its fire, will cover the whole ground occupied by hostile batteries, and will draw off much of the fire intended for Fort Pickens.
I advised Colonel Brown to place the greater part of his men in an entrenched camp outside. He has now, including marines and 21 mechanics, nearly 1,000 men in the fort.
A favorable spot for camping is found abut four miles from the west end of the island. It is beyond the range of the 13-inch sea-coast mortar at the navy-yard. It is overlooked, as is the whole narrow island between it and the fort, by the guns of the steamer-9 and 11 inch guns. A good road can be made between this entrenched camp and the fort, perfectly protected by sand ridges forming natural epaulements from all horizontal fire for nine-tenths of the distance. A boat channel can be easily cut through the island just above it, and this may enlarge to a navigable inlet. Here the men and horses would be healthy, safe from annoyance and from fire.
The fort itself, it appears to me, should be treated like the batteries in front of besieging parallels. Men enough to work the guns in use and to protect it again a sudden dart should be kept in it, and none others exposed to fire.
Thus treated, so long as the United States maintains a naval supremacy off Pensacola, it appears to me that Fort Pickens can be held with little loss of life.
As Fort Sumter, I learned at Key West, has been bombarded and taken, I presume that the farce of peace so long kept up at Pensacola while planting batteries against the United States will soon terminate, and that the entrance of troops, provisions, munitions, and ordnance, by steam and sail, under the guns of our squadron and of our fortress, to be turned against both whenever convenient to do so, will be stopped.
The enemy did not seem to be ready to commence hostilities. They stopped the papers on the night of our arrival, 16th, and of the next mail they allowed, I understand, only two letters to come off to the squadron, both from Southern States. They informed the garrison that Fort Sumter had surrendered without bloodshed; that General Scott had resigned; that Virginia had seceded; that Pennsylvania troops passing through Baltimore to the defense of Washington had been robbed of 8,000 stand of arms, &c., but they continued to work the naval founder night and days, Sundays included, casting, as was reported, solid shot for their 10-inch and other guns, and they moved artillery from Fort McRee to other positions in preparation for hostilities.
Fort Pickens, Fort Taylor, and Fort Jefferson need much to put them beyond all hazard from the attack of a naval power. Upon these wants I shall have the honor of making a detailed report.
Orders were given by Colonel Brown, as commanding the new Military Department of Florida, for the fortification of the Tortugas Keys, so as, in connection with vessels of the Navy moved in proper positions, to command the whole anchorage. At present a fleet could enter that harbor and find secure anchorage without exposing a single ship to the fire of Fort Jefferson.
Orders were also given to the commander at Key West and to the Engineer officer, Captain Hunt, to prepare plans for entrenchments to prevent a hostile landing on the island of Key West.
Fort Taylor, with a brick and concrete scarp exposed toward the island, from which it is only 300 yards distant, cannot resist a landing,and is no better fitted to withstand bombardment than Fort Sumter. The burning woodwork of its barracks would soon drive out its garrison.
I add an approximate estimate of the United States forces on and