Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

City Point, August 9, 1864Richmond, December 16, 1864.

Captain: I have the honor to report that in obedience, to your order, and with the means and equipment furnished me by you, I left this city 26th of July last, for the line of the James River, to operate with the Horological torpedo against the enemy’s vessels navigating that river. I had with me Mr. K. K. Hillard, who was well acquainted with the localities, and whose services I engaged for the expedition. On arriving in Isle of Wight County, on the 2d of August, we learned of immense supplies of stores being landed at City Point, and for the purpose, by stratagem, of introducing our machine upon the vessels there discharging stores, started for that point. We reached there before daybreak on the 9th of August last, with a small amount of provisions, having traveled mostly by night and crawled upon our knees to pass the east picket-line. Requesting my companion to remain behind about half a mile I approached cautiously the wharf, with my machine and powder covered by a small box. Finding the captain had come ashore from a barge then at the wharf, I seized the occasion to hurry forward with my box. Being halted by one of the wharf sentinels I succeeded in passing him by representing that the captain had ordered me to convey the box on board. Hailing a man from the barge I put the machine in motion and gave it in his charge. He carried it aboard. The magazine contained about twelve pounds of powder. Rejoining my companion, we retired to a safe distance to witness the effect of our effort. In about an hour the explosion occurred. Its effect was communicated to another barge beyond the one operated upon and also to a large wharf building containing their stores (enemy’s), which was totally destroyed. The scene was terrific, and the effect deafened my companion to an extent from which he has not recovered. My own person was severely shocked, but I am thankful to Providence that we have both escaped without lasting injury. We obtained and refer you to the inclosed slips* from the enemy’s newspapers, which afford their testimony of the terrible effects of this blow. The enemy estimates the loss of life at 58 killed and 126 wounded, but we have reason to believe it greatly exceeded that. The pecuniary damage we heard estimated at $4,000,000, but, of course, we can give you no account of the extent of it exactly.

I may be permitted, captain, here to remark that in the enemy’s statement a party of ladies, it seems, were killed by this explosion. It is saddening to me to realize the fact that the terrible effects of war induce such consequence; but when I remember the ordeal to which our own women have been subjected, and the barbarities of the enemy’s crusade against us and them, my feelings are relieved by the reflection that while this catastrophe was not intended by us, it amounts only, in the providence of God, to just retaliation.

This being accomplished, we returned to the objects of our original expedition. We learned that a vessel (the Jane Duffield) was in Warwick River, and with the assistance of Acting Master W. H. Hinds, of the C. S. Navy, joined a volunteer party to capture her. She was boarded on the 17th of September last, and taken without resistance. We did not destroy her, because of the effect it might have had on the neighboring citizens and our own further operations. At the instance of the captain she was bonded, he offering as a hostage, in the nature of security to the bond, one of his crew, who is now held as a prisoner of war on this condition in this city.

In the meanwhile we operated on the James as the weather and moon co-operated, but without other success than the fear with which the enemy advanced, and the consequent retarding of his movements on the river. We neared success on several occasions. Finding our plan of operations discovered by the enemy, and our persons made known and pursued by troops landed from their boats at Smithfield, we deemed it best to suspend operations in that quarter and return to report to you officially our labors. Your orders were to remain in the enemy’s lines as long as we could do so; but I trust this conduct will meet your approval. The material unused has been safely concealed.

I have thus, captain, presented you in detail the operations conducted under your orders and the auspices of your company, and await further orders.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John Maxwell.

Capt. Z. McDaniel.

* Not found.


(First indorsement.]

December 17, 1804.

Respectfully forwarded to Brigadier-General Rains.

Z. McDANIEL, Captain Company A, Secret Service.

[Second indorsement. ]

Hon. Secretary Of War,


Respectfully forwarded, with remark that John Maxwell and R. K. Dillard were sent by Captain McDaniel into the enemy’s lines by my authority for some such purpose, and the supposition was strong, as soon as the tremendous explosion occurred at City Point on the 9th of August last, that it was done through their agency, but of course no report could be made until the parties returned, which they did on Wednesday last, and gave an account of their proceedings. This succinct narrative is but an epitome of their operations, which necessarily implies secrecy for the advantage of this kind of service as well as their own preservation. John Maxwell is a bold operator and well calculated for such exploits, and also his coadjutor, R. K. Dillard.


