FEBRUARY 15, 1862.
A norther interferes with the coating of the Constitution, so that she will not get as early as I wish. She is a rather expensive transport unless there is constant and pressing employment for her. As several vessels laden with coal have arrived here recently from Philadelphia, I have thought it better for her to coal here than to stop at the Havana.
The flag-ship Niagara has arrived at her station to-day, but the mail of the Pensacola has not yet reached us.
In referring again to the subject of staff officers, I would expires my regret that those whom I selected were not allowed to report to me. They were but two, whom, as aides-de-camp, I would have employed as adjutant-general and quartermaster or commissary. In their stead it is not unreasonable that I should request the service of one quartermaster, one commissary, and one adjutant-general. To have such agents, however, selected for an officer instead of by him is so contrary to the nature of the case, that I would prefer that my original request might be recoin sidered. It will be readily perceived that at a station like this the services of a quartermaster are needed.
I need not say, perhaps, that a person of questionable loyalty would by worse than useless-a mere hinderance in the way of business that he should advance.
I shall send together with this communication some estimates for clothing, &c., among which are requisitions for medicines, made out by the surgeons of regiments. There is no brigade surgeon present, and the battery and a squadron of cavalry, numbering some 260 men, have no medical attendance of their own.
FEBRUARY 17, 1862.
The Constitution is still delayed by an extraordinary storm of rain and forge from the southwest. At a late moment I have received from among her freight a box of blanks, including muster rolls, which will be all that I shall need for the present.
I have concluded to allow Lieutenant Salla, of the Fourth Battery Massachusetts Volunteers, to go to Boston, such services as he can render not being particularly required here. His name was not borne on the original muster roll of the battery, and he shows no commission.
I do not see the necessity of such irregular appointments.
The Constitution I hope will get to sea to-day.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. W. PHELPS,
WASHINGTON, February 15, 1862.
General GEORGE B. McCLELLAN:
DEAR GENERAL: Touching our conversation yesterday, I make a few remarks suggested by further thought. As to New Orleans, my estimate was made before I had seen any proposition from any quarter as to land or naval forces. For the former I think (using that number there) 20,000 is an ample number, and I would not hesitate to go with 15,000, if it was difficult to supply the greater number. Horse artillery and cavalry in very small proportions only. One thing I would suggest as to the naval preparations, prompted by the fact that Goldsborough sends word he has consumed his ammunition and cannot make another operation