HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF FLORIDA,
Fort Pickens, May 25, 1861.
Captain W. W. McKEAN, Commanding Naval Forces off Pensacola:
SIR: I have just received a letter from Captain Adams, commanding the ship Sabine, stating that the ship just arrived is the Niagara, Captain McKean. She has been ordered down here to blockade Mobile and the mouth of the Mississippi, and will require the Brooklyn and Powhatan, or perhaps this ship, to assist her. These vessels will sail this evening. I respectfully represent to you that the taking away these ships will jeopardize the safety of this fort. The force of the enemy on the other side of the harbor is represented to be from 8,000 to 10,000. My force for duty is a little less than 700, exclusive of marines and sailors; so that if the ships are taken away I cannot prevent a landing of the enemy on Santa Rosa Island, their making a permanent lodgment here, and subsequent approaches on this fort. The Sabine might be spared in case of great emergency, but neither of the steamers should be taken away at this time without a more pressing urgency than that of the blockading Mobile Harbor. I therefore enter my solemn protest against the removal at this time of any of the steamships form this harbor, the safety and preservation of the fort imperiously demanding their continuance here. I inclose you the authority I have from the President of the United States to make this protest, the expedition named being the preservation of this fort, and I respectfully call on you in his name to assist me in preserving it, be keeping the ships in their present position.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. STEAM FRIGATE NIAGARA,
Off Pensacola, May 26, 1861.
Colonel HARVEY BROWN, U. S. Army,
Commanding Fort Pickens, Pensacola:
SIR: The steamer Huntsville arrived this morning. She is a fine vessel, mounting one 8-inch gun on a pivot, and two 32-pounder carriage guns, and has sufficient power to town a vessel of the largest size. I have ordered the sloop St. Louis here, and she may be looked for hourly. Do you not think that the Sabine and those vessels will be a sufficient force to prevent a landing of the rebels on the island? I am of opinion that it will, and as it is of vital importance that the port of Mobile should be blockaded before the arms are received, I am very anxious to proceed to that point. In the event of a threatened attack the Mohawk could be dispatched for me, and as the distance is short I could reach here in a few hours. Please let me hear from you by the bearer.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. W. McKEAN,
Captain, U. S. Navy.