from the conflict, and the freedom of the South will be forever established. If, however, the battle of independence is to be fought here, the history of Mississippi and the character of her gallant people compel me to believe that they would be among the first and staunchest to stand by their brethren in arms.
I have intrusted this letter to the care of the honorable the chief justice of your State, Judge Smith, to deliver, with my request to inform your excellency of all such details as are of importance, and to urge upon you the necessity of sending forward to this place every armed man that can be spared from Mississippi at the earliest moment.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
A. S. JOHNSTON,
General, C. S. Army.
NAVY DEPARTMENT, Richmond, December 24, 1861.
Major General LEONIDAS POLK,
Commanding Forces at Columbus, Ky.:
SIR: The completion of the iron-clad gunboats at Memphis by Mr. Shirly is regarded as highly important to the defenses of the Mississippi. One of them at Columbus would have enabled you to complete the annihilation of the enemy. Had I not supposed that every facility for obtaining carpenters from the army near Memphis would have been extended to the enterprise, I would not have felt authorized to have commenced their construction there, as it was evident that ruinous delays must ensue if deprived of obtaining mechanics in this way. These vessels will be armed with very heavy guns and will be iron-clad, and with such aid as mechanics under your command can afford they may be completed, I am assured, in sixty days. May I ask, therefore, that you will extend to this Department the necessary aid? The men may be furloughed for this special service, and the highest current wages will be paid them.
The Department, to induce the construction of the boats, has to be in advance to Mr. Shirly, and the Government may be said to be exclusively interested in their speedy completion.
I have also to ask that, if practicable, a guard be assigned to protect these vessels. Though Mr. Shirly stands in the light of a contractor, he seems to have been guided alone by patriotism and an unselfish desire to do all in his power to serve us, and has undertaken to construct the vessels at our own estimates.
Unless mechanics can be obtained from the forces under your command the completion of these vessels will be a matter of uncertainty, and the Government will lose their services and sustain all the pecuniary loss.
I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
S. R. MALLORY,
Secretary of the Navy.
COLUMBUS, KY., December 24, 1861.
Honorable J. P. BENJAMIN:
It has been several months since a large portion of this army has received any pay, and a number of regiments have never received a dollar since entering the service. They are getting very sore under