by surprise and escalade by any force landing from boats. They are also in a most effective condition, with the exception of some guns which have burst and are not yet replaced, no new ones being here on hand. The importance of having these advanced batteries in a perfectly secure and unassailable condition was felt more decidedly from the knowledge that the enemy is constantly building bateaux and launches at Charleston, having already 125 completed, capable of carrying from twenty-five to sixty men each, several of them being filled with howitzers. Our picket stations on Long Island, Black Island, and Cole's Island are also strengthened by intrenchments, which are furnished with light field pieces. These field-works are likewise surrounded with palisades and other obstacles, and are judged to be safe against any sudden attack of the enemy.
In the other districts similar preparations have been made continuously, until I am now in a condition, in case of need, to draw from each district one or two regiments to resist an attack in any other portion of the department, or to constitute a small force to attack the enemy. An opportunity of this kind may shortly occur, if, as appears from the late rebel papers, General Sherman really be upon the march from Atlanta to Savannah or Charleston. If such prove to be the case, I shall consider it my duty to aid him in every way I can. Although I am ordered to stand strictly on the defensive, and have received on instructions or information from the commanding general relating to this probable event, yet I take it for granted that I am expected to act effectively under such an emergency, should it arise.
The health of the department continues good. The exchange of prisoners is progressing under the charge of Lieutenant-Colonel Mulford. I understand that all the rebels have been delivered and most of our men received; also, that the condition of the latter received is fully as good as that of the rebels delivered. Information received from deserters, refugees, and escaped officers and soldiers, represent that great dejection is felt at the result of the re-election of President Lincoln; that a sharp discussion is going on about arming negroes; that the yellow fever is abating in Charleston, and has not been an epidemic in Savannah, from which it has now disappeared; that a considerable number of Union prisoners have enlisted with the rebel army, being driven to this step by privations and suffering; that the most of these have been sent to join Pat. Cleburne's division, of Hood's army, but that 400 of them are in Georgia regiments posted on James Island; that our prisoners are suffering for clothes and food; that the Union officers at Columbia have insufficient food and no shelter, except bough houses constructed by themselves; and that extraordinary exertions are now being made to get the militia and reserves into the field to meet the present emergency. In consequence of the deficient rations given to our officers, I have reduced the rations of the rebel officers in my hands accordingly.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
MORRIS ISLAND, S. C., November 21, 1864.
Major General J. G. FOSTER,
Commanding Department of the South:
GENERAL: You were kind enough to ask me for my views relating to the cutting of the railroad between Savannah and Charleston. In