F. Clarke, subsistence department: Captain Henry B. Clitz, Third Infantry; First Lieutenant George T. Balch, Ordnance. Captain George L. Hartsuff, assistant-general, will record the proceedings.
By order of Colonel Brown:
GEO. L. HARTSUFF,
FORT PICKENS, FLA., May 22, 1861.
The council met in accordance with the above order. Lieutenant George T. Balch absent. Colonel Harvey Brown, commanding the department and post, then stated to the council that he had assembled the officers to receive their opinions on the condition of affairs at this fort; that he had great confidence in their judgment and opinions, and that he requested an expression of them, but that he considered himself responsible alone, and would take the responsibility entirely upon himself. He then proceeded to read the following statement: * * *
The object of the expedition, which is the security of Fort Pickens against all attacks, foreign and domestic. Should a shot be fired at you, you will defend yourself and your expedition at whatever hazard, and if needful for such defense inflict upon the assailants all the damage in your power within the range of your guns.
At the time of receiving these instructions no actual hostilities existed. Since then Fort Sumter has been attacked by the secessionists and taken, and a proclamation of the President of the seceding States has been published in the newspapers and seen by us, declaring war against the United States, and the President of the United States has issued a proclamation calling for troops to defend our frontiers and notifying the seceders that he would give twenty days for them to vacate our posts, which time has expired. The enemy have since then been constantly employed in casting shot and shell at the navy-yard, in erecting batteries and arming them with heavy guns, evidently with a design to bombard this fort. He has abused in several instances the flag of truce, and last night he anchored within less than a mile of this fort a large vessel with soldiers on board, evidently designed to act hostilely against this fort. The commanding officer on the 17th ultimo notified the general commanding the secession forces of his design, unless assailed, to act only on the defensive, and to-day has notified him of his intention to act on the offensive whenever the honor and interest of his country, in his opinion, demand it.
First. Is the commanding officer of Fort Pickens now bound by the spirit of his orders to act on the defensive solely?
Second. Is, or is not, the commending of hostilities by the secessionists sufficient cause for his acting offensively?
Third. Are, or are ot, the several acts of the command general of the forces at Warrington, as here detailed, and the truth of which is known to all the members of this council, a sufficient cause for opening a fire on the enemy?
Fourth. Is it, or is it not, in our present state and that of the enemy, expedient at this time to open fire against the enemy?
Fifth. Should, or should not, an attempt to remove the vessel from her present position be considered an act of hostility?
Sixth. Should, or should not, the commanding officer so notify General Bragg?
After a full and free discussion on the several questions a vote was taken, resulting as follows:
Question Numbers 1. Seven, no; one, yes; decided, no.
10 R R-VOL LII, PT I