War of the Rebellion: Serial 006 Page 0891 Chapter XVI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records


Mobile, April 25, 1862.


Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 17th instant, inclosing copies of two letters, one from Commander Farrand, C. S. Navy, to the Secretary of the Navy, and one from the latter to the President.

Commodore Farrand reports correctly to the Secretary of the Navy that two unfinished gunboats were burned in Pensacola Bay on the 11th ultimo by my order, and adds that when he was at Pensacola he could not discover the necessity for the destruction of the gunboats. The Secretary of Navy communicates this report to the President, and adds that, so far as he is advised, "the destruction of these vessels was uncalled for," and asks that the officer under whose authority they were burned may be called upon to report why it was done.

You request me to make a report of the facts of the case. They are these:

On the 1st of March I received from Major-General Bragg, commanding this department, a letter dated 27th February last, in which he says: "You will make dispositions at the earliest moment, working day and night, to abandon Pensacola." And after giving certain directions he adds:

I desire you particularly to leave nothing the enemy can use; burn all from Fort McRae to the junction with the Mobile road. Save the guns, and, if necessary, destroy your gunboats and all other boats; they might be used against us, &c.

On the 2nd or 3rd of March, I received another letter from Major-General Bragg. It has no date, but could not have been written later than the 1st of March, as it was written in this city and he left here on that day. He says:

Press forward your troops and heavy guns; we must have them to hold the Mississippi. Should you find yourself unable to accomplish your work in ten days, destroy your smooth-bore guns and send me your troops. I would not thus press you, but our fate may depend on two weeks in the valley of the Mississippi.

On the evening of the 10th of March I considered that the time appointed by Major-General Bragg for the evacuation of Pensacola had arrived. My force had by that time been so reduced by sending off troops to Corinth that I could not have held my post if attacked in force.

I had reason, too, to believe that the enemy was informed of the reduction, of my force and the preparations to abounding the place. The report that it was to be abandoned was known in Pensacola before the first instructions were flying from the town, and some persons had succeeded in escaping to Fort Pickens, and no doubt informed the enemy of the condition of things; and though I determined, for reasons not now necessary to state, to hold the place as long as possible, I thought it incumbent upon me to carry out the work of destruction ordered by General Bragg as far as it could be done without attracting the attention of the enemy to what I was doing. I therefore directed Lieutenant-Colonel Beard to proceed up the bay and the next morning to commence