on Washington. A gentleman who has recently run the blockade into Mobile is reported to have said he saw at Martinique fourteen Confederate vessels of war receiving their crew and armaments. I know this gentleman well, and if he really said so, the information can be relied upon, and will probably account for the presence of the monitor fleet off the Balize.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
SHREVEPORT, LA., May 30, 1863.
Lieutenant General E. KIRBY SMITH,
Commanding Department of the Trans-Mississippi:
SIR: I beg leave to inclose herewith, for your information, a copy of the report of a survey ordered by me upon the condition of the gunboats Webb and Grand Duke, recently turned over from the army. I concur in that report, and am of opinion that the Grand Duke cannot in any way be made an efficient gunboat.
A proposition having been made to me to take the machinery, &c., out of the Grand Duke, for use in the construction here of another ironclad gunboat, for which the Navy Department has partially contracted, I am disposed to accede to the arrangement, if the contractors will take them at a proper valuation. I propose also to make such disposition of the cotton taken from the vessel as may be deemed most advantageous to the public interest.
With respect to the Webb, she might be made useful as a ram or tender, but she requires repairs and alterations, to effect which, as well as in regard to armament, &c., I should have to look to you for assistance, as I have not the funds necessary for the purpose, and have been informed by the Navy Department that they would be provided by the Department of War.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
THOMAS W. BRENT,
Commander, C. S. Navy, in Charge Navy Department, W. La.
SHREVEPORT, LA., May 27, 1863.
Commander THOMAS W. BRENT,
In Charge Navy Department, Western Louisiana:
SIR: In obedience to your order of the 21st May, annexed,* we have made a strict and careful survey of the gunboats Webb and Grand Duke, recently turned over from the War to the Navy Department, and respectfully report as follows:
The hull of the Webb in tolerable condition, needing calking above the water-line, and some repairs inside and out in her upper works. Engine very good, but requires overhauling and slight repairs. Armament, none; has one Roy gun-carriage on her forecastle. Equipments, &c., she has nothing worthy of the name. The accompanying list of articles,* certified to by Captain Pierce, is correct, excepting as to the number of boats; one has been received.