HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF FLORIDA,
Fort Pickens, May 19, 1861.
Lieutenant Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General:
COLONEL: Since my letter of the 13th nothing of special interest has occurred. We have continued to be busily at work preparing for hostilities, and, although much retarded and delayed by the want of essentially necessary articles which should have been sent, we are now very nearly prepared. Yesterday the schooner J. N. Genin arrived and relieved me from great anxiety, having brought me, besides three columbiads, a supply of 8 and 10 inch shells and of 42-pounder shot, of which I was very much in want. Major Tower estimated for 100,000 sand bags in February or March, and no notice has been taken, that we know, of his requisition, although the safety of this fort and the lives of many of the garrison depended on our getting them or some others. Fortunately, we have been able to get partially supplied by our own exertions, or this fort would now be in no condition to stand a bombardment. We are now again nearly out. I have finished the battery north of the fort, and have now mounted on it and ready for service four 8-inch howitzers and two 10-inch siege mortars. The distance of the battery from the navy-yard is one and a quarter miles, so that these guns will barely reach; but they are the best I have, and I think I can thrown shells from both into the yard. Between this battery and the fort I am erecting another for two 10-inch columbiads. It will be ready for the guns in four or five days. The guns are still on board the schooner, the wind having blown so high as to make it impossible to land them.
Having to detach two companies for watching the approaches to the fort and to prevent the enemy landing, and Barry's company having charge of the new battery (which I call Battery Lincoln), I have not force enough to man the guns and do the necessary garrison duty. I have therefore asked a steamer of Captain Adams to go to Key West and bring Jones' company of artillery here. She leaves in the morning, and carries this letter.
I respectfully renew the request and recommendations contained in my former letters.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major, Second Artillery, Colonel Commanding.
UNION DEFENSE COMMITTEE,
New York, May 21, 1861.
Honorable SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War, Washington:
DEAR SIR: The chairman of our executive committee, Mr. S. Draper, informs me that he has sent you this morning a telegram representing the necessity of sending a number of rifled cannot to Fort Pickens.
As chairman of the sub-committee having charge of purchases of arms and ammunition for the Union Defense Committee, I beg leave to endorse fully Mr. Draper's telegram, and to state that the requisite number of guns, or a portion of them, can be procured here, and that they should be forwarded by the United States transport to sail for Fort Pickens on Friday, the 24th instant. Any directions you may be pleased to give on this subject will be promptly attended to by our committee.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. J. ASTOR, JR.,
Chairman Committee on Purchase of Arms and Ammunition.