Your disposal of the cotton at Nassau, even at 22 cents, would be satisfactory, and I am much pleased that you declined shipping it on advances to New York, as such a disposal of it would be the subject of much censure.
The Northern Government has, as you will have been informed, submitted to the peremptory demand of Great Britain for the surrender of Mason and Slidell, and thus there is no prospect of immediate hostilities b powers, although everything portends the rupture of their friendly relations at no distant day; still, we cannot wait for such eventualities, and must now abandon any hope of having the Gladiator convoyed, and rely on ourselves alone for getting in her cargo.
The Fingal is still very closely blockaded in Savannah, and, indeed, the whole attention of the enemy seems to be diverted to that port, and they appear to rely principally on their stone fleet for the blockade of Charleston. At Brunswick, in Georgia, there have been no enemy's vessels in two months past. The fort is a fine one, and there is a railroad leading directly to Savannah. At Wilmington there is hardly a show of a blockade. At Georgetown, S. C., hardly any risk. If a vessel could manage to approach any one of these ports so as to make the least sixty or seventy miles of her run during the night, there is scarcely a chance of her capture.
We have no news in the army way. The entire force of our enemy, vast as they are, remain paralyzed before us at every point on our extended frontier, and apart from a few marauding excursions by predatory parties who rarely venture beyond the cover of the heavy guns of their shipping or intrenchments, we scarcely know that we are at war. With greatly inferior numbers we hold them in check everywhere on the mainland, and no example in history more strikingly illustrates the impossibility of conquering a country whose inhabitants are resolute in defense, no matter what may be the disparity of numbers and available means.
I hope this letter will reach Charleston in time for the Carolina, which is soon to be followed by another steamer owned by Messrs. Fraser & Co.
Yours, very truly,
J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War.
[JANUARY 5, 1862. - For Benjamin to J. E. Johnston, in relation to newspaper publications, & c., see Series I, VOL. V, p. 1020.]
[JANUARY 5, 1862. - For Benjamin to Milton, in relation to organization of troops in Florida, & c., see Series I, VOL. LIII, p. 210.]
HOUSTON, January 5, 1862.
Colonel J. GORGAS,
Chief of Ordnance Department, C. S. Army:
SIR: I found on my arrival here that Messrs. R. and D. G. Mills had, in accordance with arrangements made with them as I passed through here on my way to Richmond, already on the way to Mexico