Fort McRee takes in reverse one more important battery, which is exposed front, flank, and rear to heavy and numerous guns (Plan D).* I have no apprehensions whatever of an attack by escalate, by the able assistance of Major Tower, I shall be so protected from bombardment as, I hope, to be able to hold the fort a long time.
A man presented himself a few nights since to one of my sentinels, pretending to be a Northern man and a reported of a newspaper. He brought us valuable information, and thinking his safety might be jeopardized if he returned, I sent him on board the Powhatan. Captain Porter suspected him, and there is but little doubts of his being a Southerner and a spy, as the inclosed letter, marked A, will show. He tore the original up, and scattered the fragments in a spit-box. Captain Porter had them collected and pasted together. Two days afterwards a constable or sheriff came over, under a flag, with a warrant against him for theft. I dismissed him without any name.
My command continues comparatively healthy, although the men are worked hard. In the hurry and confusion of our sudden departure from New York, articles of the first importance, which had been prepared and ready to go on board ship, were left behind, and others of little importance shipped; among the former, some 8 or 10 inch shells, which, as reported to me, were in a lighter alongside the Atlantic, and yet not taken on board. A special request to have them put on board the Illinois was also neglected, and not one of the former came. I have by borrowing of the Navy obtained enough of the latter for immediate service, and one hundred of the former, so that I have now 150-not enough for one day's continuous firing. there are a great many guns in the fort, most of them from want of shell useless. There are twelve 32 or 42 pounder rifled guns. With a full supply of elongated balls [they] would be of inestimable value, and I earnestly hope that some of this kind are, in compliance with my former requisition, now on the way here, as also four sea-coast 10-inch mortars, and the 8 and 10 inch shells which were left behind. The 10-inch siege mortars will barely reach the navy-yard, and will not be so efficient as they should be, though I hope with the maximum charges to render them effective. I have a battery of two mortars in the ditch, and am now building another about half a mile from the first, where I also propose to erect a battery of heavy guns, if the enemy gives us time and I can get them.
I am no further enlightened than when I last wrote on the cause of delay in their opening on us. Every day makes me feel more secure of making an efficient defense, and in a very few days my defensive preparations will be complete. I learn from several sources that the Montgomery and Pensacola Railroad is not finished by eight miles, and that they have two bridges yet to build.
Having received unofficial information that the President has issued a proclamation blockading the ports of the seceding States, I requested a conference with Captain Adams, commanding the naval forces, and asked him if he would not feel himself authorized to anticipate its official reception. having also heard that a vessel loaded with an Armstrong gun and ammunition is on her way here from Charleston, I asked the captain if he would examine vessels entering the port, and stop such as have articles contraband of war. He said that his orders were to act strictly on the defensive; that a sufficient time has elapsed since the date of the proclamation for him to have received official notice of
26 R R