The trace of the new work has been determined, and whatever it is, the exigencies of the service require that it be finished at once. The recommendations in the remarks concerning the reduction in height and thickness of all those positions looking northwest and north will hasten the constructions greatly, add to the security of the defenders, defilade from sea-fire, and partially from that from Long Island. No heavy fire can be expected from the northwest, and it certainly appears like a great waste of labor, not too plentiful at present, too build heavier protection against musketry and boat howitzers than the sea-front offers to heavy 15-inch and 200-pounder rifled projectiles.
The remarks with reference to the completion, repair, and protection of the detached two-gun batteries and Battery Beauregard are induced by a consideration of contingencies to be anticipated, and the present state of the command. The particular methods to be adopted could be matters of short consideration. The condition of the mortar batteries on Sullivan's Island is bad without exception, resulting from the giving way of the interior revetments, where any have been placed, from concussion. One reason why they have tumbled in, is from their faulty construction, and the custom which many engineers in this department have of erecting structures of earth or sods, as though they were of stone or brick, and allowing too little batter. This might be obviated to a considerable extent by a double sodding in horizontal layer s and pinning, but the structure would still be frail to withstand the shock a mortar, and the pins in case of impact of shot or shell cause almost as many splinters as a wooden revetment. To give security and strength to the interior revetment, I would respectfully recommend that they be made for all mortar batteries, in the front and both flanks of the platform, of palmetto logs to the height of 6 or 7 feet, with a batter of not more than five upon one, and leaving a berm of 1 foot, then to finish off the parapet with sods, at a slope of not less than 35 degrees from the perpendicular, to the height of 10 feet from the mortar platform. This would secure the work, afford a banquette, and expedite the finishing of the batteries, which may be our most efficient resistance against the fire from Morris Island. The palmetto logs in quantities sufficient to do the work can be obtained from the old outwork of Fort Moultrie, now useless, and from the trees on the island, of which there are from 60 to 100 of good dimensions immediately at hand. I have mentioned these matters of material engineering to Mr. White, and I respectfully ask that he may be ordered to adopt them, and finish up the works as speedily as may be, and without waste of labor.
In the early part of November, 1863, I received intelligence from the headquarters of the department that an attack by boats and otherwise was to be apprehended, and to meet the emergency made the directions and dispositions mentioned in a circular dated November 8, 1863,* which was transmitted to the headquarters of the department. That disposition afforded some security, and covered the points upon which an attack was to be apprehended, and allowed a small reserve. The available force at my disposal at that time was 5,882 present, including 950 heavy artillery, 183 light artillery, 204 cavalry, and 4,512 infantry. In the aggregate the effective total was 5,013, and I do not believe that in the condition of the works of
*See Vol. XXVIII, Part II, p. 495.