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

Fort Pickens, May 2, 1861.

Lieut. Col. TOWNSEND. Assistant Adjutant-General:

COLONEL: I have heretofore addressed my official communications to Colonel Keyes, because he, as the agent of the President as well as military secretary of the General-in-Chief, superintended the fitting out of the expedition for the relief of the fort, which expedition was then a secret one. The reasons for secrecy no longer existing, I address my letter, according to regulations, to you. Since my last letter to Colonel Keyes nothing of special interest has occurred. We have been unceasingly employed with my whole force and part of the ship’s in preparing the fort for defense and in unloading the Illinois. Some idea of the condition of the fort for defense may be had when it is considered that every day (one Sunday excepted) since the 17th of April, the day of my arrival, I have had from 1,000 to 1,200 men constantly at work, and of these, 800 have been employed on the work; and although we have achieved quite as much as I expected, we want a fortnight more of work before we shall be fully prepared to resist the numerous batteries and heavy guns that are bearing all around on us. The enemy are equally busy, having large numbers at work on several batteries which are visible to us, and judging by the number of men we see around one or two other places, I think that they have at least two other batteries we cannot see. All the guns excepting those of the forts seem of large caliber, 8 or 10 inch columbiads.

We can see one battery (No. 1) at the navy-yard; one (No. 2) in the rear of Warrington church–a large work, looking like an instruction camp; No. 3, near the barracks–no guns can be seen in it; a little southwest of the fort, and near the old light-house, a battery (No. 4) of four guns, very much concealed; and south of the new light-house another (No. 5) of four guns, plainly to be seen. There is probably one more between this and Fort McRee. These batteries and the forts enfilade and take in reverse every face and curtain of this work but one.

Fort McRee takes in reverse one more important battery, which is exposed front, flank, and rear to heavy and numerous guns (Plan D).(not found) I have no apprehensions whatever of an attack by escalade, as I think can whip them in open field; and in a very few days, by the able assistance of Major Tower, I shall be so protected from bombardment as, I hope, to be able to hold the fort a long time.

A man presented himself a few nights since to one of my sentinels, pretending to be a Northern man and a reporter of a newspaper. He brought us valuable information, and thinking his safety might be jeopardized if he returned, I sent him on board the Powhatan. Captain Porter suspected him, and there is but little doubt of his being a Southerner and a spy, as the inclosed letter, marked A, will show. He tore the original up, and scattered the fragments in a spit-box. Captain Porter had them collected and pasted together. Two days afterwards a constable or sheriff came over, under a flag, with a warrant against him for theft. I dismissed him without any name.

My command continues comparatively healthy, although the men are worked hard. In the hurry and confusion of our sudden departure from New York, articles of the first importance, which had been prepared and ready to go on board ship, were left behind, and others of little importance shipped; among the former, some 8 or 10 inch shells, which, as reported to me, were in a lighter alongside the Atlantic, and yet not taken on board. A special request to have them put on board the Illinois was also neglected, and not one of the former came. I have by borrowing of the Navy obtained enough of the latter for immediate service, and one hundred of the former, so that I have now 150–not enough for one day’s continuous firing. There are a great many guns in the fort, most of them from want of shell useless. There are twelve 32 or 42 pounder rifled guns. With a full supply of elongated balls [they] would be of inestimable value, and I earnestly hope that some of this kind are, in compliance with my former requisition, now on the way here, as also four sea-coast 10-inch mortars, and the 8 and 10 inch shells which were left behind. The 10-inch siege mortars will barely reach the navy-yard, and will not be so efficient as they should be, though I hope with the maximum charges to render them effective. I have a battery of two mortars in the ditch, and am now building another about half mile from the first, where I also propose to erect a battery of heavy guns, if the enemy gives us time and I can get them.

I am no further enlightened than when I last wrote on the cause of delay in their opening fire on us. Every day makes me feel more secure of making an efficient defense, and in a very few days my defensive preparations will be complete. I learn from several sources that the Montgomery and Pensacola Railroad is not finished by eight miles, and that they have two bridges yet to build.

Having received unofficial information that the President has issued a proclamation blockading the ports of the seceding States, I requested a conference with Captain Adams, commanding the naval forces, and asked him if he would not feel himself authorized to anticipate its official reception. Having also heard that a vessel loaded with an Armstrong gun and ammunition is on her way here from Charleston, I asked the captain if he would examine vessels entering the port, and stop such as have articles contraband of war. He said that his orders were to act strictly on the defensive; that a sufficient time has elapsed since the date of the proclamation for him to have received official notice of it if it were published, and as he has received no such notice he did not feel at liberty in any manner to alter the existing status. The next day I renewed the subject in a letter, a copy of which I send you (B) with his answer (C), in which he accedes to my wishes that vessels having articles contraband of war on board shall be stopped, and Captain Porter, with the Powhatan and a small schooner I let him have, is now boarding all vessels entering the harbor.

