to relieve it, but the captain of a brig which left there on the 15th and was becalmed till late on the 16th within a few miles of the land informs me that the Wyandotte was there and that he heard guns on the 16th, but they were all for the fort, with the Wyandotte co-operating. It is entirely impossible for Colonel Chase to land guns, to transport them through the sands of Santa Rosa if landed, or to open trenches, or establish batteries, and I have, therefore, no fears for the safety of Lieutenant Slemmer. This captain says no one can tell what is the force of the garrison. He thinks 200, and certainly not less than 150. The navy-yards and powder magazine a re within reach of the guns of Fort Pickens and would be at his mercy, even if they contained 10,000 men.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
M. C. MEIGS,
Captain of Engineers.
STEAMSHIP DANIEL WEBSTER,
Off Tortugas, Fla., March 23, 1861.
Headquarters of the Army, Washington City:
SIR: On the 13th instant I chartered the steampship General Rusk, then in the harbor of Brazos Santiago, to take to Key West and Tourtugas the portion of Major French's command which could not be placed on this steamer. This course I adopted upon conviction it was the only practical one, and in the end the most economical, of accomplishing without great delay, and consequent expense from demurrage, the embarkation of the troops and batteries. My reasons were: First. An additional supply of water was required on this steamer before troops could be embarked, and from the 3rd to the 13th instant it was impossible to procure it, and the winds which prevented still prevailed. Second. Only one lighter crosses the bar at Brazos Santiago, and the owner could not be induced to risk his vessel by the side of the Webster or any other side-wheel steamer, or to anchor sufficiently near to embark any portion of the battery or luggage, or even to transfer troops, unless the sea became very smooth. Third. I had been on shore ten days, and owing to strong winds and rough sea had been able to communicate but once with the Webster, and on the 13th the lighter had been three days of good weather at the mouth of the river waiting a safe opportunity, in the opinion of the owner, to cross the bar. Fourth. Whenever the lighter could cross the bar, the troops could be embarked by the aid of small boats, but the want of water prevented; and had I succeeded in getting water on board, no sail vessel could be procured after the 11th instant to take the batteries and luggage. At this season strong winds prevail, and lately Government vesels which could not enter the harbor have been forced, after long delay, to leave without discharging their cargoes, and I feared if I permitted the Rusk (then under steam) to leave without intention to return I might experience the same fate, and be compelled to engaged the New Orleans steam-packet to carry a load to the mouth of the Mississippi, there to be transferred to this ship. While awaiting the return of the Rusk, I exerted myself to place water and the batteries on the Wesbter, but effected nothing till the 16th, when by the aid of an old, very small, schooner I succeeded with the water and a small portion of French's battery. From daylight of the 19th to 7.30 p. m. I was engaged by the same means in embarking a portion of the two