War of the Rebellion: Serial 127 Page 0668 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

Search Civil War Official Records

was officious in exercising some general supervision over, or at least manifesting profound interest in, so much valuable public property, for I had not them been informed by the War Department that this was no more to be expected of me "than that I would assume to exercise authority in Virginia or Missouri. "

In this state of uncertainly and anxiety I received an application from the collector of this port to place a guard over certain arms and munitions believed to be the property of the Confederate States. It was after this, and when the report that the enemy's fleet was intended for the coast of Georgia has caused great excitement and alarm among the good people within the limits of my command, that I took possession of a portion of these arms, notifying the Department promptly of my action on the premises. The Department seems to treat this matter as through the arms were by my act placed out of its reach, or seven sent "beyond seas," whereas they were simply taken possession of by an ordnance officer of the Confederate service under my command, and such as were issued at all were placed in the hands of troops mustered in for the war, subject to be ordered anywhere or disarmed, at the pleasure of the Government, when the emergency was over; and the result has shown the correctness of this view, for the ordernt touching these very arms has now been executed to the letter, without obstacle or delay. I was not a little surprised to learn from your letter that instead of asking instructions I had "informed the Department by telegraph of my intention to seize these arms, to which no other reply could be made," &c. If I ever sent any such dispatch, neither my memory nor my copy book recalls it, and should it have any existence, I beg to ask the favor of your forward me a copy of it from the files of the Department. I know of but two dispatches sent by me on this subject, the first to the Adjutant-General, as follows:

SEPTEMBER 20, 1861.

I earnestly request that the arms and munitions of war by steamer Bermuda now where may not leave Savannah until you receive my letter of this date.

The second, addressed to the Secretary of War, in reply to one warning me as to the intended attack on Brunswick, &c., and dated 25th of September, was as follows:

I can do nothing for want of arms, unless I hold those from steamer Bermuda. I sent to-day a special to Richmond on this subject.

There is an entire absence of any expression of intention in either of these, and both of them simply and earnestly ask the assistance of the Department. I will here add that if in all matters of importance appertaining to this military district I delay action until I can receive instructions from Richmond, my presence here can be of little importance in any emergency, for the average time consumed in asking for and receiving instructions or replies of any kind is at least ten days so great is the pressure of correspondence on the Department.

Was there no emergency to justify my act? Aside from the rumors with which the public ear was filled, the Governor of Georgia notified me of a private dispatch from Richmond announcing that the mammoth fleet of the enemy was intended for Brunswick, on this coast.

The same information was dispatched directly to me by Hon. Howell Cobb and by the Secretary of War, the latter on the same day, through after I had sent my agent to Richmond. Under these circumstances, had the enemy obtained a footing on this coast for the want of a force