Major Arnold reports all well at Fort Jefferson; that he is busily engaged in strengthening his post, and that he considers himself capable of repelling any force that can be brought by the rebels against him.

At Key West the secession feeling fomented by the Confederate Secretary of the Navy still prevails among some influential citizens. Major French’s policy has been, I fear, too tampering, and he has not taken sufficiently active measures in strengthening the Union party and fostering the Union feeling. I have therefore given him peremptory orders (letter D)on the subject. I do not consider Key West to be sufficiently garrisoned, and have therefore ordered Major French, in case of the arrival of troops there on their way north, to detain two full companies (letter E). Should no troops be expected to touch there, I respectfully recommend that two companies of regulars or four of volunteers be immediately sent to that place. A small steamer or steam-tug–one that is fast and of light draught of water–would render us very great service. I have chartered a small schooner, but have had to let the Navy have her for overhauling vessels attempting to enter the harbor, and besides a sail vessel is not suitable for our purposes.

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

Major, Second Artillery, Colonel Commanding.

[Inclosure A. ]

U. S. STEAM-SLOOP POWHATAN, April 28, 1861.

Col. HARVEY BROWN, Commanding Fort Pickens, Fla.:

DEAR SIR: The inclosed letter will give you a pretty good idea of our “spy.” He tore it up and threw the pieces into a spit-box. I had them collected and put together. All his movements are watched.

He wrote another yesterday, which I shall get hold of before long. Please save the inclosed for me. I shall probably be pulling about the channel and harbor to-night or to-morrow night. Will you direct your guard-boat to keep clear of me? I shall be in a black double-banked boat, and the enemy have none such. If the guard-boat gets close to us, the watchword is “Bragg.”

A little pilot-boat schooner chartered by the Army arrived here yesterday. She would be a great acquisition to us for certain purposes, while here doing nothing. I am to act as guard-ship hereafter, and prevent the inside people from receiving munitions of war. The schooner would be a great assistance in enabling me to cut off fast sailing vessels. If you have the authority, do you not think that it would be well to keep her here? I will mount a rifle gun on her. Captain Adams has appointed the Wyandotte to assist me, but she draws fifteen feet of water, and could not chase those fellows over the shoal spots, and her machinery is defective. I could do more with the schooner, particularly with a breeze.

I am, very truly and respectfully, yours,

Lieutenant, Commanding.

J. C. MORRIS Esq.:

DEAR SIR: I wrote you from Atlanta. Was my note received and attended to? Please telegraph my friends that I spend a couple of days at Pensacola previous to my departure for Texas. I want to see a besieged fortress once in a life-time. Everything goes on finely here. Hope to hear of surrender of Fort Sumter to-day; next Pickens, and then Washington.

Very truly,


[Inclosure B.]

Fort Pickens, April 26, 1861.

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

CAPTAIN: I received yesterday the lanterns and your order, for which I am much obliged. We are sadly deficient in 8-inch shell for one sea-coast howitzer, to act against the navy-yard. I am told that you have some. If you have and can spare a part of them it will greatly relieve me. I am also told that the Brooklyn has an abundance of 9-inch shell guns, and I would submit to your consideration the expediency of establishing a naval battery near the fort of, say, three of those guns, to be manned and fought exclusively by the Navy. Their co-operation in this manner would be of the most essential importance, and the Navy associated with the Army in the defense of this fort would cause a generous emulation between the two services promotive of the best feeling. I am told that a vessel is now on her way from Charleston to this place, loaded with an Armstrong gun, ammunition, and projectiles. It is of vital importance to us that such a gun should not be used against us, and I cannot but think that with the information we now have of hostilities having actually commenced, you will be warranted in detaining her, or any other vessel having articles contraband of war, and I would suggest whether your not doing so might not be unfavorably received at home. I do not, under present existing circumstances, propose capturing the vessel, but only that entrance to this harbor should be prohibited.

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

Colonel, Commanding.

[Inclosure C. ]

Off Pensacola, April 28, 1861.