Brigadier- General, Superintendent.

MARCH 28, 1863.—Guerrilla attack on Steamer Sam. Gaty.
Report of Maj. Gen. Samuel R. Curtis, U. S. Army.

Saint Louis, Mo., April 3, 1863—8 p. m.

A band of guerrillas took steamer Sam. Gaty, and murdered several soldiers and 9 contrabands. General Loan telegraphs that Colonel King, in pursuit, had two fights yesterday with guerrillas, totally routing them, mortally wounding their chief.

SAML. R. CURTIS, Major-General.

Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.

RINALDO, Provincetown Harbor, January 1, 1862.

[Lord LYONS, Washington.]

MY LORD: I have the honor to inform your lordship that I left New York on the 30th ultimo and arrived at Provincetown early this morning, and waited until evening when Messrs. Mason and Slidell and companions came on board from an American tug-boat from Boston.

According to your lordship’s instructions I received them without form or ceremony.

Although the barometer is falling considerably I intend putting to sea at once and making the best of my way to Halifax.

I have, &c.,


P. S.–The gentlemen remarked that their only wish was to proceed to Europe.

W. H.

Near Pensacola, Fla., August 8, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War:

DEAR SIR: Perhaps you would like to hear from this place, once of so much importance. The departure of General W. H. T. Walker and the sickness of Colonel Clayton have for a time placed me in command of the Second Brigade here. I have the First Alabama Regiment, the Seventh Alabama, and a Georgia battalion, with two independent companies, in all about two thousand three hundred men, with Fort Barrancas and three-fourths of all the batteries at this place. If there could be a fight I would have a fair chance for a place in it of some importance, but we look for nothing of the kind now. I believe that with three thousand additional troops Pickens can be easily taken, certainly with five thousand. We have much sickness. In my eight infantry companies there are two hundred on sick-list. In First Regiment three hundred and twenty-four out of nine hundred and seventeen are sick. Not so many in the Georgia battalion. Our troops are dispirited by inaction, desponding at the thought that they will never have a fight. I have had several conversations with the general, and find that he is regretting that no opportunity could be afforded him on the field of Manassas to show his ability to control and fight an army. From what I have seen of him I have no doubt that his selection for this command has been a most judicious one. The army has throughout great confidence in him.

I find myself a good deal abused. I have established and maintained so far order and discipline in my regiment. It is difficult to bring volunteers down to a soldier’s life, but we cannot succeed without it. If all the regiments at Manassas had been as well drilled as mine we would not have lost so many men. I refer to General W. H. T. Walker, who will be in Richmond, as to my regiment and how we are doing.

Well, after all this I wish to say that if Virginia is to be the field of fight, that Pensacola, is a fine place for a school of instruction, and the Seventh Regiment wants to graduate in about fifteen days or thereabouts, so as to make room for some green squad. We are only in for twelve months, and I am perfectly willing to stay here that long, but I want a place for the war. Alabama is offering many troops. I believe that I can take charge of a regiment and put it in fighting order in two months or less. If you transfer me to a regiment for the war, Colonel Coltart will have command here. He is a fine officer, and just now far more popular than I am in the regiment. If, then, Alabama should offer a number of companies sufficient to make a regiment, for which no commander has been selected, I ask for the post, to be transferred, and I refer to all the officers of this Army, regulars and volunteers, as to qualifications in drill and discipline.

I rejoice over Manassas for many reasons, and over the valor of the Fourth Regiment our boys have shouted time and again. I trust that the Government will find all their efforts crowned with success, and when we shall have soundly whipped the scoundrels the just need of praise will certainly be given to the man who in his office is laboring day and night to maintain and care for our vast Army. May Heaven bless you and strengthen you for your great labors.

Truly, your friend,

S. A. M. WOOD.

Washington, May 20, 1861.

In reference to the national reputation of Miss Dix as connected with objects of philanthropy and usefulness, she is authorized to exercise a general supervision of the assignment of nurses to the hospitals, general and regimental, occupied by the troops at Washington and its vicinity, subject to the advisement and control of the Surgeon-General’s Office in matters of detail, numbers, &c.: and excepting such hospitals as already have a permanent organization of nurses. This is respectfully recommended to all commanding officers and enjoined on all medical officers of the regular and volunteer forces to aid her in her benevolent views.


