War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0736 OPERATIONS IN W. FLA., S. ALA., S. MISS., AND LA.

Search Civil War Official Records

[CHAP. XVI.

the occupation of Ship Island was understood to have been directed by the President of the Confederate States. The necessity that existed then for its occupation exists, as far as I am aware of, now, and I do not perceive how, under this condition of things, its abandonment can be determined upon without the express authority of the President himself. Should it be decided to vacate the island, then the proper defense of the sound is a question to be taken in connection with the gunboat force that is or will be available.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

M. L. SMITH,

Major of Engineers.

HDQRS. FIRST DIV. LOUISIANA VOLUNTEER INFANTRY,

New Orleans, La., September 12, 1861.

Major General DAVID LE. TWIGS,

Commanding Department Numbers 1, C. S. Army:

GENERAL: In accordance with the wish expressed by you verbally, on the 9th instant (the day I visited you at your house), that I should proceed to Berwick Bay and examine the fortifications and other means of defense that could be made available in the event of an attack upon that place, I proceeded thither the next morning, accompanied by three of my staff, Majors Farish, Hyllested, and Fago. During my journey on the Opelousas Railroad I had every possible assistance from the gentlemen in the employment of the company, and, upon arriving at my destination, each seemed to vie with the other in the desire to afford me information. To Captain Carr my thanks are particularly due for the handsome and generous manner in which he placed not only his steamer, the Sigle, but his own valuable services as a pilot, at my disposal.

Immediately after my arrival I proceed to inspect Forts Berwick and Chene. Fort Berwick is situated about 4 miles from Brashear City, at the junction of Wax Bayou and the Atchafalaya River. The depth of water on the bar of Wax Bayou, as I was informed, is about 7 feet. The fort is a common earthen one, quadrangular in shape, with earthen parapets 5 feet high on three sides, the rear being protected only by palisades about 7 feet high, loop-holed for musketry, the whole surrounded by a moat about 6 feet wide in front and 3 feet in the rear. On the front face two 24-pounder pivot guns are mounted, which command the outlet of Was Bayou, where boats of only very light draught can be used, but which would be of little avail in protecting the Atchafalaya.

To render Fort Berwick capable of resisting only a moderate force the parapets would require strengthening. The magazine also requires protection, which can be done by covering the same with earth to the thickness of several feet. I would recommend three additional guns being sent to Fort Berwick, to arm the right and left parapets, which are at present defenseless; also a light gun (9 or 12 pounder) to aid in protecting the rear, which is open to attack by a land force.

The ammunition consists of 21 24-pounder cartridges, 200 shot, and 4,000 musket-ball cartridges. Rammers, port-fires, primers, and flannel for cartridges and swabs are much needed; but I do not enter into the particulars, as I am assured a list has already been furnished by the officer in command. The garrison consists of two companies, one of infantry and one of sappeers and miners.

Fort Chene is in all respects a counterpart of Fort Berwick, situated