their supplies, and the wages of their officers and hands, and especially as the delay of a single day in the blockade business may cause an actual delay of sometimes two to three weeks because of the absolute necessity of availing yourself of a suitable night, and not undertaking it unless the weather and the moon are both suitable. Nor do I apprehend that there is really any risk in keeping this small stock here or at Wilmington. I mentioned this to-day to General Beauregard, to whom I had the honor of presenting the letter you furnished me, and he thought that such an arrangement was very proper and important. General Beauregard, I am happy to say, thinks the scheme a very good one for the Government. The quantity of cotton kept here should be 2,500 bales and at Wilmington 1,500 bales. It would cost the Government no more to keep it here than where it does, and it would, I expect, be much better kept, as better storage could be obtained.
In this connection I beg leave to suggest that it is eminently to the interest of the Government that the cotton exported under this arrangement should be as far as possible of the best quality, and I fear that much of the cotton belonging to the Government has been much injured. A very important matter connected with this enterprise will be the proper trim of the steamers, as without it the speed of which they are capable cannot be obtained. To do this well it may be necessary sometimes, as well as wise in other aspects, to send out some Sea Island cotton, rosin, turpentine, tobacco, and possibly some few other articles. If this should prove so, will these articles be purchased by the Government, or shall I purchase and ship them as the balance of the invoice?
In regard to my fifth inquiry, in relation to the orders for the goods of Collie & Co. and Crenshaw & Co. to be admitted free of duty, I beg leave to request that the order be sent me as soon as possible (as from the information which I received here from Messers. Collie & Co. 's agents I should not be surprised that the first steamer arrived within the next week), and in such manner as will accomplish the purpose, but at the same time for the reasons before referred to prevents its being known that the Government is importing. It seems to me this concealment is absolutely necessary, as the steamers are to be sailed and their cargoes to be held in the name of Collie & Co., British subjects, with a view to endeavor to render them more secinquiry related to coal; and I beg leave to say that it will be necessary to keep 300 tons of coal here and 150 at Wilmington. After this is delivered, to be kept on hand, very little, if any more, will be needed, because the steamers will obtain coal at Nassau sufficient to bring them in and carry them out; but inasmuch as it sometimes happens that a steamer will be chased off and thus compelled to expend her reserve supply, so to speak, it is absolutely important that a supply should be on hand for such contingencies. A steamer will consume about thirty tons of coal per day. I am more than ever satisfied of the entire feasibility of the scheme about to be inaugurated, and am confident that if pushed with judgment and energy it will redound greatly to the advantage of the Government. I was informed before leaving Richmond by the Hon. Mr. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy, that he had the same arrangement for articles in his line that you had effected. It may be necessary, therefore, in effecting the final arrangements to see him concerning the questions which I have herein had the honor to submit. In view of the importance of the