which have been circulated, that an expedition is preparing there to move against this place. The disorder in Clanton's brigade was caused by the outbreak which I have already reported to you. Eighty-six of his command are here for trial. They will probably be sentenced to be shot, and I shall have the sentences executed. Will it be lawful, in case many of them should be sentenced to death, for me to cause them to be decimated by lot?
The tone of the other troops here seems excellent. The blockading squadron has been recently increased. The Tennessee is ready for action, except her crew. Under an energetic commander I do not doubt she alone can rout the whole blockading fleet. Her guns are very formidable and her speed excellent. I hope you will help the admiral to get men from the army. My supply of ordnance is coming in very slowly, but I know our means are limited, and am sure that you will give me everything practicable. I think the shops at Selma under charge of the army ordnance department are not so efficient as they ought to be. The works here have been continually strengthened, and should the attempt to run past the forts be delayed, I am not without hope of defeating it by the means now proposed. I expect soon to plant a formidable battery in the channel within 1,600 yards of Fort Morgan. This, with obstructions, torpedoes, and the admiral's fleet, ought to make the passage difficult to wooden ships. The channel there is wide and deep, the currents rapid, and the water rough. These difficulties in the way of such works as I am preparing are very great, when our means of transportation and labor are so limited. The system established in this State for regulating prices of subsistence stores is now very onerous. Pork is sold to officers at $ 2.40 per pound. I hope Congress will pass some measures of relief at an early day. The proposition to issue rations to officers of the lower grades in actual service as to men seems but just.
With much respect, your obedient servant,
DABNEY H. MAURY,
MOBILE, February 1, 1864.
I left New Orleans on the 18th of January last. I had been in that city for five weeks, having been captured on the Marshall J. Smith, running the blockade from Mobile. I was on the wharf at the lake end of the Pontchartrain Railroad when the expedition started for Madisonville. There were five steamers: The Kate Dale, St. Charles, high pressure; the N. P. Banks, low pressure and new; the Commodore, stern wheel, and another small one, and five small schooners. It was said there were 1,600 men embarked - 500 cavalry and about four or six pieces of field artillery. When the expedition started the impression was that it was destined for Pascagoula, as they steered in that direction and did not alter their course until after doubling Pointe aux Herbes. It was said that they were fortifying at Madisonville. When I left there were two more companies at the lake, and ready to start. An officer said to a friend of mine that their intention was to establish a line from Pascagoula to Ponchatoula. There were no boats, barges, or scows building on the lake shore of New Orleans, but it was reported that they were building some at Ship Island or somewhere else, and I saw lumber (4-inch plank) evi-