Tallahassee, Fla., October 29, 1861.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President C. S. A.:
SIR: On the 28th instant I addressed a letter to the Honorable J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of War, in which I invited his attention and requested him to call the attention of your excellency to the extract made from a letter of Colonel J. Patton Anderson, First Florida Regiment, relative to members of his regiment being made prisoners "while standing as a safeguard over the enemy's hospital to prevent it from sharing the fate of the balance of the camp."
Permit me, sir, with all due respect, to invite such demand on the part of your excellency as the laws of nations will sustain for the honorable release of all the prisoners, and especially those from Florida, captured under these circumstances; but, should the enemy be insensible to such demand, then, that in any exchange of prisoners which may be made, the prisoners thus taken may be among the first exchanged.
October 30. - I had the honor to receive your highly-esteemed favor of the 25th,* and avail myself of the courteous invitation to a free correspondence.
The extent of our coast and its character are easily ascertained by maps and coast surveys, but a personal acquaintance with the localities, settled portions of the State and mixed character of the population would be requisite to a just appreciation of our exposed position in the present war. My opinion has been and is yet, that if General Scott, as the Commander-in-Chief of the United States troops, with full powers to direct their movements, really desired the subjugation of the South, of which I have no doubt, and had possessed the distinguished qualities of a soldier which have been ascribed to him, with the least intelligence as a statesman as to causes and effects, the conquest of Florida would have been promptly made. Virginia would not have been disturbed. The conquest of Florida, as one of the seven States, would have had a powerful influence upon foreign nations, an inspiring effect upon the minds of his troops and of the citizens and Government of the United States, and formed a basis for future operations which would have checked Virginia and other States that have not seceded, and dispirited many in the seceded States who apprehended with fear and trembling the consequences of a change of government. The fate of the South would have been hair-hung. But, is if God mercy permitted General Scott's madness and folly, every movement he made but gave strength and vigor to our cause. As it is, unable to conquer any other States, may not Florida claim their attention? With our feebleness they are well acquainted through traitors, some of whom yet remain among us.
Independent of the force at and about Pensacola there are no troops by proper authority in Confederate service except the Third and what is termed the Fourth Regiments, and such companies of cavalry as have been received. The Third Regiment, commanded by Colonel W. S. Dilworth, a civilian, is scattered from Fernandina to the mouth of the Saint John's River and Saint Augustine, and, if I am correctly informed, is in a deplorable condition. I presume there is not a field officer attached to it, unless it may be Major Church, at Saint Augustine, of