to a gun. They could only make a single discharge, and would not probably be able to reload the guns. Should those on any of the fronts be discharged too soon, that front would be left without any defense. Moreover, the garrison is kept constantly harassed, and is almost every night obliged to be under arms, from fear of attack. With the present garrison, my company, and one hundred marines, which we could obtain from the fleet, I think it would be perfectly secure from assault.
Our means of communication with the Government are very uncertain. We do not feel certain that our communications have reached the Department, nor do we know whether the Department's messenger to us may not have been intercepted. Of course, we do not know how we are expected to act. I would suggest that a small steamer should ply between here and Havana, so as to communicate with the mail steamer from New York at that port. The supplies at the fort are getting low, and those of that naval forces are still lower. These last have not ten days' supply.
The Brooklyn leaves to-morrow for Key West or Havana in order to obtain a supply. Should she not succeed, the naval forces will have to be withdrawn. The Brooklyn has by far the most efficient battery of any of thaw ships on the station, and is besides probably the only vessel that could take up a position to effectively cover our landing. It is much to be regretted that she should be withdrawn at this juncture.
My company is to be transferred to the frigate Sabine.
Major Tower, of the Engineers, arrived on the 19th, but under the existing arrangement cannot reside within the fort. Even was he there, not having any force to labor, he could not do much. I have endeavored to lay before you a true statement of the disadvantageous position in which we are placed, and I trust that so fair as it can be done it will be remedied. Whatever may be done, I trust that we will be soldiers enough to do all that lies in our power to uphold the honor of our country's flag, and prevent its forts from being seized by those in rebellion against its authority.
Captain, First Artillery.
HEADQUARTERS FORT TAYLOR, FLA.,
March 27, 1861.
T. A. M. CRAVEN,
Lieutenant Commanding U. S. Steamer Crusader, Harbor of Key West:
SIR: In reference to our conversation this morning and the letter shown by you to myself, and with the desire that we may act together should an occasion occur, I deem it advisable to state that this fort is fully garrisoned with veteran soldiers, and I believe it is entirely within my paver to control this island and to prevent a lodgment thereon by any hostile force whatsoever; further, that I intend to treat any attempt to do so as an overt act of war, to be met at its initiation. I have no specific instructions from the War Department, but the course of my duty is clear, and I mean to follow it.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
WM. H. FRENCH,
Brevet Major, First Artillery, Commanding.