and seven 18 and eleven 12 pounders. The guns are generally indifferent, and the carriages old and not to be depended on.
I have not been able to ascertain the exact force of the secessionists, but so far as I can learn their forces in nearly 7,000 men. Their forts are fully armed, Fort McRee having, it is said, one hundred heavy guns. Fort Barrancas' guns are not so heavy, and they have, besides, several heavy batteries, so that take possession of Sant Rosa, which with my force I cannot prevent, they can erect batteries so as to enfilade every face.
I cannot too strongly urge the importance of the heavy rifled guns, with their carriages, for which I have estimates, sent without a moment's delay, though how we are to get them ashore in the face of an enemy I cannot now say.
I am now impressed with my inability to return, even moderately, a fire for any considerable time, and the entrance of the Powhatan will certainly cause a collision for which I am unprepared. I have urged Captain Meigs to defer his entrance until we are better prepared. A collision at this moment would embarrass me exceedingly in unloading the ship and getting my supplies ashore, and we are so short of all necessaries that they are of the first importance. In the face of the heavy batteries she will have to encounter, I very much doubt the possibility of the Powhatan getting in by daylight, though I may be mistaken. The odds against her are fearful.
I thought it advisable to inform the secession general of the position in which I stand, so I sent to him a flag of truce with the letter marked A, to which he returned no answer, only remarking to the bearer, Captain Vogdes, that in re-enforcing this fort I had broken the truce.
It is reported to me that until the day Captain Vogdes entered the fort communication by mail was allowed, they inspecting the letters, and forwarding such as they pleased and retaining the others; but since then no letters are forwarded either to or from this post. The post-office should be transferred to this place, and an officer appointed postmaster.
I have my whole force employed in mounting guns, making roads, preparing quarters, and unloading the steamer. Many traverses are indispensably necessary for the protection of the men and guns in case of a bombardment, and I have not been able for want of tools and sand bags even to commence them. In two days I think I shall be able to make a respectable defense against the combined force of the forts and batteries, and to inflict more injury than I shall receive.
I found affairs in Key West tending to so favorable an issue that a part of the forces there may be spared. I have, therefore, ordered two companies of infantry to proceed in the Crusader, which Captain Adams has kindly authorized me to use, to this post. When they arrive and those in the Illinois, I shall be so strong as to defy the taking of this fort by assault, whatever may be the force brought against it. I think these companies should be replaced by two others if they can be spared.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,