Series: (Series 577, State Governors’ Incoming Correspondence, 1857-1888)
Page 3 of 4
January 12th 1861
Gov. F. W. Pickens
I arranged with the Secretary of War for the purchase of five thousand U.S. muskets to be delivered in Charleston and appointed Col. McKay [D. L. McKay] Prest of the People’s Bank (with whom the payment was deposited) my agent to receive and forward the same. The failure to carry out consummate the arrangement was caused by the delay in making the application as the enclosed communication will explain. It is due that I should inform your Excellency that when in Charleston on my way to Washington I consulted several prominent citizens of that city as to the propriety [end Page 1] of my purchasing a portion of the arms of the U.S. in the arsenal at Charleston, giving as a reason the known difficulty in procuring arms by the time my State would need them. It was the opinion of the gentlemen consulted that no objections would be urged against the proposition. Without this favorable opinion (unauthorized of course) I would not have made the application. I do not in any wise consider that I have any claim whatever upon the State of So. Col. for the fulfillment of a contract entered in by an others?, nor would I withdraw the arms from the State if fully authorized so to do, if Carolina needed them more than Florida. We are almost without arms, and no immediate prospect of furnishing the State, and if you can spare the muskets consistent with the safety of your citizens, you would enable me to confer a great favor
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upon the citizens of Florida.
Fort Pickens at Pensacola has been put in a State of defense. Fort Barrancas abandoned and the munitions shot, shell etc. conveyed to Fort Pickens. Her United States store ship “Supply” and Steamer Wyandotte are in port and actively cooperating in the movement. Fort Barrancas and the Navy Yard could be taken but could not be held subject in its unoccupied condition is useless. The Navy Yard may be taken but could not be held subject as it is to fire from Ft. Pickens and the ships. I made an effort to reoccupy the efforts at Pensacola but failed to organize the means in time—Mr. Spratt will explain all. I have taken possession of the Chattahoochee Arsenal and Ft. Marion at St. Augustine.
It is impossible to over estimate [end Page 3] the importance of our possessing the fortifications at Pensacola. A strong naval force situated there may control the commerce of the Gulf. It is in fact a key position. Georgia and Alabama will cooperate with Florida. I have requested the Hon. L. W. Spratt [South Carolina’s secession commissioner to Florida] to explain the condition of affairs to your excellency fully, and to inform me of your decision as to the muskets. I had deposited the money with the Peoples Bank for the payment to the United States, but have been compelled to use six thousand dollars in the movement attempt to occupy by stratagem the Forts at Pensacola. I will pay the price agreed on with the Sec. of War (two dollars and a half a piece) as soon as Bonds can be sold to raise the sum. I write in great haste not as fully as I would desire.
M. S. Perry