by way of complaint, for I know full well the difficulties and embarrassments which surround the Department, but simply to show how utterly impossible it is to check the enemy in his operations.
Night before last we succeeded in placing some serious obstructions in the channel between Fort Pickens and McRee, which will intimidate the fleet and seriously retard any movement to enter the harbor. It might be much more effectually blocked, but at a heavy expense, for the necessary vessels. The entrance, however, of steamers would entirely frustrate our movement on the island, if it did not result in a capture of our force.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
MONTGOMERY, May 10, 1861.
Honorable SECRETARY OF WAR:
Having had the honor to converse with you more than once touching the state of the public service in the State which I represent, I beg leave to present the following remarks:
There may be little doubt that in the war which is now inaugurated the enemy will not be unmindful of its vast preponderance of maritime power, and that at the same time that they press forward upon the land toward Virginia they will make a strong diversion along the Atlantic and in the Gulf. Beside the indications of their intentions at Pensacola and New Orleans, the sending out of privateers on the part of the South will be met by the North by other letters of marque, and having no commerce to prey upon they will be directed against our sea-coast and its property, and they will endeavor to ravage the sea islands of Georgia and South Carolina and the coast of Florida. The capital of the last-named State is in close proximity to the Gulf-twenty miles by railroad-and in the midst of the most dense negro population and the largest plantations in this State.
From Pensacola to Saint Augustine-fourteen hundred miles and more-there is nothing approaching to a fortification, except those as Key West and Tortugas, which are held by the foe, and are for them a convenient and illimitable naval depot. They are the keys of the Gulf.
To fortify this immense extent of coast is impossible. Want of time, want of money, want of engineers, want of heavy guns, all forbid it. Fortunately, the entrances for vessels of any seize are very few. They may be enumerated thus: Saint Andrew's, Saint Joseph's, Apalachicola, Saint Mark's, Cedar Keys, Tampa. Passing over the peninsula, Key West, and its dependencies, you come on the Atlantic coast to the mouth of the Saint John's or Jacksonville, and lastly Fernandina. Saint Augustine is fortified, though imperfectly armed. There are of cannon, of all kinds, in Florida:
At Saint Augustine: Four 32-pounders, mounted en barbette; four 8-inch sea-coast howitzers, not mounted; two 12-pounder mountain howitzers, and one brass 6-pounder field piece.
At mouth of Saint John's River there are four 32-pounders, mounted en barbette.
At Fernandina: Four 32-pounders, mounted en barbette.
At Cedar Keys: Two 32-pounders, mounted en barbette.
At Saint Mark's: Two 32-pounders, mounted en barbette.