If we have only twenty-four guns to guard a point on the river, it is best to divide them, and place twelve in position on either side, to make their service more efficient. I do not think it will be possible for you to stop the enemy at Columbus, even if you defend it successfully, unless you have the opposite bank fortified.
With the aid of piles driven in the river, trees lodged against them, and such booms, where the channel is deep, as the Chinese used when they defeated the British at the Pei-Ho forts, making a succession of obstructions extending across the river under your guns, the defense of Vicksburg and New Orleans may be made successfully by your at Columbus.
The plan of the enemy is obvious. Their object is to take New Orleans. If their armada can descend the river, with a land force of 20,000, capture and destroy our steamers and all our means of rive transportation, and anchor above New Orleans, they can safely wait for the co-operations of their Gulf force. With the command of Lake Pontchartrain and the Passes and all the avenues of approach to the city, we cannot relieve it even with a force of 100,000 men. I think if they are defeated on land at Columbus, Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez, Baton Rouge, and every other point above, they can run the gauntlet of our batteries with their armada down to New Orleans, unless we fortify both banks of the Mississippi at Columbus and the defensive points below.
Pardon the above, which is written under a sense of duty, and with the highest regard for you as a general and as a man.
I, like yourself, have laid aside (almost) my pastoral staff for the sword, deploring this was, and endeavoring to bring it to an end by the Lord's help. Educated for the army, I could not refuse my services as a soldier to my country in her severe trial.
Respectfully, your friend and obedient servant,
Lieutenant-Colonel and Chief of Ordnance, M. A.
C. S. ENGINEER OFFICE,
Nashville, Tenn., November 28, 1861.
Captain M. H. WRIGHT,
Ordnance Department, Nashville, Tenn.:
SIR: For the batteries at Fort Donelson and Clarksville, Cumberland River, you will please to make a requisition for the following additional guns, viz:
Four 8-inch columbiads, or, if these cannot be had, then four other guns of long range, four 32-pounder guns; all to be delivered at Clarksville, Tenn., with platforms, chassis, and carriages complete; also 50 rounds of ammunition.
Also for Fort Henry, Tennessee River, the following:
Four 8-inch columbiads, four they heavy guns of long range, four 32-pounder guns. These to be delivered at Tennessee Bridge, 20 miles above Fort Henry, with platforms, chassis, and carriages complete, and 50 rounds of ammunition.
By order of General Johnston:
J. F. GILMER,
Major, and Chief Engineer Western Department.