hold out but a short time. It would be obliged to surrender with much loss of life, for it would be bravely and obstinately defended, and the greater the crowd within the greater the proportionate loss. This issue can be averted only by sending a large army and navy to capture all the surrounding forts and batteries, and to assemble and apply these there is now no time. If we do not evacuate Fort Sumter it will be wrested from us by force.
Fort Pickens.-Were this fort provided with a garrison of eight hundred or one thousand good soldiers, fully supplied with everything necessary to the best defense, and ably commanded, its utmost term of resistance would be about three weeks-rather less than more. Were the besieging army practiced int he war of sieges, it would hardly be maintained for a fortnight. With a garrison of three hundred to five hundred men only, and in its present destitution of essential means, its siege supplies consisting of guns and ammunition merely, and these scanty and not of the best kind, the siege must be a very short one. But even the making good the deficiencies would, as stated above, only defer the issue for a week or so. In any case a quick surrender would be inevitable.
Regarding he fort independently of co-operation on one side or the other of a naval force, or of other fortifications in the harbor, these conclusions are not to be doubted, without disregarding all military experience. The occupation by the investing forces of the shore opposite, with numerous batteries pouring their showers of shot and shell into the fort, while the regular siege operations upon Santa Rosa Island were going on, would materially abridge the term of resistance. A naval force uniting in the defense, but confined to the waters outside of the harbor, might, to a certain extent, increase the casualties of the besiegers, but would not materially retard the operations. In that case the approaches would be pushed along the inshore face of the island, leaving the breadth of the island, with is sand hills and ridges, between them and the ships; and, moreover, two or three batteries planted on the out-shore face, and sheltered from the fire of the fort by sand hills and traverses, would compel ships to keep an out-of-range offing. Could this naval force act upon the bay side of Santa Rosa Island as well as upon the sea side, the progress of a siege, if practicable at all, might be greatly retarded. Under such circumstances this kind of attack would hardly be undertaken. Were the investing forces numerous and enterprising they might, nevertheless, even then attempt a coup de main; and, provided the garrison were weak in numbers, and worn out by a protracted cannonade and bombardment from the opposite shore, the chances of success would warrant the attempt.
But I consider that the passing of vessels of war into the bay would be a very hazardous proceeding in the face of Fort McRee, Fort Barrancas, its advanced battery, and several other batteries that all accounts agree in stating have been erected and mounted along the shore, from the navy-yard inclusive to and beyond the light-house. It is possible, however, that this channel might be passed at night by swift war steamers without utter destruction, and there might be retained by one or more of them enough efficiency to prevent the hostile occupation of the lower part of Santa Rosa Island, and the prosecution there of siege operations against Fort Pickens. In such event resort would certainly be had to cannonade and bombardment from the batteries on the opposite shore, and these plied with vigor and perseverance would at last reduce the fort to a condition incapable of resisting vigorous assault, since the garrison would be exhausted, and the means of defense on the cannonaded