Col. H. BROWN, Commanding Department of Florida, Fort Pickens :

SIR: I fully concur with you in the propriety of preventing munitions of war from being carried into Pensacola, and have given the necessary orders to that effect. The establishment of a naval battery on shore seems to me at this time almost impracticable. Our men are exhausted by hard work, which is still accumulating, and diminished by sickness and detachments. The remainder are necessary for the care and defense of the ships, and for landing parties to co-operate with you. Officers we have none. I am hourly looking for the arrival of Flag Officer Stringham, to whom I will refer your proposal immediately. He will have a fresh crew and officers to spare. In the mean time I would suggest that a place for the battery be selected and prepared for the guns by laying platforms, &c. They are very heavy, and will require solid foundations.

Will not the guns of the Brooklyn do quite as efficient service on board as they would on shore to prevent in the manner we discussed the other day the approach to the fort by Santa Rosa? In case of necessity she can get much nearer the beach than she now is.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Captain, Senior Officer Present.

[Inclosure D.]

Fort Pickens, Fla., May 2, 1861.

Maj. W. H. FRENCH, Commanding Fort Taylor:

MAJOR: Your communication of 24th ultimo, regarding affairs at Key West, is received.

The colonel commanding approves your reasons for not cutting the brush and undergrowth on the island, and you will, therefore, leave it uncut. The purchase of the schooner is also approved, but the colonel thinks it might have been better to submit the matter to the proper authority in Washington. Your proposed purchase of mules is approved, and you will send them here by the first opportunity. As soon as possible, endeavor to learn certainly whether Judge Marvin intends to resign, and if he does, direct him to report the fact to Washington immediately by the Illinois, if possible. The colonel further directs that you ascertain definitely whether the State courts acknowledge allegiance to the United States. If they do, you will protect them fully in the discharge of their legitimate duties; if not, you will forbid and prevent their sessions. You will give the new Federal appointments your full support and countenance.

In no case must any other flag than our national one be permitted to fly over any public building, or any body of men doing or organized to do, anything belonging to the duties of the Federal Government. Should the necessity arise, you will be directed in your course by the letter of instructions to the colonel, and be firm and decided in executing your orders. You will go to Mr. Patterson, and having shown the authority of the colonel, will request him to furnish steamers in government employ with coal in cases of necessity. The colonel will address him personally on the subject.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

[Inclosure E.]

Fort Pickens, Fla., May 1, 1861.

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

MAJOR: The colonel commanding directs that if a vessel shall arrive at Key West with troops bound for a northern post, if the commander does not rank the colonel commanding this department, you direct him to land two companies, filled to the maximum organization from others which may be on board, to form a part of the garrison of the fort or barracks, as you may deem most advisable, and, if necessary, to be transferred to this post for its defense. If the officer in command should be superior in rank, you will then show him a copy of the order of the President, giving the colonel commanding authority to call on all officers of the Army and Navy for assistance, and in his name call upon him for the two companies. You will show the authority named to the officer, whether he does or does not rank the colonel commanding.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

RALEIGH, May 1, 1861.


Convention bill passed; also a resolution authorizing me to send troops to Virginia at once without limit. Our mint at Charlotte will coin for the Confederate Government if desired. Ships of war are hovering on our coast near the Cape Fear. Design unknown. I am preparing to manufacture percussion caps. Will succeed. More troops are offering than we can provide for.


Montgomery, April 30, 1861.

Brig. Gen. BRAXTON BRAGG, Commanding at Pensacola:

GENERAL: Apprehending that you might have construed the suggestions thrown out from this Department as to the erection of batteries on Santa Rosa Island, and as to the attack on Fort Pickens, into orders to proceed first to the occupation of that island, and next to an immediate bombardment and general assault of the fort, I write to say that as to both points I desire you will consult your own judgment and discretion. It is true that this Government considers the early reduction of Fort Pickens as highly important, but it is not desired that you will proceed until you shall feel assured of success through an entire confidence in your own arrangements, and the dispositions must be left with yourself, save when positively instructed.

Very respectfully,


RALEIGH, April 26, 1861


I have sent Colonel Holmes to take command of coast defenses, with full instructions. I regard the Cape Fear as perfectly secure. He can judge of that, however.


Off Pensacola, April 26, 1861.


Colonel Brown thinks it probable that an attempt may be made by General Bragg to land forces on Santa Rosa Island with a view of making approaches by land against Fort Pickens, in which case he asks the co-operation of the squadron to prevent it. You will therefore have as many men ready to land as can be spared with safety to your ship. The signal of danger will be two rockets thrown up from the fort, which are to be answered by the ships. On seeing this signal you will immediately have your boats manned and armed for service. A detachment of soldiers will leave the fort at the same time, and march along the beach on the sea side toward the ships, displaying two red lights. They will form near the beach, opposite the ships, to cover the landing of the seamen. Their position being known by the red lights, the boats will land as near them as possible, and the men formed to unite with the soldiers in executing whatever orders are given by the commanding officer.

