before you had been enabled to gather in all the information necessary to enable you fully to judge of the condition of your department.
The arrival of the steamer Fingal at this critical moment is very opportune, and although the number of small-arms received is smaller than I had at first hoped, it is no contemptible addition to our means of defense.
Misled by a telegram which reported you to be at Savannah, I sent to you yesterday at that point the following dispatch, which I hope was forwarded to you:
Of the 9,000 Enfield rifles received by the Government on the Fingal 4,500 are assigned to your command, to be placed by you in the hands of Georgia and South Carolina troops in our service for the war. Order 4,500 to be sent immediately to General Albert S. Johnston at Nashville, and a few hundred will remain, which please send here. Put none of these arms in the hands of troops not enlisted for the war. The governor of Georgia has received 1,100 rifles by the same steamer, so that you will have 5,600 for service within your department.
As soon as I hear what further supplies we have on the Fingal in the way of cannon, &c., I will appropriate to you as full a share as I possibly can of whatever you may desire to aid your defense. I ordered Colonel A. R. Wright, by dispatch yesterday, to proceed at once to Savannah for aiding the coast defense, and, as this is a full regiment, for the war, I doubt not you will find it expedient to arm it which the new weapons. The 10,000 blankets on the Fingal have been ordered here, where our troops need them much more than in more southern latitudes. It is the President's wish that you scruple not in employing every governmental resource within your reach, even troops in transit. You will, however, scarcely need this, for most of these troops are without arms, and have been ordered here to receive arms collected by the Potomac Army from various sources. I have a long letter from an inhabitant of Charleston, signing himself John H. Robertson, informing me that the forts in the harbor are in very incompetent hands. The writer speaks highly of the harbor are in very incompetent hands. The writer speaks highly of Captain Rhett as a gentleman, but says he is totally without the experience necessary for so important a post. Of Captain Wagner he speaks in very different terms, representing him to be not only incompetent, but neglectful and dissipated, never spending the night in his fort, but coming to town to indulge in excesses with the common prostitutes. Of course this is for your private information, and the writer, who seems to be actuated by the best of motives, outhit not to be exposed to the hostility of these officers. I know, however, your habitual vigilance, and this communication was perhaps needless.
Don't fail to keep us constantly advised, especially of your wants, and rely on my very best efforts to support you with the whole means of the Government that can with prudence be diverted from other exposed points.
I am, your obedient servant,
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Acting Secretary of War.
SAVANNAH, November 14, 1861.
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:
I trust you will let us have as many of the guns as possible. They landed here, and cannot be needed worse elsewhere. There are four rifled cannot. Do let us have two of them for fort, which lacks heavy guns. Answer at Midlledgeville.
JOSEPH E. BROWN.