War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0466 OPERATIONS IN W. FLA.,S. ALA.,S. MISS.,AND LA. Chapter XVI.

Search Civil War Official Records

and other officers of his command, aided by two high-pressure steamers which the Navy had recently captured. We found in the harbor on our arrival the United States was vessel Massachusetts and the R. R. Cuyler, besides several prizes; and not long afterwards the steam gunboat New London and an armed schooner, a part of the Gulf Blockading Squadron, came in.

Some six or more steam gunboats, if not drawing more than 6 or 7 feet, could be well employed here in stopping a considerable trade and in otherwise annoying the enemy. Without them the enemy's light-draught boas can pass in view between New Orleans and mobile with impunity. On no part of our coast could gunboats be better at this time employed. Upon the west end of the island a partially-finished for this occupied by about 170 sailors and marines, commanded by Lieutenant Buchanan, of the Navy, who has several Dahlgren large-caliber guns in position on navy carriages. The rebels, by whom the island was held several month, abandoned it in September last, and destroy nearly everything which they could not carry off. The fort and light-house, with keeper's lodgings, remain, the former unfinished and the latter injured to some extent by fire. The walls of the fort have been carried up to a sufficient height by the rebels to form nearly a tier of casemates, and partly covered over with some considerable mason work; and with material now on the ground, except lime, it might receive some twenty guns on casemate carriages. I would recommend that number, one-half or part Sawyer's 24-pounder rifles, the other half 8 or 10 inch columbiads. Traverse circles, traverse blocks of stone or wood, and iron pintles to hold the tongue of the chassis, would be necessary. A magazine would have to be constructed, for which more brick would be needed. For immediate use a large number of sand bags might not and other heavy materials, a large convenient wharf will be necessary, with some quarter or a half mile of railway, the iron for which, and perhaps the lumber, would have to be brought from the North, together with a pile-driver and other tools for construction; though perhaps timber partly enough might be found here.

The island is a long, narrow strip of land running north of east. Some 6 or 7 miles towards the west end, where the harbor lies, and where we are encamped, it consist of sand hummocks of pure white sand, interspersed with sedgy spots of water. IT bears evidence of having been overflowed in some extraordinary storms, large trunks of trees having differ on some of its higher hummocks. The east end widens out in a triangular shop, embracing about 1 square mile, and is covered with pine trees. I made an unsuccessful effort to have it examined on the day of our arrival, and regret having been too much occupied since to repeat it. From appearances, it would be well to have the camp there, with a wharf, and a small steamer to play between the two points. For the present, and to expedite the return of the Constitution, I concluded to land here, where I can place, though indifferently well, one or two more regiments. The land is in no respects suitable for a camp, especially in view of such instructions as one of the regiments present particularly needs. Should the stay here be of long continuance, huts with floors will be necessary.

While writing this reports I learn, much to my regret, that in transferring the baggage from the Constitution to the lighter one of Captain Manning's 6-pounder riled guns has been lost overboard in 4 fathoms of water. How such an unpleasant accident could have happened I have not yet been informed.