War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0696 OPERATIONS IN W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., AND LA. Chapter XVI.

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may be occupied by the forces under Major General B. F. Butler, U. S. Volunteers. The headquarters for the present will be movable, wherever the general commanding may be.

By command of Major-General McClellan:

L. THOMAS,

Adjutant-General.

SHIP ISLAND, MISS., March 9, 1862.

General LORENZO THOMAS,

Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.:

SIR: The Fourteenth Maine, six companies of the Thirteenth Maine, and the Twelfth Connecticut arrived yesterday. Other vessels are in sight to-day, and probably with troops. The ship Idaho, containing the men of several batteries, has run aground, and we are trying to get her off. The force now here is made up as follows, viz: The Twenty-sixth Massachusetts, the Eastern Bay State Regiment, the Ninth and Twelfth Connecticut, the Twelfth and Fourteenth Maine, and six companies of the Thirteenth; Read's Second Massachusetts Cavalry (three companies), and Manning's battery, besides the troops on the Idalho, not yet landed; in all, some 6,500 men. It is rather late in the season to assemble so large a boldly of raw troops on such a spot as this, and it appears to me desirable that suitable transportation for its transference to some other point should be furnished as soon as possible. The British forces in their attack on New Orleans left here, if I am not mistaken, before the month of January.

Some days since a party from this command went over to Biloxi and examined the ground there. It is out of the way and not desirable for a military station. Another party went over yesterday to a point nearer Mississippi City. The wharf there is some 3,000 feet or more in length, of a light structure, and has been partly broken up. The reconnoitering party(about 100 men) went but a short distance from the wharf, and were fired upon from artillery. Returning to their boat (the steam gunboat Calhoun, taken from the enemy) the enemy's shots were replied to by three rounds from the boat. The number of troops there is probably not very considerable; the location would be better for a camp than this is. There are 9 feet of water at the end of the wharf. I wished to send back there to-day to make a further examination, but both of our steam lighters are broken down and the Calhoun is employed in getting off the Idaho.

It si useless for a force to attempt to do anything here without suitable transportation, and we need it now, if for nothing more than to procure room for the troops. It appears to me that the enemy at this moment ought to be kept in a state of alarm throughout this entire approach by the Rigolets and Lake Borgne to New Orleans, but it is seldom that a gunboat goes far in that direction. The superficies of that part of the island which si occupied by the troops is about one-half of a square mile, and at times nearly one-half of that, if not quite, is under water. Limits so narrow render the desired military instruction impracticable, and yet without that instruction we should be subject to external influences, as of the weather, the season, political demonstration, military necessity, &c., rather than be free to make our movements from inherent force. We should be in the dangerous condition of submitting to controlling influences ourselves, as all military bodies ought to do. To be the slave instead od the master of circumstances is not to promise much for any kind of measures, and least of all for military measures.