I have no soldiers left for fatigue duty.
In regard to the prisoners' camp north of Fort Strong, I consider it my duty to state that, in my opinion, the measure is dangerous. Fifty men I could easily guard, but 600 constitutes a force which, even without arms, may by accident prove disastrous when placed between forts and batteries which I cannot consider strictly secure against an assault. The enemy's pet project of a surprise and capture of Fort Strong and our front batteries would have more apparent promise of success, especially now that he has a force nearly double our own opposed to us. Nevertheless, I shall proceed with all the preparations for a prisoners' camp, hoping, however, that it may, like our late plan of exposing their officers to fire, result in an arrangement satisfactory to both parties.
I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General, Commanding District.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., August 19, 1864.
Rear-Admiral JOHN A. DAHLGREN,
Commanding South Atlantic Blockading Squadron:
SIR: I have the honor acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 16th instant, covering a copy of a letter from the honorable Secretary of the Navy to yourself, under date of July 20th ultimo. In this letter he does me the honor to state that the Navy Department would be pleased to have me address you a communication in reply to certain inquiries therein contained, which inquiries are as follows:
First. Can "any of the monitors attached to your fleet be withdrawn, having due regard to the exigencies of the public service within the limits of your command?"
Second. Are they (the monitors) "absolutely essential to the holding possession of the Southern coast?"
Third. Can "the blockade of Charleston be maintained without them?"
Fourth. Can "Morris Island be held by the military forces, protected by wooden vessels, in case all or part of the monitors shall be withdrawn?"
Permit me to express to the Navy Department, through yourself, my sense of the compliment which the honorable Secretary has thus been pleased to pay me. In all considerations of the amount of forces, whether military or naval, necessary to be kept upon this coast it, should be steadily held in view that the foothold already won must be retained. Charleston and Savannah should always be regarded as being sooner or later necessary objects of attack. Their value as bases from which to strike at the interior lines of the Confederacy