Acting Surgeon-General.


Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND,
Assistant Adjutant-General:

COLONEL: Since my letter of yesterday I have dispatches from Major French, commanding Key West, and among other reports that he has suspended the writ of habeas corpus at Key West. When I was there on my way to this place I left in the hands of Major French a proclamation, to be published when a contingency requiring it should arise. He considers that it has done so. I inclose his letter (A) to me and my answer (B).

The Water Witch, which was dispatched to Havana for sand bags, has returned with some, with which we can finish our defenses.

I was misinformed as to there being 10-inch sea-coast mortars at Tortugas. There are none there or at Key West.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major, Second Artillery, Colonel, Commanding.

[Inclosure A.]

8, 1861.

Assistant Adjutant-General, Hdqrs. Department Florida:

CAPTAIN: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 2d instant this 10 a.m. There have been no secession flags flying since my peremptory order on the subject. The military organization called the “Island Guards” has disbanded, in consequence of my directing the mayor to furnish me with the muster roll, which he did. The newspaper called the “Key of the Gulf” I suppressed, because it was uttering treasonable and threatening language against the judiciary and other United States officers. I directed the mayor to inform the editor (a Mr. Ward) that he was under military surveillance, and that the fact of his not being in the cells of this fort for treason was simply a matter as to expediency and proper point of time. To enable me to meet such cases with promptitude, I published on the 6th instant Colonel Brown’s proclamation suspending the writ of habeas corpus. At this date I have not deemed it advisable to follow it with any restrictions upon the municipal authorities or the citizens of the town. As cases have arisen they were at once met, and I will continue this gradual enforcement of the power of the U. S. Government, thus allowing loyal citizens aid and support in their duties and pursuits.

I have the gratification to know that my course has the approval of the judicial officers here, and has given universal satisfaction to the Union-loving citizens, besides others whose interests are compromised by the acts of secessionists.

There will be no difficulty hereafter in procuring coal or other ships’ requirements. All will be supplied upon the usual terms.

The U. S. consul, Mr. Shufeldt, at Havana writes to me that he has funds for the purchase of coal, but that none is at present to be had there. Should any arrive later he will purchase and ship it to this place.

Judge Marvin has not resigned. The district attorney, marshal, and clerk are performing all duties which do not require a jury. There is no grand jury, therefore no presentments. In consequence, it has devolved upon me to use my own judgment in the summary processes I have previously mentioned, and afterwards received the approval and support of Judge Marvin and Mr. Boynton, district attorney.

Lieutenant Commanding Craven, U. S. Navy, has put the harbor under blockade. I inclose a copy of his order. (Not republished)

No State court has been held here. I doubt whether it will be. The instructions of the colonel commanding will be strictly observed.

The inclosed number of the New Orleans Picayune (May 3), (not republished) sent to me by the consul at Havana, shows that no troops can be relied on as coming from Indianola, Tex. This unparalleled act of treachery, violating the stipulations made by their own convention to assist the troops to evacuate the territory, gives no hope from that quarter. The ordnance and stores required, I regret, are not here, except a few 10-inch shells. I have directed one hundred with sabots and straps to be sent. This fort is daily growing in strength. The barbette guns on the face fronting the town are all in position. I am proud to say that the officers and men are in a high state of discipline and subordination, and, although another soldier might never come, I doubt whether even a lodgment could be made on the island.

We have had a fine rain, replenishing the tanks. Nearly three months’ water is on hand, independent of the wells at the head of the bridge. The health of the command is very good.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

Brevet Major, Commanding.

[Inclosure B.]

Fort Pickens, May 13, 1861.

Bvt. Maj. W. H. FRENCH,
Commanding Fort Taylor, Key West:

MAJOR: The colonel commanding entirely disapproves your action in sending Ordnance Sergeant Flynn away from your post without his authority. The fact that he was not ordered to Washington, nor to any other place except your post, was proof in itself that it was neither the colonel’s intention nor desire that he should go anywhere else, because if so the order would have been issued from these headquarters. The colonel considers that in this case you have not only exceeded the limits of your authority, but that you have no excuse for so doing, as there was both time and opportunity for communicating with him. The matter did not demand immediate attention and no interest of the service was in the slightest degree injured by delay.

