War of the Rebellion: Serial 001 Page 0384 OPERATIONS IN FLORIDA. Chapter IV.

Search Civil War Official Records

distribution were such as to make the landing of stores and munitions impracticable, and the capture of the transport fleet certain. Along the north side the water is quite shoal, and a landing of men or stores could only be made by boats or scows of light draught, and, indeed, on the south beach scows would be the landing agency for stores.

You will at once see that if we are kept restrained by superior field force suddenly landed, the debarkation could go on if no naval interference interrupts it. Open batteries could hardly be held against the assault of superior numbers, and might be turned by landing on the north side through Boca Chica or more eastern channels.

Thus, unless we have a force superior to any likely to be landed, open batteries would be rather unsafe reliance. By using abatis, &c., some power of resistance could be given to such defensive batteries, and they might be useful adjuncts. But the best and safest reliance is in a naval cordon and reef cruisers to cut up any expedition by the roots, and forbid it any foothold on this island. Our Navy, being at once available, could crush out any demonstration and annihilate the fleet of transports on which reliance would be placed as the base of operations. The combination of a large land artillery force with naval strength would be the same basis of defense, and this would afford the needed watch and give a chance of forming a line across the key east of the salt-house. I might discuss the strategy of the case much more, but it can hardly be needful. I should mention that the necessity of using steamers for dispatch boats in case of siege should be duly considered. Without this resource we might be for a long time shut up without information being conveyed. Whether the Havana and New York boats could be relied on then is to be doubted. On the whole, the main question is this: Are we in any danger of siege? If so, landing should be made impracticable or useless by such a concentration of force here as to control the east end of the key or to cut off all chance of landing a siege train and supplies. The attempt to use light-draught steamers to operate out of reach of naval vessels on the north side is to be considered and duly obviated.

I have been obliged to write this in haste. I do not suppose you will need to be reminded of the points considered, but it is better that I should omit nothing which might be thought my duty, should these considerations chance not to have been entertained.

Mr. Mallory wrote here, I have been told, by a recent mail, that when the C. S. Army were ready, an attempt to take these works would be made, but I do not believe this would be tried were our assured strength such as to contest the debarkation.

I am glad to say that from what I have heard to-day the secessionists here have essentially given in and are beginning to see the error of their ways. Judge Marvin has at last been induced, I believe, to hold on to this place, and I trust that all conflict of jurisdictions will not be avoided. It is surmised that Judge McIntosh may conclude not to come here at all.

Very respectfully, yours, &c.,


Captain of Engineers.

P. S.-Judge Marvin feels sure he will be here by the next boat, April 21. I suppose the shadow of destiny begins to show too clearly for further doubt. I think a turning point is passed, and "submission" to their former peace and quiet will, I hope, replace the rule of bad passions.