HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF WEST FLORIDA,
Barrancas, March 4, 1864.
Brigadier General CHARLES P. STONE,
Chief of Staff, Department of the Gulf:
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit, in connection with my report of February 23, * Numbers 86, the following additional information in regard to affairs in my neighborhood, received from refugees and deserters:
There are at present 12,000 to 15,000 rebel troops at Mobile, including those who fell back from Meridian, with about 1,000 cavalry. General Maury was urging non-combatants to leave the city at once. General Polk's men decline to fight longer in Mississippi, and are deserting on large numbers. The trains in the Mobile and Ohio Railroad are only running 33 miles beyond the city to a place called Citronelle. The people of Mobile seem to be prepared to surrender as soon as the railroad communication with Montgomery is cut off. The rebel iron ram Tennessee succeeded in getting over the Dog river Bar in the Mobile Harbor, and as it becomes thus one of the possibilities in prospect that this formidable vessel, aided by others of similar power, may pass our blockading fleet and attempt an entrance into the Pensacola Harbor, I issued, at the suggestion of admiral Farragut, the inclosed Special orders, Numbers 46, directing the commanders of Forts Pickens and Barrancas to prevent the entrance of any vessel at night until its character is satisfactorily ascertained, requesting at the same time Commodore Smith, commanding the navy-yard, and Captain Gibson, senior officer afloat here, to secure for the two ports a seasonable information of the approach of any vessel of suspicious appearance.
In the rebel Camp Gonzales, 15 miles above Pensacola, there were on the 1st instant not more than 250 to 300 infantry (Tennessee troops) and 100 cavalry, but the garrison at Pollard was increased last Sunday to 3,000 in anticipation of a raid from here on the Mobile and Montgomery Railroad.
The Tennessee troops stationed at the camp between Blackwater and Escambia Rivers have been relieved again by Mississippi troops, paroled at Vicksburg. Their officers say they are exchanged.
Colonel W. Miller, of the rebel conscript bureau for the Southern District of Florida and Alabama, intends to make a raid on East Bay with 300 cavalry, for the purpose of gathering up all deserters and refugees secreted in the whole and abandoned farms, and I have no means to prevent it. Union sympathizer in Florida and Alabama are organizing in bodies to meet the rebel cavalry parties who infest the country.
The Montgomery Daily Advertiser, of February 20, admits that 100 of those men (called tories) entered Pikeville, Ala., on the 11th of February, killing, wounding, and capturing several of the Confederate garrison.
Refugees and deserters and continually coming into our lines, although facilities I can afford are very limited.
The number of the Florida recruits has already reached 300, but they have no horses, no arms, and no equipments, although proper requisitions were forwarded in time to department headquarters. Neither have I funds to pay the first installment of $25 of the regular bounty, and I would respectfully refer to my application for such funds submitted on January 21, Sub-Numbers 38.
* See Part I, p. 489.