Tallahassee, January 17, 1865.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President Confederate States of America:
SIR: I have the honor to submit to you the following suggestions looking to the defense of the people of Florida from the forces of the enemy at Savannah. I approach the subject with diffidence, knowing the great cares which engross your attention, and that every available resource is now needed to meet the masses of the enemy at other points. Yet there are considerations vitally connected with the continuance of the war which demand that every means which can be spared by the Government shall be used to protect Southwest Georgia and Florida from the enemy's raids. Amongst these considerations I suggest as most important the supplies of subsistence and forage, the country being as yet unpenetrated by the enemy; also the general disaffection to be apprehended from their successful inroad, the re-enforcements they would obtain by slaves, and the proximity of this entire region to the Gulf coast, which if once occupied will render its recovery extremely difficult. I am constrained from a careful observation and from all the information I have received to regard with the most serious forebodings the effect on public opinion in the State of Georgia of the recent march of the enemy through her territory and their establishment at Savannah, and the facilities supplied by the Albany and Gulf Railroad to Thomasville, and the connection with Florida at Live Oak, present the inducement and the means or a successful and ruinous invasion of Southwest Georgia and Middle Florida. I would respectfully submit for your consideration the following measures, which, in my opinion, are the most effectual that can be adopted to protect this portion of the Confederacy until the movement of the main armies shall enable us to arrive at more practical results:
First. The assignment of the southwest counties of Georgia and Alabama bordering on Florida to the Military District of Florida.
Second. The retention of the reserves and the detailed men of those counties in the district for military service therein.
Third. The immediate removal of the iron from the Albany and Gulf Railroad from a point as near Savannah as practicable.
Fourth. The construction of a railroad from Thomasville to Albany and of a railroad from Quincy to the Appalachicola River, which I recommended years ago.
With proper energy and military ability, with the use of the militia forces of this State and the adjacent counties of Georgia, which I doubt not can be procured through officers of this State well known in those counties, and with the co-operation of the Executive of Georgia, I shall feel some degree of confidence that we shall be able to defeat any force which the enemy will probably send against us during the pendency of larger operations elsewhere. Without such measures we may fall a prey to a comparatively small force.
I respectfully and earnestly urge your immediate and favorable consideration of this subject and the adoption of such measures as will carry the suggestions made into immediate effect.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
Governor of Florida.