Some definite plan should be adopted with reference to this point. Few of the officers of the Government are aware, perhaps, of the character of the island on which we are situated, or what it is to be amid glaring white sand during the heats of summer. If troops remain here they must have wooden structures for shelter, and even the they will need some protection for the eyes, I think. I would beg to be informed, at as a moment as may suit your convenience, whether there are any particular designs or not with respect to this point, or at least what direction I shall give to requisition for carrying out such designs as I may entertain of my own. As it is, we are threatened with a shortness of provisions, having but about three week's of some articles on hand. One of my instructions was to place the island in a state of defense, but I have not the means of rendering it as strong as I should desire. To this end there would be necessary a better class of guns and carriages, with a farce supply of bricks and mortar, pintles, traverse-circles, materials for a magazine, &c. The magazine ought to be of peculiar structure, perhaps made of iron, and strong enough when buried in sand to resist 11-inch shells. It should exclude the air as much as possible, for the climate is very damp. It should exclude the air as much as possible, for the climate is very damp. It would be good economy to have a general plan, embracing a long periods of time, and have everything done in accordance with it.
As I understand the policy of the Government with regard to this region it was to establish new sites for commercial centers in the place of New Orleans and Mobile, which were founded without any reference to cotton shipping and large vessels. As a war measure this could be done by the same means that would secure the most effective military operations, or, at all events, military points could be found, I think, which would threaten the trade of those two cities, and would have a great influence upon the security of slave property.
We now have 24 of the enemy's negroes, which we employ in lightening vessels at an unfixed rate of pay. They appear to be intelligent, and far more dignified and manly than many of their master, whom they look upon with mingled feelings of pithy and contempt as well as dread. Some of them crossed the sound to us, a distance of 10 or 11 miles. One of them came a night in a thunder gust, finding that more friendly than the sympathies of his master. One of the mulattoes came original from North Carolina, another from Virginia. They are aware of their alliance with race, and of the ties which have been snapped in their leaving home. They are ripe for manumission, and any measure to avert it may put off, but cannot long prevent, a revolution-a revolution of that kind where men are restored to their original rights.
In case that wooden structures should be put up upon the island for the two regiments and one battery now here, we should need some more lumber than we have on hand.
To take possession of a point on the main-land and hold it we should need more troops, I think, than a large force against us. We should also need some siege and garrison artillery and the shallow-draught boats I have alluded to in former communications.
In conclusion, permit me to call your attention to the main point of this letter, which is the necessity of some channel through which my wants in the due form of requisitions and the intentions of the Government can be made known. Clothing, and probably provisions, will be needed as soon as they can be got here.
I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. W. PHELPS,