HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT Numbers 1, C. S. A., New Orleans, La., November 19, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:
DEAR SIR: Since my last communication we have steadily progressed in our preparations for defense. Six tons of powder have been made, and distributed to the various works in due proportion. I have increased the armament of Fort Pike by four 42-pounders, Fort Macomb with four 42s and one 8-inch shell gun, Fort Livington with one 8-inch columbiad, and Forts jackson and Saint Philip with six 42-pounders each. The raft in the river between the last-named forts has been further secured by four anchors of 3,000 pounds each and fastened by heavy chains to either shore, and I think will stop a fleet under the close fire of more than 100 heavy huns (with Commodore Hollins' assistance about 150). Feeling satisfied that ships under steam can pass forts in an open channel, I am taking prompt measures to obstruct the passage at Forts Pike and Macomb, at Berwick Bay, and in the Mississippi above the city at a point where I shall concentrate the fire of 50 guns of heavy caliber.
I have ordered the Marine Hospital to be fitted up for army use by the quartermaster. On inquiry I found that we could not rent a hospital for less than $3,000 per annum, and it would cost half as much more to fit it up. The sum of these rents laid out on the hospital will enable it to answer all purposes, and the improvements will belong to the Government. Nothing will be lost in rent.
We shall have in operation in a few days three powder mills, two of which are private property and one belongs to the city. They will turn out more than 3 tons per day. The powder is proved, and rejected if much under range. We will want all the saltpeter that can be had, as we will be able to work up about 3 tons a day. Permit me to call your attention to the necessity of a telegraph line between Meridian and Mobile; also between Meridian and Montgomery. The line hence to Mobile runs along the coast, and can be cut at any time by a force from the enemy's fleet, to say nothing of the largely disaffected population on the southern coast of Mississippi. I inclose you a letter received from Mr.k Douglas on this subject.* It requires immediate attention.
General Pillow telegraphed me to send him 5,000 men to Columbus. This I declined, as I have no more than are necessary for the defense of New Orleans and its approaches. If the river had been obstructed above, so as to prevent a fleet from passing down, I might have felt justified in giving him some assistance, but I should have attached more weight to the call if it had come from General Johnston.
I regret that I cannot have some columbiads and mortars in addition to my present armament. Some of the detached companies, transferred from the State service under General Twigg's orders, have become much reduced and disorganized by bad management and poor officers, and I should wish to have power to disband some and consolidate others, so as to make the force more effective; also authority, under your sanction, to discharge men in certain cases of hardship, family affliction, or where they are required for important work-as, for instance, some cases of widows' only sons, or where parents have died since entry into service, or where they are required in for underlies or workshops were Government work is being done. I should exercise such authority very sparingly, and only i cases were I feel satisfied you would approve.
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