Milledgeville, February 21, 1862.
R. E. LEE,
GENERAL: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 18th instant. I am happy to learn that you have removed the troops from the islands and that you now have the guns at Savannah. God grant that they may enable you to drive the enemy's gunboats from the river when the attack comes.
In reference to the other point in your letter, I have to say that if my own house were in Brunswick I would certainly set fire to it, when driven from it by the enemy, rather than see it used by them as a shelter. We should destroy whatever the military necessities require. I am therefore prepared to sustain any order which in your opinion it is necessary to have executed. Private property and private rights must yield to the great public interests now at stake. The question of compensation will be one which will address itself to the State. When the war is over, justice to sufferers will no doubt be done.
Very respectfully, &c.,
JOSEPH E. BROWN.
AUGUSTA, GA., February 22, 1862.
General R. E. LEE, C. S. A.,
GENERAL: I have sent the bearer, Mr. N. B. Grant, a civil engineer in my employment, to ascertain if a small steamboat can be procured in Savannah for aiding in placing obstructions in the river.
I made a reconnaissance for about 70 miles down the river yesterday and the day before, and decided to place the proposed obstructions at that part of its course called Shell Bluff, about 45 miles from this city by water and 6 miles to the nearest point of the railroad. The stream at this place is 300 feet in width, impinging against the shell formation, which is surmounted by a ridge some 100 feet in height parallel to the course of the river, with a spur, affording direct fire at the point selected, at right angles to the stream and 100 yards distant.
There is also a small plateau about 30 feet perpendicular above the river at its highest stage, affording room for a battery or entrenchment of limited dimensions immediately on the river and at the foot of the ridge. This is the point I have selected to place the proposed obstructions, and offers excellent advantages for such purpose. The depth of the channel is about 30 feet at high water.
The river has many sudden and sharp turns in the part examined, with side currents of much force passing over the intervening inundated lands, thus rendering the navigation slow and difficult for a screw steamer at high stage of the water, and I understand the shallowness of the bars and numerous projecting stumps of trees render its navigation dangerous for boats drawing 6 feet or over of water at a medium stage of the river, and impracticable at low water to this place.
Thus a high stage of the water is probably the only period at which gunboats would make the attempt, and from the numerous high bluffs bordering the right bank of the river and commanding its channel at more than 200 yards distant, I think its navigation could be, in the general case, rendered dangerous to the enemy, if not absolutely stopped, by small-arms alone.