War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0467 Chapter XVI. OCCUPATION OF SHIP ISLAND, MISS.

Search Civil War Official Records

Deeming it proper to make known to the people of this region the remoter objects of this expedition, I have prepared a proclamation, which consistent with the more pressing demands of the service.*

December 6.-The work upon the fort would require the superintendence of a military engineer. For present purposes the walls now standwork of solid foundation and three tiers of guns might be necessary. It might be well for the present to have three Sawyer's mounted outside the work, on entire traverse circles, to be covered by sand bags. For this purpose suitable platforms will be needed. I have to-day, in accordance with my instructions, held an interview with Captain Smith, of the Smith thinks that there is water enough on the island and in the vicinity to supply gunboats and other vessels of the station, although procuring it will be slow and difficult. He says that the flag-officer has ordered more guns for the fort, and that they are daily expected. He suggests that there should be a coal depot established here on the island, and that a regular team packet should ply between the island and Fort Monroe, Va., or some other Northern port. He also proposes the occupation of other points upon the islands along the sound, with a view to the more complete cutting off of communication between New Orleans and Mobile, which has been to a great extent unimpeded from the want of proper gunboats and sufficient force. He, moreover, suggests a plan of deriving piles across several of the mouth of the Mississippi, leaving but one open.

The discharging of the cargo of the Constitution is still going on by means of the two steamers before mentioned and a temporary wharf. The wind since our arrival has prevailed from north of east, and the water last night rose to such a height that a considerable portion of the island between the fort and light-house was overflowed, leaving a thin sheet of water here; an event which I am informed is not infrequent. The narrow strip of sand, about a quarter or third of a mile in width, which forms the western extremity of the island, is but ill-suited for a camp, either regulars or volunteers.

The Connecticut regiment (the Ninth) has never yet received its arms, nor is it supplied with a proper allowance of tents. It is new, and as spades, shovels, axes, camp hatchets, carpenters' and masons' tools, a large supply, I understand from Captain Butler, has been ordered, and they will probably be needed.

This afternoon a dispatch from Flag-Officer McKean has arrived by the De Soto, by which I learn that he will soon be here, and make this point his headquarters.

On board the New London, Captain Reed, I have visited the eastern extremity of the island; the part that lies beyond the lagoon. There is space sufficient there for 5,000 men, but the land is so interspersed with marshes that I consider a camp there for that number to be out of the question. The water along the northern shore for some distance is so shallow that our row-boats dragged bottom. The beach is lined by a ridge of sand hummocks some 10 feet in height, but beyond these the land is generally low, and overfed with pines, scrub oak, scrub palmetto, and marsh grass in patches. Mosquitoes would be troublesome there at all seasons, and in rainy weather much of the ground would be under

---------------

*Proclamation not found.

---------------