at present of seven companies of cavalry, one battery, and a section of light artillery, and one company of heavy artillery, showing by the latest returns a total effective present of 558 men. Five hundred and fifty-eight men to defend a country 70 miles in extent, and that country abounding in agricultural resources, besides offering other temptations to the enemy! No argument is necessary to show that our tenure here is most uncertain and dependent entirely upon the forbearance of the foe and his ignorance as to our true condition. We are here on sufferance. Upon no one point could I concentrate in less than twenty-four hours, even under the most favorable circumstances, more than 300 men. The main position, the decisive point in the field, is a very defensible one. It is strong by nature, and the art of the engineer has been called into requisition to give to it still greater strength. But material obstacles are not of themselves sufficient.
I regret the necessity for this communication, but duty to the section of the country with the defense of which I am immediately intrusted, duty to our cause, and a proper, I trust, sense of my own responsibilities, all unite and conspire to forbid my withholding longer from those whose responsibilities are weightier than mine, though not so immediate, the statements which I have had the honor above to submit for their consideration.
In conclusion, it may be proper that I should disclaim any design to reflect upon the general commanding the military department of which this district is a portion. He has repeatedly acknowledged the importance of the interests here at stake and the necessity of affording them protection, but has declared his inability to do so without endangering other points which he deemed more vital.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. H. TRAPIER,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF S. CAROLINA, GEORGIA, AND FLORIDA,
Charleston, S. C., March 25, 1864.
Respectfully referred to the War Department, for its favorable consideration.
I fully concur in the remarks of General Trapier relative to the importance of this district and of its exposed condition, which will become still more so when Colonel White's cavalry shall have left for Virginia, as lately ordered.
G. T. BEAUREGARD,
Let the commanding general of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida be informed that this order cannot be changed, and that it is for him to dispose of the force left him so as to effectually guard his most important points.
23 R R-VOL XXXV, PT II