use of them as will render their services available. I have appointed Lieutenant Charles S. Palmer, Ninth Connecticut Volunteers, acting assistant quartermaster, and Adjutant Hall, of the same regiment, aide-decamp and acting assistant adjutant-general.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant.
J. W. PHELPS,
SHIP ISLAND, MISS., March 12, 1862.
General LORENZO THOMAS,
Adjutant-General, Washington, D. C.:
SIR: Since closing my letter this morning the Idaho has got off by her own efforts; how much of her cargo will prove a loss I have not yet ascertained. The steamer Constitution arrived this afternoon, with three regiments on board, under the command of General Williams. A rumor is current here that since the evacuation of Columbus the rebels are falling back upon New Orleans, with a view to its defense, and that troops have been called away from Pensacola for that purpose. If so, and we could get possession of the month of Red River and of a point in the line of communication between the city and Texas, the rebel forces would probably be reduced to great straits for the want of provisions.
The inconvenience attending a variety of calibers in our fire-arms is beginning to be felt. We have some of the caliber of 58 and others of the caliber of 54; for the latter caliber there should be a greater number of rounds than we have on hand here.
I regret thana the elements of an organized expedition do not appear to be as far advanced as they should be. The Government party in this region must be assured of a strong, firm power to back them before they will decide in our favor; and it appears to me to be time to set our civil coats in operation, for they are the only power can strike the traitors with wholesome dread. If the law does not assert its dignity admit the arms that are raised for its defense, it will never do so. All our victories will prove useless unless the law is vindicated. Rebellions will occur as often as whirlwind of a summer's day if defeats at arms are the only penalties to be incurred thereby. One execution at the right time and place would do more towards checking the rebellion than would whole holocausts upon the field of battle. The law has been disparaged and emasculated for many years, and if does not arise in its majesty and wield the sword before war lays it down, it will never wield it under our present form of government. A victories popular party would be prone to forget the wholesome severities of the law in the congratulations of success when their arms were once laid down.
I would be permitted to state once more that I have received no communication from headquarters covering the period of our stay here-going on four months-and only two of official character from the seat of Government. They are from the Light-House Board. So far as this silence may imply confidence in me I shall strive to merit, but it would not be out place to let an officer have some knowledge of what he is to do or else the means of deciding for himself.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. W. PHELPS,