The colonel commanding directs that hereafter you will in no case, except when the necessities of the service can be shown to be absolutely  imperative, assume the responsibility of ordering men under your command out of the department without his authority.

As the colonel has only your own letters and not the replies nor the special reasons for your action, he cannot judge of the immediate necessity for suspending the writ of habeas corpus, but having the approval of Judge Marvin and of the district attorney, it has his. He desires that you send here all the papers in the case.

The island being under martial law, all its citizens must acknowledge allegiance to the Government. While the colonel wishes you to be perfectly firm and decided in upholding the laws and suppressing rebellion, he desires that it may be done in a spirit of kindness and conciliation, so that if possible they may be led from error rather than be driven into it by an undue exercise of authority. If, however, any prove incorrigible and refuse allegiance to the Government, they must be sent from the island immediately, without respect of persons.

The colonel does not approve of any removal of troops to Tampa or elsewhere from Key West, nor will any be made unless in case of extreme urgency. Key West is of paramount importance, and must not be weakened for any contingent service; neither does he think it at all expedient for the Crusader to leave Key West for any such purpose. He intends to address Captain Adams on the subject.

The colonel is much gratified to learn the falsity of the report that a secession flag was permitted to fly from the court-house. He commends your zeal, and is pleased to learn of the soundness of your officers.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Fort Pickens, Pensacola, May 13, 1861.

Lieut. Col. E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General:

COLONEL: Since my last nothing of interest has occurred, and no demonstration of any kind been made by the enemy. He continues strengthening his batteries, but I cannot perceive that he has erected any new ones. The Florida and Alabama Railroad has been finished, and he has received some large guns and mortars ; but, so far as I can discover, he is rather making defensive than offensive preparations. My command has been unceasingly employed in unloading ships, storing provisions and stores, and in putting up works for the protection of the men and guns in the fort, and for bombarding the enemy without. The most important would ere this have been finished but for the want of sand bags, which is so important that I had to send an officer to Havana to purchase them or gunny-bags. Major Tower states that he made a requisition for 100,000, and sent it to Washington by Lieutenant Gilman in March, and no notice has yet been taken of it, although two steamers have since then arrived, by one of which (the Philadelphia) they might have been sent.

Having understood that there were three sea-coast 10-inch mortars at Tortugas, I have ordered two of them here. I am also in daily expectation of the schooner Perrin, which sailed from New York about the 17th of April. When she arrives we shall have, it is hoped, every article necessary for offensive operations, of many of the most essential of which we are now sadly deficient.

Great abuse of the flag of truce having in two or three instances occurred, I wrote General Bragg the letter marked A, and sent it by Captain Hartsuff, assistant adjutant-general. In the afternoon of the same day his aid, Captain Wood, accompanied by Captain Stevens, of the Engineers, came to the wharf, where I met them. He brought me a letter from General Bragg, addressed to me commanding Fort Pickens. I told Captain Wood that I was by order of my Government in command of the Department of Florida; as such I had addressed General Bragg, and that I could receive no official communication that did not recognize me as such. He carried back the letter, and I have since heard nothing on the subject. But no objectionable movements have since taken place. On the 7th two steamers appeared off the bar. They were brought to by the Powhatan and Brooklyn, and afterwards permitted by Captain Adams to return to Mobile. I inclose letters B, C, and D on this subject.

My sick-list is increasing, attributable, I think, to hard labor in a hot sun. None of the cases are very serious. I have lost two by death and two by desertion. I earnestly renew my application for a fast-sailing steamer or steam-tug of light draught of water. Two would be better than one. Their necessity can hardly be overestimated.

Since my last the mortar battery north of the fort has been finished and the mortars put in it, and I shall in a day or two have one for four 8-inch howitzers completed near the same place. I propose also commencing this week near the sea-beach, and to the east of these batteries and about six hundred yards from them, a battery for three 10-inch columbiads, and afterwards another for the same number of columbiads in a place yet to be selected. These finished, the guns and shells received, I hope to be able to give a good account of my command.

