War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0797 Chapter XVI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

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for distribution to New Orleans, except 5 tons of cannon and 1 of rifle powder, which I desire sent to Galveston.

Your obedient servant,


Secretary of War.

RICHMOND, VA., January 6, 1862.

Major-General LOVELL,

New Orleans, La.:

I have taken all the powder by the Picket. Arrange with the owners for bringing it all to New Orleans, except 5 tons of cannon powder and 1 ton of rifle powder, ordered to Galveston.


Secretary of War.


Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN,

Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:

MY DEAR SIR: Your private and confidentially dispatch of the 27th ultimo reached me on the evening of the 4th instant, and has had my most earnest consideration. I could not reply yesterday by telegraph, but do so this morning, and shall anxiously await the President's decision.

The aspect of affairs has so far changed within my present command that I feel greatly embarrassed by the alternative presented and the responsibility imposed. Had the President issued his order to me, I should have promptly obeyed without a murmur; but the alternative requires that, while I make no objection, I should submit a few considerations which impress me, and which the Department probably did not fully know at the date of the dispatch.

A portion of my command is now powerfully menaced by a large force, constantly increasing. Our force, at best, is very weak, and a part of it in very bad condition, so that I really cannot consider the city of Mobile perfectly safe. This place, to which you seem only to refer, is in no danger, unless form a incompetent commander; a danger we have just escaped. But it will take time, labor, and all the influence I can bring to bear to produce so good a result in the western part of my department. Much valuable time is already lost there, and but little progress is now being made, owing to the means I am compelled to use. This state of affairs is seen, felt, and deplored by those who have all at stake. A feverish state of excitement and much alarm exists in Mobile, where the danger is greatest, and it is no egotism in me to say I am looked to as their hope and support. The influence I have gained over the minds of the people in this section of the country, as well as over my troops, is considerable, and I do not believe any other could now fill my place to their satisfaction. You will readily see, then, my embarrassment.

The field to which you invite me is a most important one, but, under present aspects, not enticing. So much has been lost there, and so little done in organization and instruction, that the prospect of retrieving our ground is most gloomy. Troops so long accustomed to the freedom and license they have enjoyed will be more difficult to command than raw