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[204] light artillery handled as skirmishers. The howitzers were always landed as quickly as the men, and were brought into action before the light pieces of the land service could be got ashore.

I regret very much that the reduced complements of the vessels prevent me from maintaining the force in constant organization. With three hundred more marines, and five hundred seamen, I could frequently operate to great advantage, at the present time, when the attention of the rebels is so engrossed by General Sherman.

It is said that they have a force at Hardeeville, the pickets of which were retained on the Union causeway until a few days since, when some of our troops crossed the river and pushed them back. Concurrently with this, I caused the Sonoma to anchor so as to sweep the ground in the direction of the causeway.

The transfer of the right wing (thirty thousand men) to Beaufort will so imperil the rebel force at Hardeeville that it will be cut off or dispersed, if not moved in season.

Meanwhile, I will send the Dai Ching to St. Helena to meet any want that may arise in that quarter, while the Mingoe and Pontiac will be ready to act from Broad River.

The general route of the army will be northward; but the exact direction must be decided more or less by circumstances which it may not be possible to foresee.

My cooperation will be confined to assistance in attacking Charleston, or in establishing communication at Georgetown, in case the army pushes on without attacking Charleston, and time alone will show which of these will eventuate.

The weather of the winter first, and the condition of the ground in spring, would permit little advantage to be derived from the presence of the army at Richmond until the middle of May. So that General Sherman has no reason to move in haste, but can choose such objects as he prefers, and take as much time as their attainment may demand.

The department will learn the objects in view of General Sherman more precisely, from a letter addressed by him to General Halleck, which he read to me a few days since.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

flag-steamer Philadelphia, Savannah River, Ga., Jan. 7, 1865.
Despatch No. 16.

Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: I inclose extract of a note to me from General Sherman, which will advise the Department of the latest information which I have in regard to General Sherman's movements.

The position which the army occupies, or is moving to occupy, is, two corps at Savannah, two at Port Royal Ferry, General Foster's forces (five thousand) at the Tullifinney, and a regiment at Boyd's Neck.

I presume the first point where the two wings from Savannah and Port Royal Ferry will meet will be at Branchville, and the march thence to Florence, and so on, following the railroad.

I have no expectations that an attack on Charleston is embraced in the plan, as General Sherman has not suggested any arrangements for a cooperation with the navy. At the same time, circumstances might determine the General to such an operation.

Whatever forces the rebels have been able to collect in this quarter are no doubt posted in the direction of Charleston, prepared to occupy the city or otherwise, according to its strength. It cannot be sufficient to stand right in the way of our army; but may operate on its flanks and rear, as the opportunity may offer.

It will always be convenient for General Sherman to attack Charleston until he passes the Santee; after that, the swampy land would interfere.

Charleston being left behind, there remains but a single occasion when the army may communicate with the squadron, that is, by the way of the Santee or Georgetown, and I shall hardly look for this except as an incident from the extension of the foragers on the right wing, as it would be very little further to communicate with the North-Atlantic Squadron at Wilmington, and convenient to the forward march of the army.

It is with great regret that the conclusion is forced on me that the work marked out here will not include Charleston.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Dahlgren, Rear-Admiral, Commanding S. A. B. Squadron.

headquarters military division of the Mississippi, in the field, Savannah, Jan. 7, 1865.
Admiral Dahlgren, Savannah River:
dear Admiral: The letter you send me is from Admiral Porter at Beaufort, N. C. I am not certain that there is a vessel in Port Royal from Admiral Porter, or I would write him. If there be one to return him, I beg you to send this, with a request that I be advised as early as possible as to the condition of the railroad from Beaufort, N. C., back to Newbern, and so on toward Goldsboro; also all maps and information of the country about Newbern; how many cars and locomotives are available to us on the road; whether there is good navigation from Beaufort, N. C., via Pamlico Sound, up Neuse River, etc.

I want Admiral Porter to know that I expect to be ready to move about the fifteenth; that I have one head of column across Savannah River at this point, will soon have another at Port Royal Ferry, and expect to make another crossing at Sister's Ferry. I still adhere to my plan, submitted to General Grant, and only await provisions and forage. . . . .

I am, with respect, etc.,

W. T. Sherman, Major-General.

flag-steamer Harvest Moon, Port Royal Harbor, Jan. 22, 1865.
Despatch No. 83.

Hon. Gideon Wells, Secretary of the Navy:

Sir: The Department is already advised by my previous letters, and no doubt more fully by

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