Captain, U. S. Navy, Senior Officer Present.

MONTGOMERY, April 25, 1861.

Gov. J. W. ELLIS, Raleigh, N. C.:

Major Whiting writes from Wilmington that he needs one thousand muskets and accouterments and one hundred rounds ammunition from Fayetteville Arsenal.



MONTGOMERY, April 25, 1861.

Gov. J. W. ELLIS, Raleigh, N. C.

I shall have to supply with arms three regiments from Tennessee and one from Arkansas that rendezvous at Lynchburg, Va. Can you send this Government two thousand percussion muskets to be sent to Lynchburg?



RALEIGH, April 25, 1861.


Arms at Fayetteville off the railroad. Two thousand percussion muskets are at your service soon as can be procured. Where will you have them sent?



MONTGOMERY, April 25, 1861.

Gov. J. W. ELLIS, Raleigh, N. C.:

Am much obliged for the muskets, and request that you send them to Richmond, Va., to my address as Secretary of War of the Confederate States. The troops to be supplied by North Carolina will rendezvous at Richmond. Transportation provided by the Government. Let me know when they will be ready.


Havana, April 25, 1861.

Brig. Gen. J. G. TOTTEN,
Chief of Engineers, Washington:

GENERAL: In obedience to orders from the President of the United States, I accompanied as engineer the expedition of Colonel Brown, fitted out in New York, and sailing under secret and confidential orders to attempt to re-enforce Fort Pickens.

I left Washington on the afternoon of the 3d April, having been engaged from the 31st March in preparation for the expedition.

The Secretary of State having assured me that any arrangement I might make for the preservation and control of the public works under my charge in Washington during my absence would be approved by the Executive, I appointed Capt. J. N. Macomb, Topographical Engineers and my brother-in-law, my attorney to sign checks, draw requisitions, and do all other acts necessary for the control of these public works until my return.

Arrived in New York, I devoted myself, in concert with the commander of the expedition, Col. Harvey Brown, Colonel Keyes, military secretary, and others, to the fitting out of the vessels necessary to convey the troops, horses, artillery, ordnance, and stores to Santa Rosa.

By the request of the President I sailed in the first transport ready, the Atlantic steamer, formerly of the Collins line, with instructions to remain with Colonel Brown until he was established in Fort Pickens, and then to return to my duties in Washington.

We had on board five companies of artillery and infantry, two of which were light artillery, Barry’s and Hunt’s. Captain Barry’s company carried their horses with them, 73 in number. Captain Hunt’s company, having lost their horses by the treachery of General Twiggs in Texas, were dismounted.

Such artillery as could be hastily collected, such part of the stores and supplies for six months for 1,000 men, purchased in New York, as could be embarked by the evening of the 6th April, were placed on board and the vessel hauled into the stream after sunset on that date.

She continued taking in stores during the night and sailed on the morning of the 7th instant. While of many articles large supplies were put on board, not less than fifty days’ rations of any single article of subsistence accompanied us, and we carried with us thirty days’ forage for the horses.

The dock was left covered with stores, shovels, sand bags, forage, subsistence, ammunition, and artillery, to follow with steamer Illinois, to sail on the evening of the 8th.

These two vessels it was believed would carry supplies for 1,000 men for six months.

The uncertainty of the Government as to the condition of Fort Pickens, and as to the very orders and instructions under which the squadron off that fortress was acting, led to apprehensions lest the place might be taken before relief could reach it.

A landing in boats from the mainland on a stormy night was perfectly practicable in spite of the utmost efforts of a fleet anchored outside and off the bar to prevent it. Such a landing in force taking possession of the low flank embrasures by men armed with revolvers would be likely to sweep in a few minutes over the ramparts of Fort Pickens, defended by only forty soldiers and forty ordinary men from the navy-yard, a force which did not allow one man to be kept at each flanking gun.

Believing that a ship of war could be got ready for sea and reach Pensacola before any expedition in force, I advised the sending of such a ship under a young and energetic commander, with orders to enter the harbor without stopping, and, once in, to prevent any boat expedition from the main to Santa Rosa.

Capt. David D. Porter readily undertook this dangerous duty, and, proceeding to New York, succeeded in fitting out the Powhatan, and sailed on the 6th for his destination.

Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, as the result will show, the Powhatan had been put out of commission at Brooklyn and stripped of her crew and stores on the 1st April, only two and a half hours before the telegram from the President, ordering her instant preparation for sea reached the commander of the navy-yard at that place. She was got ready for sea, however, by working night and day, and sailed on the 6th, about twelve hours before the Atlantic.

Off Hatteras, on Monday, 8th, the Atlantic ran into a heavy northeast gale, which increased to such a degree that, in order to save the horses on the forward deck, it became necessary to heave the ship to under steam and keep her head to sea for over thirty-six hours. When the gale abated we found ourselves 100 miles out of our course, 138 miles east-southeast from Hatteras.

With all speed possible under the circumstances we made our way to Key West, where, anchoring off the harbor and allowing no other communication with the shore, Colonel Brown, the ordnance officer, Lieutenant Balch, and myself landed by boat at Fort Taylor.

Here, calling the United States judge, Mr. Marvin, the newly-appointed collector and marshal, and the commanding officer of the fort, Major French, to meet Colonel Brown at the fort, the orders and instructions of the President were communicated to these gentlemen, and the commission of marshal for Mr. H. Clapp, intrusted to me for this purpose by the Secretary of State, was delivered to Judge Marvin.

Several secession flags floated from buildings in view of the fort and upon the court-house of the town.

The President’s orders to the authorities at Key West were to tolerate the exercise of no officer in authority inconsistent with the laws and Constitution of the United States, to support the civil authority of the United States by force of arms if necessary, to protect the citizens in their lawful occupations, and in case rebellion or insurrection actually broke out to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, and remove from the vicinity of the fortresses of Key West and Tortugas all dangerous or suspected persons.

Having by restowing much of our cargo made room for some additions, Colonel Brown here drew from Fort Taylor a battery of 12-pounder howitzers and 6-pounder guns, three 10-inch siege mortars for which shells had been embarked at New York, and a supply of ammunition for the field pieces; these, being placed upon a scow, were towed out to the Atlantic anchorage by the Crusader, Captain Craven, and put upon her decks during the night.

Early the next morning, 14th April, we proceeded to the Tortugas, where proper instructions were left with Major Arnold, commanding the place. Four mountain howitzers, with prairie carriages, light and suitable either for the sands of Santa Rosa or for the service upon the covered ways of Fort Pickens, with supplies of fixed ammunition, spherical case and canister, were taken on board.

Twenty carpenters and one overseer, engaged in Washington, had followed me to New York and were already on board the Atlantic.

To assist in the manual labor of disembarking the immense stores, to be landed on an open sea beach exposed to the broad Gulf of Mexico, Colonel Brown, under the ample powers conferred on him by the President, directed Lieutenant Morton, Engineers, to send with the expedition one overseer and twenty of the hired negroes at Fort Jefferson, and skillful with the oar and the rope. By some mistake twenty-one of the negroes embarked, and they proved hardy, willing, and cheerful laborers during the disembarkation.

Lieutenants Reese and McFarland, Engineers, here joined the expedition.

To assist in landing artillery, the attempt was made to tow a scow from Fort Jefferson to Pensacola, but it broke from its fastenings before we left the harbor. It has since been recovered at the fort.

Leaving the harbor of Tortugas after dark on the 14th, forcing our way through a heavy head sea caused by a severe norther, losing all the horse-stalls on the port bow of the steamer, washed away by the sea, though fortunately without destroying any of the horses, we reached the anchorage of the squadron off Pensacola bar at 6 p.m. of the 16th instant. It must then have been known in Pensacola, though concealed from the fort and from those afloat, that Fort Sumter had, after bombardment, surrendered on the 13th.

Communicating with Captain Adams, commanding the squadron, and exhibiting his instructions from the President, Colonel Brown called upon him for boats to make a landing immediately after dark.

The Atlantic proceeded at dark, towing the boats to anchor near the shore, and, while waiting for the boats to come alongside, the signal for attack, two rockets from the fort, was made by Captain Vogdes.

Captain Vogdes, with his company and 110 marines, had landed on the night of the 12th. The orders of General Scott to him to land, received some days before, had not been executed, because unrevoked instructions to Captain Adams from the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of War contradicted them. Captain Adams had therefore declined landing the troops until Lieutenant Slemmer officially informed him that he apprehended an attack.

From the signs visible on the mainland and from information received by him, Lieutenant Slemmer on the 12th, being convinced that an attack was imminent, called upon Captain Adams to land the troops and it was done that night.

Major Tower, Engineers, thought that this landing and very stormy weather had deferred the attack. But commotion on shore and movements visible from the fort led them to believe that an attack would be made immediately after the arrival of the Atlantic, and therefore the signal was sent up.

