many of the officers of the Navy, who could steer a ship into the harbor by the natural land marks with perfect safety. This, be it remembered,is not now a subject of speculation; the actual experiment has been tried. The Star of the West did pass the battery, and did overcome the difficulties of the navigation, meeting with no serious trouble from either cause. They have tried it; we can say probatum est; and there is an end to the controversy. I am convinced that a pirate, or a slaver, or a smuggler, who could be assured of making five hundred dollars by going into the harbor in the face of all the dangers which now threaten a vessel bearing the American flag, would laugh them to scorn, and to one of our naval officers who has the average of daring, "the danger's self were lure alone."
There really seems to me nothing in the way that ought to stop us except the guns of Fort Moultrie. If they are suffered to open a fire upon a vessel bearing re-enforcements to Fort Sumter, they might stop any other vessel as they stopped the Star of the West. But is it necessary that this intolerable outrage should be submitted to? Would it not be an act of pure self-defense on the part of Major Anderson to silence Fort Moultrie, if it be necessary to do so, for the purpose of incurring the safety of a vessel whose arrival at Fort Sumter is necessary for his protection, and could he not do it effectually? Would the South Carolinians dare to fire upon any vessel which Major Anderson would tell them before hand must be permitted to pass, on pain of his guns being opened upon her assailants? But suppose it impossible for an unarmed vessel to pass the battery, what is the difficulty of sending the Brooklyn or the Macedonian in? I have never heard it alleged that the latter could not cross the bar, and I think if the fact had been so it would have been mentioned in my hearing before this time. It will turn out upon investigation, after all that has been said and sung about the Brooklyn that there is water enough there for her. She draws ordinarily only sixteen and one-half feet, and her draught can be reduced eighteen inches by putting her upon an even keel. The shallowest place will give her eighteen feet of water at night tide. In point of fact, she has crossed that bar more than once. But apart even from these resources, the Government has at its command three or four smaller steamers of light draught and great speed, which could be armed and at sea in a few days,and would not be in the least troubled by any opposition that could be made to their entrance.
It is not, however, necessary to go into these details, with which, I presume, you are fully acquainted. I admit that the state of things may be somewhat worse now than they were a week ago, and are probably getting worse every day; but is not that the strongest reason that can be given for taking time by the forelock?
I feel confident that you will excuse me for making this communication. I have some responsibilities of my own to meet, and I can discharge them only when I understand the subject to which they relate. Your opinion, of course, will be conclusive upon me, for on such a matter I cannot do otherwise than defer to your better judgment. If you think it most consistent with your duty to be silent, I shall have no right to complain.
If you would rather answer orally than make a written reply, I will meet you either at your own quarters or here in the State Department as may best suit your convenience.
I am, most respectfully, yours, &c.,
J. S. BLACK.