at a point commanding two bayous, admitting only vessels of light draught of water, and consequently of much less importance than Fort Berwick. The armament is two 24-pounder pivot guns. The ammunition consists of 90 24-pounder cartridges, 193 shot, 30 charges of canister, and 3,000 musket cartridges. The garrison consists of one company of infantry.
My next visit was to Shell Island, which is 15 miles from Brashear City, and is at the junction of the main channel of the Atchafalaya River and Shell Island Bayou. The depth, as I was informed, of the former is 9 feet on the bar at high water and never less than 7 feet; and of the latter 6 feet on the bar at high water and never less than 4 feet.
Shell Island, as its name would indicate, is composed of shells, but only in part, raised about 2 to 3 feet above high-water mark. In the rear is an impenetrable marsh, but on its front, and facing Atchafalaya River and Shell Bayou, is a shell bank, extending 400 yards in length by 60 in depth.
I am of opinion that a strong fort ought as soon as possible to be constructed upon Shell Island, commanding, as it does, the most important channel to Berwick Bay, the main channel of the Atchafalaya River at this point being only about one-quarter of a mile wide, and consequently easily commanded by a battery. In urging the establishment of a fort on Shell Island.
A fort situated upon Shell Island ought not to contain less than ten guns, some of heavy caliber. I am informed that the planters in the section of country will furnish any number of hands few works of defense.
I would also call your attention to the companies composing the garrisons of Forts Berwick and Chene. They are infantry, some of which, especially in Fort Berwick, are but imperfectly acquainted with the musket exercise, while all, both officers and men, are entirely ignorant of the management of heavy artillery. A competent instructor of artillery is a most pressing necessity.
The great number of fisherman, or men of doubtful avocations, who reside in the numerous bayous, quite out of reach of the forts, renders a coast guard necessary. The steamer Mobile, which is now being altered into a gunboat, will not be ready for two weeks, and I would recommend the employment in the mean time of Captain Carr's steamer, the Teazer, and which, being of light draught of water, could act as a tender to the Mobile, and render effective service in clearing the bayous of all such as may be rendering aid and comfort to the enemy. I would also urge the employment of Captain Carr upon this service, for which his intimate knowledge of Berwick Bay and its bayous make him so well fitted.
The commanders of the forts-have represented to me the necessity, to the proper carrying out of their duty in preventing the passage of small craft, that they each be supplied with a 6 or 8 oared barge, the small boats they are at present using loaned them by citizens.
In laying before you the foregoing result of my examination of the means of defense at Berwick Bay, permit me to again call you attention to the serious results that would arise from this point falling into the hands of the enemy. We should be completely cut off from the valuable supply of cattle from Texas, while 60,000 barrels of coal, which is an article of almost incalculable advantage to the enemy's shipping, would
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