The ditches of the Barrancas were lighted up and much hurrahing was heard.

While the boats were collecting on the Atlantic, Colonel Brown and his staff, taking a boat of the frigate Sabine, under Lieutenant Belknap, of that vessel, pulled into the mouth of the harbor, and we landed on the beach between Forts McRee and Pickens. Passing many sentinels and patrols, we entered Fort Pickens by the north gate, and were gladly welcomed by Captain Vogdes and his officers, who assured us that five thousand men might be expected on shore in a short time.

I returned in the Sabine’s boat to direct the landing of all the men who could be got ashore during the night.

On our way to the Atlantic we met the fleet of boats, and which landed as intended, and put our two hundred men into the fort within a few hours after our arrival.

The night passed off quietly, and the next morning early all the rest of the command, with the exception of the carpenters and laborers and Captain Barry’s artillery company, retained to attend to their horses, were landed on the beach and marched into the fort.

I landed that morning, with Captain Barry and a covering party of men, about five miles from Fort Pickens and reconnoitered the island, determined upon a suitable place for landing the horses and for an intrenched camp out of range of the heaviest artillery on the mainland, and at a point beyond which a boat canal may easily be cut across the island.

During the day and night of the 17th and the morning of the 18th the horses were got ashore. One was drowned alongside by some mismanagement., one got loose, swam twice around the ship before he was caught., and died from exhaustion after landing, and one, turned head over heels by the surf, broke his neck. Four had died and been thrown overboard in the boisterous passage, so that seven out of seventy-three were lost. The rest landed safely, and were at once set to work to haul into the fort the immense stores brought with the expedition.

On the morning of the 17th, while engaged in landing the horses, the Powhatan, which we had passed without seeing her during the voyage, hove in sight. A note from Colonel Brown advised me that in his opinion her entrance into the harbor at that time would bring on a collision, which it was very important to defer until our stores, guns, and ammunition were disposed of.

As the enemy did not seem inclined yet to molest us; as with 600 troops in the fort and three war steamers anchored close inshore there was no danger of a successful attempt at a landing by the enemy, it was evident that it was important to prevent a collision, and her entrance would have uselessly exposed a gallant officer and a devoted crew to extreme dangers.

The circumstances had changed since Captain Porter’s orders had been issued by the President. Knowing the imperative nature of these orders and the character of him who bore them, I feared that it would not be possible to arrest his course; but requesting the commander of the Wyandotte, on board of which I fortunately found myself at the time I received Colonel Brown’s letter, to get under way and place his vessel across the path of the Powhatan, making signal that I wished to speak with him, I succeeded at length, in spite of his changes of course and his disregard of our signals, in stopping this vessel, which steered direct for the perilous channel on which frowned the guns of McRee, Barrancas, and many newly-constructed batteries.

I handed to Captain Porter Colonel Brown’s letter, indorsed upon it my hearty concurrence in its advice, which, under his authority from the Executive, had the force of an order from the President himself, and brought the Powhatan to anchor near the Atlantic, in position to sweep with her guns the landing place and its communications.

The Brooklyn shortly afterwards anchored east of the Atlantic, and the Wyandotte took up position near her.

The landing of so many tons of stores was laborious and tedious. Whenever the surf would permit, it was carried on by the boats of the several vessels, Powhatan, Brooklyn, Wyandotte, Sabine, and St. Louis. The most useful boats engaged were the paddle-box boats of the Powhatan. One of them, armed with a Dahlgren boat howitzer, was kept ready to protect the stores and men on the beach from the guard-boats of the enemy, which would occasionally approach the narrow island from the bay opposite. None of them, however, interrupted the landing.

On the night of the 19th-20th the Illinois arrived bringing Brooks’ and Allen’s companies and 100 recruits and some sixteen stragglers from the companies embarked on the Atlantic. She brought in all 295 men and officers and a full cargo of stores.

On the 23d, having landed all the cargo of the Atlantic, having seen Colonel Brown established in Fort Pickens, I proceeded to sea in the Atlantic to leave dispatches and get coal at Key West, to return her to New York and myself to return to Washington.

The naval store of coal at Key West is small and the Mohawk was about to take her place at the dock to coal and proceed to Fort Pickens to relieve the Wyandotte, almost worn out, having been over one hundred days under steam without opportunity for repair.

The only merchant on the island who had coal for sale, Mr. Tift, sympathizing with those who are in array against his country, refused to sell coal to a steamer in Government employ, and the Atlantic was forced to come to this port as the quickest way of obtaining coal for the voyage to New York.

