all the important points in the State, or to obtain guns to place Cumberland Harbor out of the reach of capture, I had previously authorized General Trapier to withdraw the troops and guns from that point, and to apply them to other vital portions of the State. This is the only course now left to supply means for defending it. I have also authorized him to withdraw generally from the islands to the main; the only way, in my opinion, successfully to resist the large force that can be brought against us by the enemy, and to deprive him of the benefit derived from his fleet and heavy floating batteries.
In reference to the cargo landing from the steamer Carolina, its disposition has been made by the War Department at Richmond, which will go but a little way in supplying the urgent demands of the service. It is now impossible to arm troops entering the service for the war. I consider it therefore useless for troops entering the service for a less period to expect arms from the Government. If regiments can be raised in Florida for the war (the only period, in my opinion, for which they ought to be accepted), I will endeavor to procure arms for them.
It will be necessary for the citizens of Florida to turn out to a man to defend their homes, and the sooner your excellency can impress upon them this fact, the easier will be its accomplishment. Troops cannot now be drawn from other States for this purpose. Every State is looking to the protection of her own borders and providing the regiments, to be placed under the command of General Trapier, for the purpose of preventing an advance of the enemy through Florida into the southwest portion of Georgia.
I am, &c.,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS, Savannah, Ga., March 1, 1862.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
SIR: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 24th February, in reference to withdrawing the forces from the sea-coast of Florida, and have directed General Trapier accordingly. By telegraph he has been directed to send Colonel Dowd's Twenty-third Mississippi Regiment immediately to Tennessee, to report to General A. S. Johnston. On the 19th ultimo he was directed by telegraph to send Colonel Davis' regiment of cavalry from Florida to Chattanooga, to report to General A. S. Johnston. As soon as Amelia Island has been evacuated, the public property secured from there and other points along the seaboard, troops not necessary to prevent the enemy from penetrating into the interior will be forwarded to General Johnston.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
RICHMOND, VA., March 2, 1862.
General R. E. LEE,
If circumstances will, in your judgment, warrant your leaving, I wish to see you here with the least delay.