he is constructing a railroad from Beaufort to Port Royal Ferry, and it is generally reported and believed at Hilton Head that active offensive operations will soon commence against this city and Savannah. If you could furnish troops to guard the large number of prisoners now in this city at some other point than this it would render available for defense the troops now guarding them, and would relieve me of a serious embarrassment.
Very respectfully, &c.,
HEADQUARTERS FIRST MILITARY DISTRICT,
Charleston, September 25, 1864.
General SAMUEL COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector General:
GENERAL: I have the honor to request a decision on a point which has caused some little difficultly in order to prevent a recurrence:
On the 17th instant Major-General Jones left Charleston for a temporary absence in Summerville. Soon after telegrams arrived at his headquarters informing of the necessity of re-enforcing Major Warley in command of the prisoner's camp at Florence. Major John F. Lay, assistant adjutant-general, called upon me with the information, and by my advice ordered certain troops to report to that officer. Other telegrams came soon after, and Major Lay caused an order to be sent to me signed by Captain Feilden, assistant adjutant-general, stating that the major-general commanding directed certain dispositions, of which I believed some to be injudicious and others impracticable. I caused such dispositions to be made as I thought would best meet the case with the means at my disposal, and told Captain Feilden not to send me orders in the name of the commanding general which were unauthorized. Other telegrams came from Major Warley, and Major Lay sent me another letter commencing in the same style. This was when the commanding general was absent, and there was no way of communicating with him to receive his instructions for such action as could be taken.
It is proper to remark that Major Lay had been reported to Major-General Jones once in writing and several times orally for taking unauthorized and irregular action as a staff officer. I also told Major Lay that he must not send me such unauthorized directions. Major-General Jones returned the next morning, and I reported orally to him what I had done, and the conduct of his staff officers. On the 18th, Major Lay addressed a communication complaining of my rebuke to General Jones, on which I placed a strong indorsement, objecting to being ordered by staff officers upon an unforeseen and unprovided-for contingency in the absence of the commanding general. This indorsement was referred to Major Lay, who rejoined, and I reindorsed, sustaining my objections. The major-general commanding has caused a reply to be sent to me, but I do not see the answer to a question which I wish to submit. I am fully aware of the custom of service by which every direction provided for by regulations or standing orders can be given by staff officers in the temporary absence of the commanding general, but I have never heard before that it was right for a staff officer to take original