The seizure of the Star of the West, the issue of letters of marque and reprisal, and the proclamation of the President were not then known to us.

Large requisitions for ordnance and ordnance stores have been made by Colonel Brown. They should be forwarded with all possible dispatch.

The principal batteries constructed against Fort Pickens are beyond the range of the siege 10-inch mortars at that place, and heavy sea-coast 10-inch mortars are much needed. A battery of rifled guns is also wanted.

The distance of the hostile batteries is so great that I think, therefore, though annoying, will do little damage. Rifled 42-pounders will enable the garrison to dismount the 10-inch columbiads which arm the battery west of the light-house, and which are the most formidable opposed to them.

Sea-coast mortars placed in battery outside the fort, but protected by its fire, will cover the whole ground occupied by hostile batteries, and will draw off much of the fire intended for Fort Pickens.

I advised Colonel Brown to place the greater part of his men in an intrenched camp outside. He has now, including marines and 21 mechanics, nearly 1,000 men in the fort.

A favorable spot for camping is found about four miles from the west end of the island. It is beyond the range of the 13-inch sea-coast mortar at the navy-yard. It is overlooked, as is the whole narrow island between it and the fort, by the guns of the steamer–9 and 11 inch guns. A good road can be made between this intrenched camp and the fort, perfectly protected by sand ridges forming natural epaulements from all horizontal fire for nine-tenths of the distance. A boat channel can be easily cut through the island just above it, and this may enlarge to a navigable inlet. Here the men and horses would be healthy, safe from annoyance and from fire.

The fort itself, it appears to me, should be treated like the batteries in front of besieging parallels. Men enough to work the guns in use and to protect it against a sudden dart should be kept in it, and none others exposed to fire.

Thus treated, so long as the United States maintains a naval supremacy off Pensacola, it appears to me that Fort Pickens can be held with little loss of life.

As Fort Sumter, I learned at Key West, has been bombarded and taken, I presume that the farce of peace so long kept up at Pensacola while planting batteries against the United States will soon terminate, and that the entrance of troops, provisions, munitions, and ordnance, by steam and sail, under the guns of our squadron and of our fortress, to be turned against both whenever convenient to do s% will be stopped.

The enemy did not seem to be ready to commence hostilities. They stopped the papers on the night of our arrival, 16th, and of the next mail they allowed, I understand, only two letters to come off to the squadron, both from Southern States. They informed the garrison that Fort Sumter had surrendered without bloodshed; that General Scott had resigned; that Virginia had seceded; that Pennsylvania troops passing through Baltimore to the defense of Washington had been robbed of 8,000 stand of arms, &c., but they continued to work the naval foundery night and day, Sundays included, casting, as was reported, solid shot for their 10-inch and other guns, and they moved artillery from Fort McRee to other positions in preparation for hostilities.

Fort Pickens, Fort Taylor, and Fort Jefferson need much to put them beyond all hazard from the attack of a naval power. Upon these wants I shall have the honor of making a detailed report.

Orders were given by Colonel Brown, as commanding the new Military Department of Florida, for the fortification of the Tortugas Keys, so in connection with vessels of the Navy moved in proper positions, to command the whole anchorage. At present a fleet could enter that harbor and find secure anchorage without exposing a single ship to the fire of Fort Jefferson.

Orders were also given to the commander at Key West and to the Engineer officer, Captain Hunt, to prepare plans for intrenchments to prevent a hostile landing on the island of Key West.

Fort Taylor, with a brick and concrete scarp exposed toward the island, from which it is only 300 yards distant, cannot resist a landing, and is no better fitted to withstand bombardment than Fort Sumter. The burning woodwork of its barracks would soon drive out its garrison.

I add an approximate estimate of the United States forces on and about Santa Rosa Island, said to be opposed by about 5,000 to 7,000 men on the mainland. The army on the mainland, however, is probably increased by detachments set at liberty by the taking of Fort Sumter, unless, as is more probable, their armies are both intended for action against Washington City:

The Mohawk, at Key West, is ordered up to relieve the Wyandotte; and the St. Louis is at Key West, believed to be under orders for the Tortugas. Crusader is here to return to Key West in a day or two.

The expedition is under great obligations to the sailors of the fleet, who were ready and untiring in the severe labor of landing horses, ordnance, and stores of all kinds upon the sea beach, exposed at times to a heavy surf, which killed one horse and bilged several boats.

Lieutenants Brown, of the Powhatan, and Lewis, of the Sabine, remained on board the Atlantic for several days, directing the boats and seamen, and were of the greatest assistance to us.

