Carolina vice Major-General Jones, who is absent sick and in wretched health. This is more important than the immediate removal of Ripley.
W. J. HARDEE,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF S. CAROLINA, GEORGIA, AND FLORIDA,
Charleston, S. C., November 15, 1864.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: In compliance with your instructions to report on the practicability of opening Wassaw Sound for the use of our blockade trade, contained in your letter of October 15, I respectfully submit the following statements and accompanying map* for your information:
Some 2 miles from the shore, off Wassaw Island, is a bar which admits the passage of vessels, drawing 12 feet water, at low tide into Wassaw Sound; after passing this bar two channels present themselves for navigation up Wassaw River to Savannah, one hugging the shore of Wassaw Island (which is the best), and one passing around the sand bar. From this last a branch channel turns up Tybee River toward Wilmington Narrows, all of which courses are shown in the chart. Tybee River, may also be entered by vessels 7 or 8 feet draught from a northern bar, practicable on high water only, by hugging Beach Hammock shore, the exact location of which cannot be obtained with sufficient accuracy to be shown on the map. To control these channels it is necessary to hold Wassaw Island, Beach hammock, and to control the channels through Romerly Marsh and of Lazaretto Creek. This can be done by establishing batteries on both ends of Wassaw Island, on the south end of Beach Hammock, on Decent Island, to control Lazaretto Creek, and on Green and Skidaway Islands, to control Romerly Marsh. With an addition of some 3,000 men and about 20 heavy guns I think this occupation could be effected, but I deem it unadvisable with the present force under my command.
It may be urged that this inlet can be cleared by torpedo-boats, but the blockading vessel lying off Cabbage Island has only to put out nettings, similar to those used by the enemy in this harbor, to protect herself from an attack. It is true that these nettings cannot be used while the ship is in motion or in rough water, but the river at this point is calm, and there is no necessity for motion, the river being sufficiently narrow to be completely closed by two or three vessels. If, however, we could hold possession of the chain of islands indicated, I think torpedo-boats could effectually keep clear the entrance to be sound.
Very respectfully, yours, &c.,
W. J. HARDEE.
NOVEMBER 24, 1864.
The force to hold this inlet cannot at present be spared.
J. A. S.,