particular manner of fortifying the island; second, the policy of occupying it at all.
On the first point the views expressed in the report are not concurred in.
First, I see no reason for abandoning a position inclosed by the heavy scarp wall of a regular for an building up the same height of wall of sand bags, the embrasures in both instances to be made alike. Again, it is not apparent to me that the labor required to protect a gun placed behind a wall capable of resisting shot can be less than if the same gun is placed on the open ground; hence, that a new work can be commence as suggested and sooner finished than the present one. The timber bomb-proofs rest upon low piers built upon the scarp wall, protected on the outside by sand bags, and upon piers run up from the ground in rear of the gun carriages. It but remains to inclose the rear of these timber casemates, as they may be termed, by piling up sand bags to the height of the brick piers, and we have not only a perfect bomb-proof, but a comfortable place for the soldiers, inasmuch as the roof above has designedly been made water-tight.
In regard to the use of sand bags, it may be remarked that their efficiency is of a temporary character, five and six weeks being sufficient for them to become so decayed as to admit of little or no staring being put upon them.
But it is proper to remark here that the work at Ship Island has progressed unusually slowly, and that much remains to be done. The engineer office here has not from the first had one single dollar at this disposal to expend there, and has not up to this day ever been able to get any funds. The few bills and laborers that have been paid the quartermaster department has provided for.
Owing to the impossibility of my being at the island after the first week of the occupancy, and there being no engineer officer to send, considerable work has been done having no special bearing upon the proper defense of the fort. This, under the circumstances, was doubtless unavoidable. The two guns remaining outside are the two rapidly pushed ashore under fire and mounted on our first arrival at the island, and bear so handsomely upon the entrance and sound that it has not been thought desirable to attempt their removal to the inside until more important work is finished.
In regard to the armament of the fort, I have but to remark that every available gun of any size has been send there.
In respect, then, to the defense of Ship Island, if it is ot be held, my opinion is decidedly in favor of continuing the occupation of the work, incomplete as it is, and for perfecting it s interior arrangements. I believe the garrison can be more readily sheltered there than elsewhere. The work is, to a certain extent, ready for an attack at any movement, and I regard it as less liable to be taken by an assaulting force, consequently stronger than a work of the same size as suggested in Colonel Duncan's report.
As to policy of attempting to hold Ship Island at all, my views were officially given in a communication dated May 16, 1861, and forwarded to Montgomery by the commanding officer of this department. In a subsequent one, dated May 25, a course to be perused to defend Mississippi Sound was recommended, and this also forwarded.
I have nothing to add to-day to reasoning and conclusions of those reports, which were essentially the same as those now submitted by Colonel Duncan, and should the enemy appear in force at any time within the next three weeks the relative positions of the combatants will be as there indicated. But notwithstanding the views then expressed,