Captain Gray, commanding this steamer, the Atlantic, deserves the thanks of the Government. None could exceed him in efforts for the success of the expedition and for the well-being and comfort of all on board. Night and day he and his crew worked at their posts embarking or disembarking men and stores. His skillful seamanship carried the vessel with the loss of only four horses through a most severe gale which lasted for thirty-six hours, and his watchfulness narrowly saved her from collision with a large vessel at night and during the height of the storm.

I have the honor to be, general, your obedient servant,

Captain of Engineers.

RALEIGH, April 24, 1861.


You shall have from one to ten thousand volunteers in a few days, with arms, and I wish them to go as State troops. Many of our men will enlist in Confederate Army. Will have a regiment ready in four days. Funds will be required for transportation, as I cannot lawfully draw on the State treasury for this purpose. I am anxious to send at least three regiments. Our legislature will meet in few days. I will not await, however.


Fort Pickens, Fla., April 23, 1861.

Bvt. Maj. W. H. FRENCH,
Commanding Key West, Fla.:

SIR: I am directed by the colonel commanding to say that at his request Captain Adams, commanding the naval forces at this place, has ordered the steamship Crusader to be stationed off your fort in such a manner as to give you necessary aid and protection. Her captain is also required to render you assistance in any manner that you may require consistently with the safety of his vessel.

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

Assistant Adjutant-General.

Fayetteville, N. C., April 23, 1861.

COLONEL: I have to report that this arsenal was surrendered to the State of North Carolina yesterday, on demand of the governor of the State, which demand was sustained by a force of one thousand and fifty rank and file of State troops, well armed and equipped. The demand for the surrender being made, supported by such an overwhelming force, after consulting with Captain Bradford, the commander of the arsenal, we did not deem it necessary to offer a resistance, which in the end could be of no avail other than the total annihilation of my command (which at the time consisted of only forty-two effective muskets), as there was no probability, or possibility I may say, I could or would be re-enforced. I inclose a certified copy of the terms agreed upon between myself and the governor’s aide-de-camp with regard to the withdrawal of my command.

I have to-day ordered Lieutenant De Lagnel to Wilmington, N. C., for the purpose of procuring transportation for the troops to one of the northern posts.

Captain Bradford, the commander of the arsenal, and on whom the demand for surrender was made, has made an official report to the chief of his corps, which embraces all the particulars regarding the surrender.

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

………Capt., Second Artillery, and Bet. Maj., U. S. A., Comdg. Troops.

………Adjutant-General U. S. Army, Washington City, D. C.


Duplicate of the terms agreed upon between Maj. S. S. Anderson, Second Artillery, and Warren Winslow, esq., on the part of Governor Ellis, for the withdrawal of the United States forces now stationed at the North Carolina Arsenal, in Fayetteville, N. C., and the transfer of the United States property to the State authorities..

1. The United States troops now composing the guard at the United States Arsenal shall be permitted to march out with their arms, and all of their personal and company property of every description whatsoever.

2. The subsistence stores necessary for their use hence to their ultimate destination shall be taken by them.

3. The United States troops now about to evacuate the arsenal at this place shall be permitted to salute (with twenty-one guns) their flag before it is lowered.

4. The company of United States troops now here shall be permitted to retain their quarters, and be unmolested therein, until arrangements can be made (which will be immediately done) for their removal.

5. A safe-conduct shall be given (pledging therefor the good faith and honor of the State of North Carolina) to the United States troops now evacuating the United States Arsenal, through the State of North Carolina, to the coast; nor shall they be molested in their property or person while within the limits of the State or the waters thereof.

6. Every facility for leaving the borders of North Carolina shall be afforded to the withdrawn command, nor shall any impediment be thrown in the way to prevent the accomplishment of this object.

7. In order to the preservation of a peaceful condition between the parties to these terms of agreement, it is agreed that while the withdrawing United States forces remain necessarily at the arsenal awaiting transportation, the present command will be permitted to act as a guard, for the sole purpose of preserving good order and decorum within their own command.

8. With a desire to avoid unnecessarily wounding and paining the feelings or sense of honor of the parties to these terms of agreement, no flag will be hoisted on the staff at the arsenal, or within the limits of the Government grounds, until the departure of the troops, excepting the necessary raising of the North Carolina, or Confederate flag, in token of evacuation by the one party and possession by the other party. On the part of the governor of North Carolina, these terms were fully assented to.


Capt., Second Artillery, Bvt. Maj., U. S. A., Comdg. Troops.
22, 1861.