exigency, through you and the Confederate authorities in Columbia, to General Beauregard.
The prisoners taken by Major Woodfin's party near Warm Springs declared it was the intention to capture Asheville and to occupy the western part of North Carolina permanently, but if this is accomplished for even so short a time, Greenville and the adjoining district would be, in the present state of things, at the mercy of the foe, and there is no telling how far the State might be penetrated.
A comparatively small force might secure the mountain passes at present, if that force is of the right material.
With great respect,
G. F. TOWNES.
HDQRS. DEPT. SOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA, AND FLORIDA,
Charleston, October 27, 1863.
General G. T. BEAUREGARD,
Commanding Department, &c.:
GENERAL: I have examined with much care the questions of defense presented by His Excellency the Governor of Florida, in a communication addressed to you, under date of the 15th instant, and I have the honor to present my views thereon, as called for by your reference.
It is feared by His Excellency that the closing of Moccasin Creek will expose to famine nearly 500 persons in Apalochicola, Fla., and that the obstructions will afford to Columbus "very slight, if any, means of defense, and to the State of Florida none whatever." The natural approach to Southwestern Georgia, and to Columbus from the harbor of Apalachicola, is by the river. It has been the commercial channel and usual route of travel in the past, and this gives the strongest evidence that the river is the best and easiest line of approach for military expeditions. To defend this approach the batteries and obstructions were constructed, and the location at the Narrows was selected because it could be approached by the enemy only with great difficulty. At periods of high water (when the enemy would attempt an advance) the position cannot be turned or attacked by land, and the sloughs and creeks leading to the rear can be obstructed, thus making it possible to hold the batteries and defend the river with a small garrison. This is important, as the forces that can be spared from the active operations of the campaign may at times be very limited. The Governor advocates the occupation of Apalochicola, to prevent the enemy from getting a foothold there to overrun and control Western Florida. This is much to be desired, but our means are not such as to warrant such occupation. Our enemy can concentrate his forces so readily at points immediately on the coast that the garrison at Apalochicola would be overwhelmed before it could be relieved. Our connection with Apalachicola could be intercepted easily by the enemy if the Saint Mark's were left open. To obstruct its channel will require much labor and time, and a battery must be erected to protect the obstructions. This must have a garrison of considerable strength, or it would fall an easy prey to the enemy, involving the loss of the whole force relied upon for the defense of Apalachicola and West Florida. The town is also exposed to attack from the direction of Saint Joseph's, as troops can be landed at many points of the coast