HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, C. S. TROOPS,
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.