War of the Rebellion: Serial 086 Page 0339 Chapter LIII. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.- UNION.

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Mississippi, two seaboard counties of Alabama, and seven counties of Western Florida there is no rebel force of any account except at Mobile. There are, however, small bodies stationed as follows, viz, at Mandeville, a provost guard of about twenty men under Captain Bonney; at Gainesville Springs, a small company under Captain Bernado; at Augusta, Miss., a company under Captain Gillis; on the line of Jones and Jasper Counties, Miss., a company of twenty-five men under Captain Barkley, and between Mobile and Apalachicola River and various small bodies of rebel soldiers, but few together. According to the best information to be obtained the defenses of Mobile are as follows, viz, there are three lines of intrenchments extending entirely around the city. The first (or inner line is about one mile from the city, and is protected from assault by a wet ditch. The outer lines have only dry ditches. Batteries are erected on each line, guarding each avenue of approach toward the city. The number of men garrisoning these works is said to be about 3,000, principally men who are unfit for service in the field. This number comprises the entire land force used for the defense of the city. The navy consists of four vessels, as follows, viz, the Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, both clad with three plates of 2-inch iron, and carry four 32-pounder guns each, two forward and two aft. They are propellers, and were intended for rams, but were found to lack in speed. The Nashville is a side-wheel steamer, the wheels protected by iron plating. She is covered fore and aft with two plates of 2-inch iron. She was intended to be plated entire, but could not carry the weight. She carries four 32-pounder guns. The Morgan is a wooden vessels, similar to the Gaines, and carries six guns. There are no other armed vessels, except small picket-boats, carrying one small field piece each. There are two vessels built like the Tennessee afloat in Mobile Harbor, but have neither plating nor guns as yet.

The political status of this section of country is favorable to the Union. The people generally are retired of the war, and, in fact, many of them were never in favor of it. For eighteen months past the forests and canebrakes have swarmed with men who have fled thither for concealment from conscript officers and squads of soldiers sent to arrest them. In many instances they have assembled in sufficient numbers to resist their persecutors and compel them to leave their neighborhoods. The country is barren, and many of the people in a starving condition. Before the war they procured their subsistence by the sale of wood, lumber, and naval stores, and now that they have not that source of supply they can scarcely obtain enough to sustain life, and, as usual, those who suffer most are those who are in no manner responsible for the present state of affairs. Such as had no property to leave have very generally come within our lines, and early all who remain would gladly do so had they the means of subsistence here. These statements apply more especially to the eastern parishes of Louisiana and the southern counties of Mississippi. In these counties are a few wealthy men who formerly owned plantations and a large number of slaves. Their plantations they retain, but their slaves are in the employ of the U. S. Government, they having almost without exception left their masters and come within our lines. Two years ago these wealthy men were nearly all secessionists, but now it is difficult to find one who would not gladly embrace the first opportunity to renew his allegiance whenever he could be protected in the expression of his loyalty. This brief and general statement is most respectfully submitted.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ELIOT BRIDGMAN.