enemy approaches nearer, he will be certain to get knowledge of any movement toward evacuation. General Colquitt--Thought the enemy may take the position at his pleasure; may light up the work now with calcium lights; that the chances are diminishing daily for saving the garrison. But both thought with proper precautions the garrison might be successfully withdrawn. Colonel Harris--Did not believe the enemy would attempt assault, but would seek to take it by regular approaches on the salient, hence the garrison might be saved within two days of the time the enemy would be able to reach the ditch, or the completion of his approaches. Third--How long after the loss or evacuation of Wagner could Fort Gregg be held? General Hagood--If vigorously attacked, Battery Gregg would falls immediately after Wagner was carried. General Colquitt--Would evacuate both the same night. Colonel Harris--Believed if vigorously followed up, Battery Gregg must fall immediately after the enemy shall get possession of Wagner. In case the reduction of Wagner is delayed a week, we can, however, throw up intermediate works for infantry to check the advance of the enemy, and delay the fall of Battery Gregg, say, three days. Fourth--Can the heavy guns (two in Wagner and three in Gregg) in those two works be removed before their evacuation, without endangering the safety of the works and their garrison? Generals Hagood and Colquitt--Thought the columbiads could be removed without endangering the safety of the garrison, especially if precautions were taken to assure the men that these guns were removed because now useless, and to be replaced by others more effective in this stage of defence. The columbiads do not materially enhance the strength of the works at this time. Colonel Harris--Thought, if obstinate resistance is to be made, the guns should not be removed. Fifth--Can we take the offensive suddenly with a fair prospect of success, by throwing, during the night, three thousand men on the north end of Morris Island, making, in all, four thousand men available, bearing in mind that no reinforcements could be sent there until night, and perhaps none for several nights, according to the movements of the enemy's ironclads and the fire of his land batteries? Generals Hagood and Colquitt--Did not think the offensive can now be undertaken with our present means of transportation, and thought it would certainly fail if attempted. At half past 2 P. M., Brigadier-Generals Hagood and Colquitt were dismissed to their posts, and at three P. M. the conference was adjourned, to meet again at eight P. M. At eight P. M. the conference was resumed. Present--General G. T. Beauregard, Major-General J. F. Gilmer, Brigadier-General R. S. Ripley, Brigadier-General Thomas Jordan, and Lieutenant-Colonel D. B. Harris. A discussion then took place relative to the condition of the works — the probable plan of attack of the enemy, our means of defence, of transportation, and reasons for prolonging our foothold on Morris Island until ten o'clock P. M., the result of which was the determination by the commanding General, to hold Morris Island so long as communication with it could be maintained at night by means of row-boats, but for which purpose sailors, or men able to handle boats and oars with efficiency, were essential. It was agreed that the holding of Morris Island as long as possible was most important to the safety and free use of the harbor of Charleston, and our ability to keep up easy communication with the works on Sullivan's and James Islands, in view of which it was thought proper to renew applications by telegraph to the Secretaries of War and Naval Departments for some two hundred sailors or oarsmen, which was done at once. It was further decided that the five heavy guns on Morris Island, being necessary, morally and physically, for the defence of the position to the last extremity, and such being the difficulties, if not, indeed, the insurmountable obstacles in the way of their removal at this time, that no effort should be made to save them, and consequently that they should be ultimately destroyed, with as much of the works as practicable, when further defence was abandoned. The conference was then adjourned until an answer should be received to application for oarsmen.
Charleston, S. C., September 7, 1863.On the morning of the sixth instant, the despatches herewith, marked “A,” and subsequently a letter, marked “B,” from Colonel L. M. Keitt, commanding Confederate States forces on Morris Island, having been received, reporting that Battery Wagner was no longer tenable, and that the garrison must be sacrificed if the position was not evacuated that night, detailed orders were issued for the withdrawal of the garrison and destruction of the works and armament, contingent on the report of Lieutenant-Colonel Harris, Chief Engineer, who was directed to repair at once to Battery Wagner and inspect and report its condition for further defence. His report is appended, marked “C.” Meantime, Flag Officer Tucker was conferred with and called on for such means of assistance in the withdrawal of the garrison as were at his disposition, and every possible arrangement was made. The orders and an accompanying memorandum, marked “E” and “F,” were finally issued and reached Morris Island about six P. M. Orders several days previously, under instructions from these headquarters, had been issued by the district commander, regulating the manner of destroying the work and armament,