HDQRS. DEPARTMENT ALABAMA AND WEST FLORIDA, Near Pensacola, Fla., January 4, 1862.
SIR: After completing my inspections at Mobile I reached here on the morning of the 2nd instant. Affairs in that part of my command are not in a very encouraging state, and I regret to say I see but little hope of improvement with the means at my command.
The question of rank between Colonels Powell and Maury was settled in favor of the former, and the latter, found off duty in Mobile, has returned to his post. Colonel Powell appears to be an intelligent, energetic, and faithful officer, but for want of experience in army service has great difficulties to contend with. The forts are in much better condition than when I visited them in October, and with ammunition would be in condition to prevent any entrance to Mobile Bay. The services of a good gunboat, in conjunction with Forts Morgan and Gaines, would be of great service; btu they are utterly useless at the city of Mobile, where they are now kept. The health of the troops at the forts is very good, and everything indicates improving discipline and a close attention to duty.
The infantry brigade under Brigadier General L. P. Walker, encamped on the main-land, some 12 or 15 miles from Mobile, on the road to Pascagoula, I regret to report in a very bad condition. The commander had established himself in the city of Mobile with a large and useless staff at a heavy expense, whilst his troops were suffering in crowded tents and huts, without hospitals or any of those essentials for the comfort and health of raw men. There was no organization, no system, and no instruction, and great mortality, about one-third of the command being sick, with a great deficiency of hospital accommodation.
I ordered General Walker sent to his command before I left here; but under various pretexts he was still absent from his command on the 1st instant. Except as a matter of principle, I attach no importance to this absence of the general, as his want of knowledge and experience, and it appears to me an inaptitude for military command, render it impossible for him to supply the wants in that brigade. I consequently look for little improvement without a change.
The Department cannot but see the great importance of this position at the present time, and the necessity of having a well-organized, well-instructed, disciplined, and equipped command at such an exposed point. The recent movements of the enemy render it more important than ever. Had my former recommendations been adopted our strength would have been much greater; it may not be too late to retrieve a part of what is lost; but time is precious, and prompt and decided action necessary.
Cannon, powder, and small arms and accouterments are the great essentials for out strength, provided we can get proper commander to have them used.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,