COMMANDANT'S OFFICE, NAVAL STATION,
Jackson, October 9, 1862.
Commanding Military District of the Mississippi:
GENERAL: In the expectation of being relieved from this station I beg leave to submit the fruits of my observation as to the protection of the naval works on the Yazoo, participating in which protection are twenty-three large river steamers and an immense amount of cotton upon the river and its adjacent banks.
Apart from its position as commanding the right flank of the defenses of Vicksburg, Haines' Bluff, if properly fortified, would control the months of the Yazoo, and its tributaries, the Great and Little Sunflower Rivers.
Besides a battery of heavy guns, with a protecting force thereof, an efficient barricade in the channel of the river abreast is indispensable; otherwise the battery will prove but a slight impediment to the upward passage of iron-clad vessels.
There is a barricade formed of sunken vessels and a raft of logs at Liverpool, on the Yazoo River, above which lies the vast amount of property to which I have alluded.
It would be unwise to open that barricade even after the river is obstructed below, but perfect madness to attempt to open it under present circumstances. On the contrary, a sluice worn upon the right bank should be blocked up by sinking one of the steamers now in the Upper Sunflower River, which can be brought around on the first temporary rise of water. I take the liberty of speaking earnestly on this point because during my late visit to the banks of the Yazoo some parties, claiming to act by your authority, professed the intention of opening the barricade at Liverpool, professedly, for the egress of some of the steamers lying above. They could exhibit no authority and I ordered the commander of the gunboat Mobile to sink any vessel attempting to pass, until I received official notification of the sanction of such an attempt.
I have ordered the officers and crew of the late ram Arkansas to the Yazoo, and if you can divert a few heavy guns from other points and allow them to be placed in position at Liverpool, those officers and men, if a force be at hand to prevent the battery from being flanked, will protect the barricade against any force that may assail it.
There are but two light smooth-bore 32-pounders mounted at Liverpool in the place of the four heavy guns taken away by General Van Dorn, and subsequently destroyed by the enemy. As soon as intelligence of their destruction reached me I applied to the Naval Ordnance Bureau for other guns of like caliber, but the reply then, as well as to a subsequent application, was that the bureau had not one such gun at its disposal.
Once within the barrier of the Yazoo the enemy would control 150 miles of inland navigation, and after destroying a vast amount of public and private property be enabled to strike the Great Northern Railroad at various accessible points.
If knew how deeply I feel the importance of preparation and how much I grieve for the loss of every moment I am sure that you would excuse the liberty I take in addressing you.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. F. LYNCH,
Flag-Officer, Commanding Naval Forces of the West.