Company G, First Artillery (the old company), is so tainted with scurvy as to be of little or no service to me, and the disease increasing daily, I have on the certificate and recommendation of the senior assistant surgeon ordered them to Fort Hamilton (vide letter E). I have been induced to this by the long and distinguished services of this company at this place, by the report of the surgeon that a Northern climate was necessary to the recovery of their health, by the conviction that they would be of but little service to me, and by the fact that they can be sent to the North without any expense to the Government. I trust that my action will meet the approval of the General-in-Chief. I have attached the newly-joined men to Company A, First Artillery. I have directed Major French to send me by the first opportunity one of the companies now at Key West. I am amply strong to hold this fort against any force the enemy can bring against it, but not to prevent a lodgment on the island by a large force, which they can in one night throw on it, and I have therefore reluctantly ordered a company from Key West, where I think they are not strong enough; but this place is of the most pressing importance at present.

I have not received any orders or official communications, but see by the papers that affairs have materially changed since I received my instructions to act only on the defensive. Is it the intention of the Government that the same orders should govern me, or may I, if occasion offer, take the offensive?

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major, Second Artillery, Colonel Commanding.

[Inclosure A.]

Fort Pickens, May 6, 1861.

Brig. Gen. BRAXTON BRAGG, Commanding Troops in Florida:

SIR: I respectfully call your attention to what I conceive an abuse of the rights and privileges of a flag of truce. This morning a steamer came to the wharf of this post with a flag, in which, besides the bearer, were a number of officers of your command and some citizens with spyglasses, the professed object of the flag being to bring a private letter from a lady to a subaltern officer of my command.

A steamer a few days since, also with officers of your command on board, visited one of the ships off this post, and in going and returning, instead of keeping in a direct line, coasted along the shore on both sides as close to this fort as she with safety could.

These both are, in my judgment, gross abuses of the flag, and I trust you will cause them to be immediately corrected. I observe and cause to be observed by my command strictly the laws of war in such cases, and expect a like observance on your part.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding.

[Inclosure B.]

Fort Pickens, May 8, 1861.

Capt. H. A. ADAMS, Commanding Naval Forces off Pensacola:

CAPTAIN: I deem it my duty to call your attention to the importance to the defense of this fort of excluding all steamers from the harbor. Their introduction would be of essential injury to us and benefit to the enemy, so that every possible precaution should, I think, be used to prevent it. I think that under no circumstances should a steamer or a vessel loaded with forage or provisions or articles contraband of war be permitted to enter. All those articles are for the consumption of the army of the enemy, and we, by permitting their introduction, are really feeding our enemies, and giving them the means of assailing us. We have information, which though not official, is authentic, that our steamers have been seized and appropriated by the enemy; that he has issued letters of marque, and is fitting out privateers, and that our officers have been taken prisoners, our property stolen, and that one of your own officers is now a prisoner in his hands. Under these circumstances, should not effective measures be taken to stop all vessels? I certainly think so. Permit me to suggest that the passage at the north of the island and the landing of the Perdido should be strictly watched, and that every possible exertion should be used to prevent the introduction of supplies of any and every kind.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding.

[Inclosure C.]

Off Pensacola, May 8, 1861.

Col. HARVEY BROWN, U. S. Army, Fort Pickens:

COLONEL: I have given orders to the guard-vessels to allow no provisions to enter Pensacola Harbor. In the absence of all instructions with regard to the blockade, I do not know how to proceed towards foreign ships, which by the laws and customs of nations are usually allowed a certain time to come and go after the declaration of a blockade, nor towards those coasting vessels which exhibit a license from the U. S. Government. My doubts on this subject prevented me from making prizes of the two steamers detained last night, which had cargoes of provisions consigned to Judah & Le Baron. I have sent them back to Mobile. The President’s proclamation of blockade is dated April 19, and it is more than time some specific directions about it should have reached me here. Should I hear of any privateers, man-of-war, or letter of marque being at sea, under the secession flag, I intend to commence making captures immediately. But I shall be greatly embarrassed what to do with them, as I have no officers to put on board and carry them to a port of the United States for adjudication. Has any progress been made in the preparation of a battery to receive the Brooklyn’s 9-inch guns, if it should be thought advisable to land them? I am afraid the work of discharging the Philadelphia will go on but slowly, as the large boats of the Powhatan have been so much injured as to require extensive repairs, and those of the Brooklyn will be employed for a few days in ballasting the Supply.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain, Senior Officer Present.

