fore, until I am surely between Augusta and Charleston, it would be imprudent to let go this point. I have ordered General Hatch to move to a camp between this place (which is near Pocotaligo Depot) and Salkehatchie bridge, and to picket Coosawhatchie fort and the fort back at Pocotaligo bridge. The latter is the key point for defense, but for offense the line of the railroad is the proper one. I would, therefore, not reduce Hatch's force here till you have ascertained the effect on Charleston, by my appearance west of Branchville. All Salkehatchie is under water for a mile on either side of the regular bed, and its almost impossible to get to it. The bridges have been burned by the enemy, who seems to occupy the opposite bank, but his force, if amounting to anything, is kept well back. I could see a few men at the railroad bank, and what seemed a gun in embrasure, but it was not fired, although our men stood in tempting groups on the railroad bank, this side, in easy six-pounder range. We find cavalry to our front toward Barnwell, and hear of some infantry, but I suppose the enemy simply is watching me and keeps his main force where it can be thrown rapidly on exposed points. Your demonstration on Williston is right, but should not be more than a demonstration, that it a lodgment seemingly to cover the disembarkation of a large body. The admiral's feeling up the Edisto and Stono is well, but my movement to the rear of Charleston is the principal, and all others should be accessory-merely to take advantage of any let-go. Try and keep me well advised of Slocum's progress. He reports that Davis would move on the 25th, and he should be at Sister's Ferry to-day. I shall him to be felt for to-morrow.
W. T. SHERMAN,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
Hilton Head, S. C., January 28, 1865.
Major General W. T. SHERMAN,
Commanding Grand Army, Pocotaligo:
GENERAL: I send you the only two late papers brought by the Baltic, which arrived this a.m. Major Strong, whom I sent with a letter to Admiral Dahlgren, reports that the admiral has gone to the northward, probably to the Combahee or Edisto Rivers. He reports that the Dai Ching was sunk in the Combahee River on the 26th. She grounded in consequence of the very low water in the river caused by the strong westerly winds, and a rebel battery situated below the ferry riddled her with shot. She was finally abandoned and burned. The crew escaped across the land, and en route captured a schooner with seventy bales of cotton. Her captain says he has not been in Charleston for nearly one month, and knows Little of the military situation. The Thirty-second U. S. Colored Troops has landed at Edisto Island since the loss of the Dai Ching, which will induce the belief that a flank movements on the position at Combahee is designed, particularly as General Potter will push u to Jehossee Island and make a show of crossing. If you desire I will run up there and make a tremendous stir and show of intention to land and cut the railroad and retreat of the troops from the Combahee. I can take a few hundred men from here and a regiment or two from Savannah. I have sent 100 men to King's Bridge, Ogeechee River, from here, to get the machinery of a mill there. The steamer first sent without guard reported small bodies of Wheeler's cavalry in the vicinity.