Further, Saint Mark's is being fortified, and an aggressive preparation is going on upon the west coast of Florida to act upon the right flank of the line of communications between this base and Fort Pickens.
The Salvor is now at Havana. On here return I will seize her. Her owner will not sell. Captain Craven I will request to put a crew in. Soldiers and guns will be provided by myself, and she will be convoy and a towboat at the same time.
Captain Hartstene also said that Bragg had no idea of attacking Pickens, but was diverting the U. S. troops. The weight to be attached to this you have better opportunity of judging than myself.
This not is written just as the mail closes, and the few facts presented are worthy of confederation.
I have no fear about this island, and am constantly on the alert. For an expedition I can raise fifty men (citizens), whose desperate character and remembrance of wrong would bear hard upon any point of the coast or the mainland. I believe this demonstration was anticipated by me in a former communication.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. FRENCH,
Brevet Major, Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF FLORIDA,
Fort Pickens, June 14, 1861.
Lieutenant Colonel E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant-General:
COLONEL: I have been kept in such entire ignorance as to the future designs and intention of the Government respecting operations here, and whether any further are designed than the mere holding of this fort, that I have not felt at liberty to give any views on any subject apart from those relating to the fort. There is, however, one of so much importance in my estimation as to warrant my respectfully submitting it to the consideration of the Government. The weather is now intensely hot, and will probably soon be to men of Northern constitutions exposed to the miasma of the swamps very unhealthy. I would not, therefore, thrown any large body of troops here until after the September gales are over. If then it is intended to operate offensively, and to repossess ourselves of the fort and navy-yard, the preoccupancy of the harbor is almost indispensably necessary.
The rebel batteries are so numerous, so strong, and so advantageously situated as, in my opinion, to preclude the entrance of large ships, except at an immense cost of life and property, and there is, too, a strong probability that vessels to obstruct the channel are sunk between this fort and McRee, and the dry-dock also lies across the channel between here and the navy-yard. I do not, however, consider it as a serious obstacle, the water being deep on both sides of it. Their entrance in the harbor being, as I conceive, out of the question, I would as a substitute use steam gunboats of light draught of water-say of four and a half feet-each carrying two or three rifled guns, and strongly armed. There are two ways by which boats of this character may be introduced into the harbor: 1st, through the main entrance, by hugging closely the island shore, and taking a dark and cloudy night for the purpose; and 2nd, and perhaps preferably, through the channel at the east end of the island. This is long and somewhat intricate, but I am told that six feet of water can be carried through it, and that many of our Navy officers are acquainted with it. That such boats as I propose can be carried