morning of the 7th instant. While of many articles large supplies were put on board, not less than fifty days' rations of any single article of subsistence accompanied us, and we carried with us thirty days' forage for the horses.
The dock was left covered with stores, shovels, sand bags, forage, subsistence, ammunition, and artillery, to follow with steamer Illinois, to sail on the evening of the 8th.
These two vessels it was believed would carry supplies for 1,000 men for six months.
The uncertainty of the Government as to the condition of Fort Pickens, and as to the very orders and instructions under which the squadron off that fortress was acting, led to apprehensions lest he place might be taken before relief could reach it.
A landing in boats from the mainland on a stormy night was perfectly practicable in spite of the utmost effort of a fleet anchored outside and off the bar to prevent it. Such a landing in force taking possession of the low flank embrasures by men arms dwight revolvers would be likely to sweep in a few minutes over the ramparts of Fort Pickens, defended by only forty soldiers and forty ordinary men from the navy-yard, a force which did not allow one man to be kept at each flanking gun.
Believing that a ship of war could be got ready for sea and reach Pensacola before any expedition in force, I advised the sending of such a ship under a young and energetic commander, with orders to enter the harbor without stopping, and, once in, to prevent any boat expedition from the main to Santa Rosa.
Captain David D. Porter readily undertook this dangerous duty, and, proceeding to New York, succeeded in fitting out the Powhatan, and sailed on the 6th for his destination.
Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, as the result will show, the Powhatan had been put of commission at Brooklyn and stripped of her crew and stores on the 1st April, only two and a half hours before the telegram from the President ordering her instant preparation for sea reached the commander of the navy-yard at that place. She was got ready for sea, however, by working night and day, and sailed on the 6th, about twelve hours before the Atlantic.
Off Hatteras, on Monday, 8th, the Atlantic ran into a heavy northeast gale, which increased to such a degree that, in order to save the horses on the forward deck, it became necessary to have the ship to under steam and keep her head to sea for over thirty-six hours. When the gale abated we found ourselves 100 miles out of our course, 138 miles east-southeast from Hatteras.
With all speed possible under the circumstances we made our way to Key West, where, anchoring off the harbor and allowing no other communication with the shore, Colonel Brown, the ordnance officer, Lieutenant Balch, and myself landed by boat at Fort Taylor.
Here, calling the United States judge, Mr. Marvin, the newly-appointed collector and marshal, and the commanding officer of the fort, Major French, to meet Colonel Brown at the fort, the orders and instructions of the President were communicated to these gentlemen, and the commission of marshal for Mr. H. Slapp, intrusted to me for this purpose by the Secretary of State, was delivered to Judge Marvin.
Several secession flags floated from buildings in view of the fort and upon the court-house of the town.
The President's orders to the authorities at Key West were to tolerate the exercise of no officer in authority inconsistent with the laws and Con-