[Inclosure D.]

Fort Pickens, May 8, 1861.

Capt. H. A. ADAMS, Commanding Naval Forces off Pensacola.:

CAPTAIN: I wrote you this morning on the subject of allowing provisions to enter Pensacola Harbor, and am gratified that you have so far anticipated my wishes. I am not prepared to express a decided opinion as to the foreign vessels, but as the port has not been actually declared in a state of blockade I should suppose it to be expedient to let them pass unless they actually have on board articles contraband of war. I am, however, decidedly of opinion that no United States vessel, containing any article which will nourish or assist the enemy, should be permitted to enter, and most certainly no one, either American or secession, from a rebel State. I regret that you did not feel it to be your duty to detain the two steamers, they being in my opinion lawful prizes.

I have done nothing in relation to the batteries for the guns of the Brooklyn because I distinctly understood you to say that you could not possibly spare any guns from her. I may also say that other and more pressing work would have prevented my doing it, but that I will have an engineer detailed to lay out and superintend such a work whenever you may wish to commence it, presuming, as I do, that your officers will wish the whole to be a Navy work.

Is not the unloading of the Philadelphia and provisioning and supplying this work of very paramount importance to ballasting the Supply? I think that now, while the sea is smooth and the enemy quiet, nothing should take the boats off, and I most respectfully urge that the ballasting the Supply may be deferred until after the steamer is unloaded.

I am much obliged for the papers.

I am, captain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding.

[ Inclosure E. ]

FORT PICKENS, FLA., May 9, 1861.

Capt. GEORGE L. HARTSUFF, Assistant Adjutant-General:

SIR: I have the honor of addressing you for the purpose of calling the attention of the colonel in command of the department to the condition of the men of Company G, First Artillery, stationed at this post. Said company has been for the last three years stationed in this vicinity, and for the last four months confined to the limits of this post. During the latter period it has been almost altogether deprived of fruits and vegetables, and during the whole of the three years but very scantily supplied therewith. Whilst occupying this fort the men and officers of the company have been taxed to their utmost capacity by physical labor and incessant watching night and day against attacks from the enemy. A number of cases of scurvy have already appeared among the men, some of them of considerable severity, and there is great reason to fear the general prevalence of the disease among them. The approach of the hot season will tend to aggravate the disease. The supplies of anti-scorbutics in the commissary stores I trust will be sufficient to prevent the appearance of the disease among the men lately arrived from the North, but I do not believe in their efficacy to relieve the cases which have already appeared or to prevent the recurrence of new cases among the men of Company G, First Artillery. Were it in your power to do so, I  would suggest the advisability of ordering to the North the old soldiers of the company; but if it be not in the limits of your authority to do so, I respectfully recommend that that portion of the company which has been on duty here so long be ordered to Key West, in order that the men may avail themselves of the tropical fruits and vegetables to be procured at that place, and for the benefit otherwise to be derived from change of air.

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

Assistant Surgeon.

Near Pensacola., Fla., May 6, 1861.

Hon. L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War, Montgomery:

From the tenor of my orders and instructions there has existed no doubt in my mind that the Department desired me first to secure the defense of my position here, and then the reduction of Fort Pickens, if practicable. No suggestion has been regarded as an order to proceed in any manner contrary to my own conviction, and no step has been taken which my own judgment has not approved; but I have felt it a duty to lay before you the means and sacrifices necessary to accomplish the object.

The change which has been made in my proposed plan of operations is the result of unavoidable delay, by which the enemy has been enabled to frustrate my first intentions. Fort Pickens is now more than twice as strong as it was three weeks ago, and the approaches to it will be made more and more difficult every day. They are now extending their operations on the island of Santa Rosa, and every hour will add seriously to the difficulties to be overcome. The importance of rapid movement on our part is very apparent if we are to proceed to the reduction of Fort Pickens, but it would be very bad policy to move until we are prepared to succeed. My plan for a lodgment on the island is arranged, and will be executed as soon as the means are available. In the present state of that work, with a garrison fully competent for its defense, and a support at all times ready at hand in the fleet, its reduction will cost us many lives, much time and labor, and a very large expenditure of money. Whether the end will justify the means the Department must decide.

