Gordon, situated sixty miles this side of Macon, and that he is rapidly marching in this direction. There is a panic in Charleston and Savannah. The rebel officers with the flag-of-truce boat refuse to give us their late papers. General Hardee has left Charleston, with his staff, to meet Sherman. He is collecting every man to defend the State. He has withdrawn considerably from the force guarding the Savannah and Charleston Railroad. I do not consider that my orders to stand strictly on the defensive were intended to prevent my taking advantage of such a favorable opportunity, and I shall therefore scrape together a small force of 3,000 men and attack and capture, if possible, some point on the railroad. Beyond this, if General Sherman really comes across, I shall consider it my duty to aid him to the utmost, and to obey his orders. The Weather is now so cold as to remove all apprehension of yellow fever, which must by this time have disappeared from Charleston.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. G. FOSTER,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., November 22, 1864.
Brigadier General JOHN P. HATCH,
Commanding Northern District, Morris Island, S. C.:
GENERAL: I have received your letter of the 20th instant, and fully concur with you in your views as to the point of attack. I write now to inform you that the time I shall require you, with the regiments you can spare, to leave Morris and Folly Islands, will be on the night of the 27th instant. I appoint the night of the 27th as I desire the movement to be entirely concealed from the enemy, which cannot be effected except under cover of darkness. As I mentioned before, I shall require three regiments. I would suggest that you select the three most available. You must endeavor, when there is a choice, to take the best and strongest regiments. It will not be necessary to disturb the camps; they can be left as they are. All the forts and batteries should be pretty well manned, and perhaps it would be better to move the most of the remaining men to the batteries, leaving only a few to guard the camps. It is judged that the regiments that remain, together with the convalescents and others, will be sufficient to guard the place. The pickets might remain undisturbed. Bring all the mounted force you possibly can; in addition, bring four pieces of a battery, provided that number can be properly armed, manned, and horsed. Five days' cooked rations will be brought with them. The rations of coffee, sugar, and salt must be put up in separate bags, which will have to be prepared for the purpose, and carried so as neither to be dissolved nor mixed with other provisions. Each man will carry his blanket, overcoat, rubber blanket or shelter-tent, and one extra pair of good socks. All the infantry must wear shoes. One hundred extra rounds of ammunition per man will be brought in boxes; twenty rounds to be distributed just previous to landing. What steamers can be spared for transportation will be sent by the 24th. Although I shall be near, and endeavor to aid you as much as possible, I shall not be able to go very far into the country. You, therefore, will have to command the force, which will consist of a small division, composed of two brigades, as follows: First Brigade, regiments from Morris Island; Second Brigade, under