A step that is taken from impulsion cannot be otherwise than a stumbling one.
Had these troops arrived two months ago we might have gained some confidence and coherence by this time. No effort, however, shall be spared to render them effective. New Orleans appears to me to be a proper point to strike at. It is the center of the conspiracy. The perversity of Charleston, the pride of Richmond, and the honesty of the people along the Alleghanies have alike been made subordinate to the combinations of the conspirator there. New Orleans, the seat of the conspiracy, must have less respect for their work than any other quarter of the country. A few gunboats can reach the city from above by the river, even if we could not from this point. I can form no plan, for I have no means of executing one.
MARCH 11, 1862.
The several batteries which have arrived (four in all) have but a very few pieces of artillery among them, no harness, and hardly enough horses for one battery. With a volunteer force like this both artillery and engineering are likely to be necessary, and for the latter purpose we have a wholly inadequate supply of entrenching tools. The Navy seem to be making some preparations to ascend the river toward New Orleans, and if they expect to be backed by a land force in that direction, as they doubtless will, such tools will be indispensable. The forwardness of the season, the rawness of the troops, and the absence of means to render them efficient are calculated to fill one with concern. The fleet of mortar boats have been arriving to-day and will probably soon proceeded to their destination. A party of machinists have also arrived, with a building and machinery for establishing a machina-shops, which numerous breakages in our gunboats render necessary. The materials for Lieutenant Palfrey's work on the fort are also beginning to arrive. I am sorry to state that the Idaho is not yet got off, notwithstanding all the favoring efforts of steam-tugging, light steering, and extraordinarily high tides. She has thrown over a part of her cargo, chiefly provisions, of which our supply is not very considerable. There is something so remarkable in her running aground and in her conduct since, that I have appointed a board of surgery of officers of rank to examine into it. A small lantern is kept burning in the light-house during the night, which may be announced, if thought necessary. The enemy's gunboats have not made their appearance for some time.
I have omitted no opportunity to write to you when I have thought that may communications might contain matters of interest. I have received no communications in return. Paymasters Watson and Locke have been engaged paying the troops for some time. They have probably met with some difficulties in deciding upon several cases, but they have presented others which might have been settled at the seat of Government before setting out on their tour. By and with my decision they are paying the men from the date of enrollment, and are including the 28th day of February, which I doubt not will be satisfactory to the Department. Other troops here cannot be paid at this time, but I am in hopes that funds will be sent as soon after the next muster as practicable.
The Eastern Bay States Regiment has been borough together with some degree of irregularity, and it contains a certain number of men who are not physically qualified for the proper performance of their duty. They should be discharged from the service, but I have neither time nor authority to attend to it. I shall in the mean time make such