CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, AND RETURNS RELATING TO OPERATIONS IN SOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA, Kentucky, TENNESSEE, MISSISSIPPI, ALABAMA, WEST FLORIDA, AND NORTHERN Georgia, FROM JANUARY 1, 1861, TO JUNE 30, 1865.
UNION CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.*
FORT JEFFERSON, January 25, 1861.
Brigadier General J. G. TOTTEN,
Chief of Engineers, Washington:
SIR: The last gun of our present armament was mounted this morning.
The condition of this work is so fully known at Washington that I do not wish to trouble the Department with requisitions. If I read the political signs aright, a large sum of money will be at an early day devoted to completing this great strategic fortress and naval depot. I requested a cargo of provisions by a late letter; another of lumber and timber, assorted, would be of use. I also requested the Department to send down a first-rate blacksmith. The complete armament of the lower tier could be put in position if here. We have for our present population of 168 persons, including all non-effective women, children, &c., 850 days' supply of pure water at the Navy rates, and besides this a very large quantity of water in the cisterns in the casemates. Much of this is good for washing and cooking. Some of the cisterns, however, have never been made tight, and water in them is salt. The 850 days' supply is in the cisterns on the parade, and is perfectly pure and fresh. This great abudance, however, will not lead to waste. I shall advise that all stores be used and all operations carried on as though this work was soon to b eused as a naval depot. I proose, if I can get piles, to commence at once building a perment wharf of concrete and to set up the iron crane so long since brought here by Captain Wright. This will enable us to land guns with much saving of labor and time.
With any battery of course all machinery, tools, and implements should be sent, If the 11-inch guns for the bastion barbettes are shipped, stone traverse arches should be sent with them. They could be put in place in a few days, as we have materials to build the parapets. The arches of this work ought to be ocvered with earth brought from some fresh-water region. IK know of cisterns which, after some years' use, are still brackish from the filtration of water through the coral and calcareous porous sand of a coral sea. The cost would not be much increased, because the sand if collected here must be loaded into a boat and transported some distance. The difference, therefore, would be merely in the distance transported. Fine, white, siliceous sand could be obtained from the banks of some of the navigable fresh-water streams of the Everglades by contract at moderate rates. The garrison here is well supplied and is comforably estalbished. The guard-house will be finished in a few days. It is a great satisfaction to me now that I can give my immediate attention to assisting the artillery officers in preparing their batteries, as all that the fortification needed was finished a month ago at leisure and without hurry. I trust that the efforts promised in your letter of 8th instant have been crowned with success, but, if not, you need feel no anxiety for the safety of this work. I have been tempted to run down to Fort Pickens and endeavor
*For Confederate Correspondence, etc., covering the same theater of operations and the same period of time, see Part II.