to her assistance, and under the fire of the enemy's gunboats relieved and brought her in. She brought in 150 bags of coffee, with some sulphur and other small stores. During all this time the Florida, an armed steamer, is lying at the moorings of the city, unoccupied and independent. An armed schooner is also lying in the harbor here utterly useless. It would be economy to give her away and discharge the crew.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT Numbers 1, C. S. A., New Orleans, La., December 29, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War:
SIR: At 12 o'clock last night Hobarat & Foster's powder-mill, in the old Marine Hospital, exploded. One charge of powder (4,000 pounds) was in the drying-room, and another of the same amount was in the cylinders, all of which was lost. I had taken out 4,000 pounds the same day. The mill was turning out this amount daily.
The mill that I brought over from Handsborogh will be put in twenty days, and this, together with the city mill, will enable us to turn out 2,500 or 3,000 pounds daily. Hobart & Foster will proceed immediately to rebuild their mill, and I shall drive it through with all the means at my control, and hope to have it in operations again in six weeks.
The total amount of saltpeter invoiced to this point since the middle of last September is 82,506 pounds gross, of which only 62,000 ever came to hand. The weight of the casks and sacks is to be deducted, besides which some of it was very impure. Hobart & Foster had three days' supply on hand at the time of the explosion (10,000 pounds), which was not injured.
The enemy has now at Ship Island twenty-two vessels, large and small, and is landing troops in large numbers. They have been sounding and staking out the channels leading towards the Rigolets and chef Menteur Pass, but I think this is only a blind to draw our attention from Mobile, which I think is their object of attack. They cannot take New Orleans by a land attack with any force they can bring to bear.
I should much like to have for an inspector-general an officer of knowledge and experience. I am almost entirely deficient in the way of officers. General Ruggles and Colonel Duncan are the only two serving with troops who can render me aid. No other department is so deficient, and certainly none is more important.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
MOBILE, December 30, 1861.
General S. COOPER,
The enemy's vessels, some twenty, are below, landing supplies and large bodies of troops on Ship Island.