War of the Rebellion: Serial 020 Page 0667 Chapter XXVI. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records



GENERAL: I received yours inclosing the report of the officers on the harbor obstructions and defenses. When I was in Charleston a few weeks ago I visited, with General Gist and Dr. Cheves, these obstructions, and where they were being prepared I then thought, and so expressed myself, that the tide was too strong and the channel so deep that no reliance could be placed upon those chains, floating logs, &c. The great reliance for successful defense is first in brave a skillful fighting, and then upon bringing from Fort Sumter and the batteries opposite a concentrated fire of heavy cannon upon the same point at the same moment. With this view the batteries on Sullivan's Island, recently erected, mounting 10-inch columbiads, are of immense advantage. If some thirty heavy cannon can be brought to bear at the same moment, and, by signals, fired upon a given object at the same time from three sides, it would be difficult for any boat to pass it. Then the two gunboats, particularly the Chicora, heavily ironed as they are, will also be of great additional strength. The bow guns of these boats, being 7-inch rifled and carrying a ball of 125 pounds, are very formidable defenses of the center of the channel. I also received yours asking for the iron and other material on the old floating battery. I answered it immediately by telegram, and transferred it all to your order.

Your telegram urging the propriety of Southern Governors meeting the Northwestern Governors at Memphis, to see if propositions of peace could not be suggested, I also received. I cannot see how it can be practically carried out, and have grave doubts as to any favorable results; but having occasion to write Governor Harris, of Tennessee, I mentioned the matter to him freely, by way of asking his opinion. I did the same also to Governor Brown. If Bragg's army had remained on the Ohio in force much might perhaps have been done in this way, but he has retreated, and that has weakened our cause greatly in the Northwestern States. These States would not be able now to make any separate move. I doubt not but that finally the Northwestern States will separate from the Middle and Northern States. I received yours also as to a cipher to telegraph in, and it may become necessary.

When I was in Charleston, in the first part of last month, you will recollect I called your attention to the manner in which the negroes we had sent to work on the fortifications were managed. I complained that they were not divided off and assigned to the control or command of practical men, acquainted with negroes and how to get work done, &c. You observed that you intended to have them divided off and strictly attended to. I know it is almost impossible to have anything done right, particularly if not in the direct line of military duty and service. There has been great irregularity in the manner of executing the requisition for negroes. Parts of neighborhoods have been taken down and others not even notified. The negroes have been retained beyond the time they were taken down for, and this too without giving any notice to their owners or agents. You know that all such things produce great dissatisfaction and complaint. If notice were given in advance when negroes are absolutely required to remain as a military necessity it would be better. We have sent down in all some 8,000 negroes, and this produces in the aggregate much derangement in gathering crops, so necessary for winter support. I hope it will not be long now before you can discharge all that belong to the country and impress those who are in and around the city to finish, as the work necessary to get in