men is always necessary for vedettes and scouts, but a mounted force larger than is necessary for this purpose, but still too small to do effective fighting, had better be reduced to the effective limits for scouts, &c., and reliance for fighting be placed entirely upon the infantry. This is more especially necessary when, as at present, the orders are to stand strictly on the defensive. Besides the above, it is necessary to prepare to defend the inland passage from the Saint John's River to Fernandina in anticipation of the opening of that port.
With the occupation of Magnolia in anything like sufficient strength your force, after garrisoning the really necessary points, will not be sufficient for this new work. As to the interest you properly take in the prosperity of the people of Florida, I must say that, although one of the necessary things to be considered by a commanding officer, still it is not the most important, and must not, in fact, be allowed to take precedence of the military interests of your command. The estimation of the importance of considerations relating to the extent of country to be protected is really very much lessened by the fact that, after all the urgent appeals that have been made to them, only a very small number of the inhabitants of your district have come forward to take up arms and fight for us. Military reasons, therefore, should govern the disposition of troops.
With regard to what you say of your intention to be relieved from duty in the department, I must say that I should be sorry to have you do so. I highly appreciate and esteem your qualities as a soldier and a gentleman, and as an officer of lengthened and distinguished service. If, however, you really desire to serv in another part of the country, it will not be necessary to use outside influence; but if you address a letter to that effect to the General-in-Chief, and send it through this office, I shall be happy to forward it with an indorsement which I can truly make in testimony of the many excellent qualities possessed by you. Observing, however, from your letter that you found this desire upon your objection to the policy of my orders the responsibility for the effect of which you are not willing to bear, I propose at once to order General Scammon to relieve you, and to assign you to the command of the Northern District.
This change is rendered necessary by the state of General Scammon's health, with reference to which all the surgeons earnestly recommend a transfer to Florida, and the necessity of having an officer of experience and great military knowledge in command of the Northern District, which is really the most important in the department. At the time General Scammon arrived, I felt the necessity of calling from Florida to take that command, fearing that General Scammon's health would not be sufficient for the hard labor and exposure. Feeling, however, a great reluctance to take you from the command in Florida in which you took such interest, and as General Scammon was willing to undertake the trial, I ordered him to that command. Now that his health has proven inadequate to that exposure and labor, I am compelled to make this change.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,