GENERAL BUTLER'S HEADQUARTERS, June 2, 1864-2.30 p. m. (Received 10.30 p. m.)
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
I forward, for the information of the War Department, an extract of a letter dated Charleston, May 6, 1864, taken from the dead body of Colonel O. M Dantzler, Twenty-second South Carolina Regiment, who was killed in an attack upon our lines this morning, and whose dead body is in our hands:
No news. All very quiet here. We are very short-handed now. The Twentieth was positively ordered, and was ready to go, but the order was countermanded, and it is now the only infantry left nearer Charleston than Savannah. If we are allowed to remain quiet, all this is well enough, but if we should be attacked by any of the approaches to the city, I fear the consequences. The contingency is too gloomy to thinks about.
B. F. BUTLER,
HEADQUARTERS, In the Field, June 2, 1864.
Rear-Admiral S. P. LEE,
Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron:
ADMIRAL: Your communication, dated June 2,* in regard to the obstructions, is received. The five vessels sent up were procured by my order for the purpose of being used as obstructions to the river, if in the judgment of the naval commander, they would add to the security of his fleet. I have no difficulty as to the point at which we desire to secure the river. It is the right of my line, near Curtis' house, at the ravine, but whether the river shall be secured by obstructions or by the vessels, or a disposition of your obstructions, or of the vessels of your navy, neither myself nor my engineers have any right to feel ourselves confident to give an opinion. The vessels are wholly at your service, but upon your judgment and not mine must rest their use.
In accordance with your request, as I informed your officer, I will visit you this afternoon and designate the spot we desire to be held, but whether by means of obstructions or by your ships, or by both combined, must be solely for the you to determine. While I know you would not undertake to give directions to my engineers as to the situation of our earth-works on land, so we ought not to presume to advise you as to your means of defending the water. I have not consulted, the War Department upon the question whether I should procure these obstructions. I suppose that was fairly within my discretion, and I venture respectfully to add that the question whether you should use them is entirely within yours. The Navy Department cannot know the urgencies as you know them, and I am certain must leave that question to the good judgment of the rear-admiral commanding the fleet.
I am aware of the delicacy naval gentleman feel in depending upon anything but their ships in a contest with the enemy, and if it was a contest with the enemy's ships alone, I certainly would not advise the obstructions, even at the great risk of losing the river; but in a contest against such unchristian modes of warfare as fire-
*See p. 44, Annual Report of the Secretary of the Navy, December 5, 1864.