You have so thoroughly and satisfactory preparated the defenses at the latter point that we scarcely believe another attempt will me made on your defenses, and we hope that by sending Kirby Smith to take your place, if you should leave, that important point will be successfully defended.
You see already that my purpose is to ask you if you would consent to go to the West. In that event General Johnston's command would be limited by the Mississippi River, giving him as much even then as he can efficiently attend to, and your command would embrace everything west of the Mississippi except the coast defenses. Your campaign would comprehend the States of Arkansas and Missouri, together with Northern Texas and the Indian Territory. General Price will probably be continued in the command of the Missouri troops when uttered into our service. Their number, of course, I cannot approximate, but we could scarcely have less than 20,000 or 25,000 men from that State. In Arkansas and the Indian Territory our forces amount to about 12,000. A number of other regiments are now nearly organized in Texas and Arkansas, and we would find means of arming two or three of the new regiments at Pensacola, and thus disengaging for your command the two best Mississippi regiments.
With all these resources, aided, of course, by our hearty and cordial co-operation, it seems to me that we may confidently look for brilliant results. If the tied of battle should turn towards the Mississippi River your operations would be conducted in concert with General Johnston's, and of course, in that event, he would rank you; but, unless in case of joint operations on the river, your command would be entirely independent, and such joint operations would only be undertaken by special order of the President or by your own concert with General Johnston.
Will you understate this work? I tell you frankly I believe you owe it to your country in this her hour of peril, but it will not be urged on you against your will. If we cannot now make available your name and reputation as a soldier, I confess I know not where else to look at this our army list, and under all the circumstances (many of which it is not possible to communicate in this letter) we invariably fell back on yours as the name. The circumstances are pressing. I could not say all that was important for your consideration by telegraph, but I must beg you, as soon as it is possible, to answer me by telegraph "I refuse," if such be your conclusion. If you say in reply, "I refuse," I must see what next best can be done.
I am, yours, very truly,
J. P. BENJAMIN.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT ALABAMA AND WEST FLORIDA, Mobile, Ala., December 29, 1861.
ADJUTANT-GENERAL C. S. ARMY,
SIR: An occurrence of the 27th instant at Fort Morgan illustrates the absolute necessity of the military commander here having control of the guard boats in the harbor. On the morning a small vessel from Havana attempted to run the blockade with supplies for us. Pressed by the enemy, she was beached under the guns of Fort Morgan. The enemy attempted to cut her out or destroy her, and the guns of our fort had difficulty in keeping them off until a small unarmed steamer went