My works on this side, both for attack and defense, are nearly completed, and preparations are going on for the island movement, but we are still deficient in many essentials. Five thousand sets of infantry accouterments are necessary for the preservation of our ammunition. It is now carried by the men in their pockets, and one day’s hard service would destroy it all. A supply of musket cartridges is also a first necessity. Having yet had no response to my requisition of last March, I shall send an, officer to Louisiana to see if some can be had at Baton Rouge. The present supply here would last me in an engagement about thirty minutes. Our best defense against the fleet–shells–cannot be used for want of fuses. Not one has yet reached me. These items are not mentioned  by way of complaint, for I know full well the difficulties and embarrassments which surround the Department, but simply to show how utterly impossible it is to check the enemy in his operations.

Night before last we succeeded in placing some serious obstructions in the channel between Forts Pickens and McRee, which will intimidate the fleet and seriously retard any movement to enter the harbor. It might be much more effectually blocked, but at a heavy expense for the necessary vessels. The entrance, however, of steamers would entirely frustrate our movement on the island, if it did not result in a capture of our force.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Fort Taylor, May
5, 1861.

Col. L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army:

COLONEL: The Illinois, from Fort Pickens, is in coaling, and knowing the anxiety of the Government with respect to the insulated forts, Taylor and Jefferson, I communicate direct. This key is in an excellent state for defense. The few suggestions given by me to Captain Meigs are all that will be required until winter. The more men the more disease. I have used my general authority to mount a section of Light Company K, and expect acclimated horses from the Havana in a few days, cheap and hardy. With these the island can be patrolled, vedettes kept up, and light guns moved rapidly.

The sentiment on the key is strictly selfish. The Union man to-day is the disunionist of the morrow. My effort has been to make it the interest of the citizens to be loyal, to encourage the Union men, and to lift up the faint-hearted. The judiciary (Federal) have had but little to act upon. I call upon them officially, indirectly. Brought up and resident with the citizens, it might at this time compromise. I have made myself acquainted with the respectable inhabitants under the same rules and formalities which exist elsewhere. The effect has been to open the trial sooner than might have been anticipated. Everything which should have been for sale, after a refusal, when Captain Meigs passed by on the Atlantic North, is now given–coal, water, wharfage. I am opening propositions through Colonel Patterson, naval officer, to buy out for the Government at reduced rates water lines, &c. I have asked from the mayor of Key West lists of the inhabitants, extra mouths, &c., which will have to be fed by the United States. Extraneous people will have to leave. Now there are not ten barrels of flour for sale on the island. Military organizations have been directed to make to me (ex officio) their rolls. No more troops are needed; water is scarce, not doubtful, and the command is equal to every occasion. My position has required me to take responsibility. This I never shrink from. I have the confidence of my officers and the loyalty of the rank and file. Indorse my recommendations, as they are moderate. This place is safe.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Commanding.

FORT TAYLOR, FLA., May 4, 1861.

J. P. BALDWIN, Esq., Mayor, Key West City :

MY DEAR SIR: I proposed on yesterday to print an address to the citizens of the United States on Key West. The address was delayed, and I take the opportunity to say to you, in continuation of the conversation had a few days since, that from circumstances brought to my attention direct, and from reliable sources, it is my opinion that there will be a strong effort made to distress the inhabitants of this key. Isolated and shut up by the water of the Gulf, should what I hear prove correct, the distress would be extreme upon the inhabitants of the island. It is in your power to aid in avoiding this contingency, which, whether near or remote, will be terrible when it comes. I have served in Florida during the early wars, and remember the distress of the inhabitants of Saint Augustine, to whom the government had to furnish subsistence. It is probable that such may be the case on the key. The government determining to hold it will be responsible for its loyal citizens; and should the necessities referred to arise, it will be necessary to discriminate, and those who do not belong here should be so notified.

It is also essential that it should be generally known that the functions of the commanding officer on Key West, ex officio, embrace during the present crisis all the military, including citizens desirous to bear arms for the preservation of life and property. It will be necessary for me, in order to combine them with those of the government, that a muster-roll according to the form prescribed should be supplied to these headquarters by any military organization now existing.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Commanding.