thrown up by his regiment and the Twenty-third Indiana the first day General Mower was out, so Captain Henley will know just where we are, and the road to come on.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GILES A. SMITH,
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In the Field, Pocotaligo, January 29, 1865.
Major General J. G. FOSTER,
Commanding Department of the South:
GENERAL: I have your letter of yesterday. Tell Admiral Dahglren I regret the loss of the Dai Ching, but can quota Admiral Porter, who told me once that ships were made to be "lost. " Your movement by Edisto is good, but understand me as of opinion that if the enemy mans his works facing the sea you cannot gain them save at a disadvantage, but by demonstrating at points of land from which troops can move against the railroad by a rapid, quick march, you compel him to keep the entire railroad guarded from Charleston to Salkehatchie, but I don't care about the road being actually broken until the latter part of next week. If you know that the enemy falls behind the Edisto you should break the railroad anywhere this side of him and then you could reduce Hatch's command here to the number you calculated, viz, 1,000 men, but so long as McLaws (rebel) has the railroad by which he can handle 4,000 or 5,000 men rapidly it will be imprudent to leave Hatch too weak. There is no use in a force here at all, unless it is on the railroad. This point, Pocotaligo, is most salient, and therefore best, but if deemed unsafe at any time the fort at Coosawhatchie would fulfill the same conditions, and its river is deeper and better. I have no doubt a steam-boat could work up to the Coosawhatchie fort at high tide. Flats drawn by barges could certainly. I merely want a point of security here till I am surely beyond the Santee, and by a force here you better cover your island and the Savannah River than by any other disposition of your troops.
I expect from Tennessee a force of some 5,000 to 8,000 men belonging to the four corps with me here. Stop them at Hilton Head and use them unless they get there in time to reach me, which is very improbable. Out of them you can make up a good command to demonstrate on Charleston, Georgetown, and from Smithville, Cape Fear River as I progress, aiming to join their respective commands when we touch the sea-board. If I break the railroad to Augusta and Columbia, it will be well to strike that to Wilmington unless Wilmington in the meantime be taken by Terry. The easiest point to reach that railroad will be from Cape Fear River to the south and west of Wilmington.
You may make as much display on Edisto, and about Stono, next Wednesday and Thursday, as possible, and cause the troops at Morris Island to make a lodgment on James Island if possible. That is the vital part of Charleston.
I am, &c.,
W. T. SHERMAN,