HEADQUARTERS TROOPS AT KEY WEST,
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,
WM. H. FRENCH,
Brevet Major, U. S. Army, Commanding.