seized were appraised. The original appropriation was $1,000,000. Captain Montgomery informs me that half a million more has been voted; if so, it should be sent on at once, so as to pay off the liabilities on the vessels.
I trust that the results to be derived from this fleet will compensate for the outlay, but unless some good head is placed in charge of it I far such will not be the case. The expenses of outfit, payment for ships, and months' wages will consume one and a half millions. It is due, however, to Montgomery to say that for everything he has been compelled to pay nearly 300 per cent. over current piece prices. Eight of these vessels are up the river and four below; the remaining two will go below in a few days.
I telegraphed General Beauregard some time since about fortifying at Vicksburg, although we have no guns to put up there, but in case we fall back from the Corinth and Memphis line we might make a fair stand on a line running from Vicksburg through Jackson and Meridian. I have no officer of engineers to send there, but think the subject of importance.
The enemy has forty vessels just below Fort Jackson, and has been firing occasionally for two days past. I think they will locate their mortar ships, shell the forts for several days or weeks, and then try to dash by with their steamers. They have four ships of the class of the Hartford, and twelve or fifteen gunboats, besides twenty-one mortar schooners. If we can manage to obstruct the river so as to retain them thirty minutes under our fire I think we can cripple the fleet.
We have several regiments here which have enlisted for the war, but are entirely destitute of small-arms, I having sent all I had to Corinth with Ruggles' brigade.
Heavy requisitions, entirely unforeseen, are constantly made on this department for supplies of all kinds, and when they come are generally very urgent. To meet such calls large amounts of funds should be kept here, either in the hands of the different disbursing officers or placed at my disposition. It is too late after the requisition to make estimates; neither can we give details in advance.
I received a telegram from the President that the Secretary of War had, in answer to my dispatches about the necessity of martial law in some of the adjoining parishes, written me fully on the subject. I have not received his letter. The good citizens in many of the neighboring parishes are sending petitions constantly to have martial law extended over them. It should be done, in order to make it effective in those parishes where it exists. Please inform me on this point, as also how are the expenses of provost-marshals to be paid hereabouts.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
NEW ORLEANS, LA., April 15, 1862.
The enemy is preparing for a formidable attack on the forts below. He shelled them a little for the past two days; no harm done. Twenty-seven vessels in sight from forts.