Again, on the 16th of the same month, I stated that "no permanent post must be established." Again, on the 19th, I wrote: "Be surer and not disseminate your force by dividing them among too many posts." On the 28th of August, in reply to your letters giving the particulars of the disaster at Gainesville, the letter states:
In regard to the establishment of new posts in your district the opinion of the commanding has been fully given in former letters to you. the major-general commanding defers to any difference of opinion with the commanding officer of the District of Florida, who must regard himself as responsible for any unfortunate loss arising from variation of orders from these headquarters.
In consequence of this last defeat, I now desire that Magnolia be evacuated as soon as the supplies and material be removed, and that a post be established on the west side of the cut running from the Saint John's River to Fernandina to guard that passage from any attempt of the enemy to close it. Captain Suter will be sent shortly to Florida to lay out a work at that place.
Cavalry raids in Florida so far have resulted in no benefit to the Government. In fact, they have only resulted in furnishing the rebels with fine arms and horses, and encouraging the men to plunder and pillage and causing them to be demoralized and inefficient. In view of this fact I have concluded to dismount the Seventy-fifth Ohio Regiment and return it to its original arm of the service as infantry. You will therefore send all the horses now used by the Seventy-fifth Ohio Regiment at once to Hilton Head, and also the surplus horses of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry. In your last tri-monthly of the 17th instant, you report the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry as having an aggregate of 112 enlisted men and 183 serviceable horses. Every available horse in now required here and in the Northern District. In the latter place battery horses have had to be used for transportation and are now rendered almost useless. As no more horses are promised from the North I must collect all that I can, to be used by those who understand the care of them. I cannot have any more captured by the enemy. I shall expect at least 175 or 200 horses from your district. The quartermaster will send transportation for them at once.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
Abstract from return of the Department of the South, Major General John G. Foster, U. S. Army, commanding, for October, 1864.
Present for duty Pieces of art.
Command. Offi Men. Aggreg Aggrega Heavy Field
cers ate te
General 49 80 131 139 --- ---
District 148 4,611 5,481 6,705 81 12
Beaufort 70 1,887 2,466 2,849 --- 7
Hilton Head 71 2,252 3,023 3,853 66 11
Florida (General 90 2,262 2,969 4,232 (a) (a)
Total 428 11,092 14,070 17,070 147 30
a Omitted from district return.