Numbers 1. Reports of Colonel Harvey Brown, Fifth U. S. Artillery, Commanding Department of Florida.
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF FLORIDA,
Fort Pickens, November 25, 1861.
GENERAL: That Fort Pickens has been beleaguered by the rebels for the last nine months, and that it was daily threatened by the boasting rebels with the fate of Sumter, is a fact notorious to the whole world. Since its occupancy by Lieutenant Slemmer the rebels have been surrounding it with batteries and ally arming them with the heaviest and most efficient guns known to our service-guns stolen from us-until they considered this fort as virtually their own, its occupancy being only a question of time. I have been in command since the 16th of April, and during the whole of that time their force has averaged, so far as I can learn, from eight to ten times the number efficiently trying, and I have at three separate times intended to re myself from it by opening my batteries on them; but imperious circumstances, over which I had no control, have unexpectedly in each instance prevented.
Affairs were in this state on the morning of the 9th of October, when the enemy, 1,500 strong, attacked by surprise a portion of my command on an intensely dark night. They were defeated and driven from the island with great loss by less than 200 regulars and 50 volunteers, all the efficient force I had disposable for the purpose. An insult so gross to the flag of my country could not by me be passed unnoticed, and I designed immediately to take appropriate notice of it, but, as I said before, circumstances over which I had no control prevented. I make these prefatory remarks to explain why I have now opened my batteries on the enemy, when from the smallness of my forces-about one-sixth of his, 1,300 to 8,000-I have not the means of producing any decisive results, and as evidence of my having accomplished what I designed-the punishing the perpetrators of an insult on my country's flag.
Having invited Flag-Officer McKean to co-operate with me in attacking the rebels, and to which he gave a ready and cordial assent, I on the morning of the 22nd opened my batteries on the enemy, to which in the course of half an hour he responded from his numerous forts and batteries, extending from the navy-yard to Fort McRee, a distance of about 4 miles, the whole nearly equidistant from this fort, and on which line he has two forts, McRee and Barrancas, and fourteen separate batteries, containing from one to four guns, many of them being 10-inch columbiads and some 12 and 13 inch sea-coast mortars, the distance varying from 2,100 to 2,900 yards from this fort. At the same time of my opening Flag-Officer McKean, in the Niagara, and Captain Ellison, in the Richmond, took position as near to Fort McRee as the depth of water would permit, but which, unfortunately, was not sufficiently deep to give full effect to their powerful batteries. They, however, kept up a spirited fire on the fort and adjacent batteries during the whole day. My fire was incessant from the time of opening until it was too dark to see, at the rate of a shot for each gun every fifteen or twenty minutes, the fire of the enemy being somewhat slower. By noon the guns of Fort McRee were all silenced but one, and three hours before sunset this fort and the adjoining battery ceased to fire. I directed the guns of Batteries Lincoln, Cameron, and Totten principally