Doc. 197 1/2. Message of Gov. Brown, of Ga.
Executive Department, Milledgeville, Nov. 19, 1861.In response to the call made upon me by the Senate, I herewith transmit copies of such correspondence between me and the Secretary of War, relating to the defence of the coast of Georgia, as is, in my judgment, proper to be made public at the present time. By reference to this correspondence it will be seen that I have, from time to time, since the middle of April last, urgently solicited the Secretary of War to place upon the coast of this State such force as was necessary to the protection and security of our people. While his responses to my various calls have been kind and conciliatory, promising the protection which might be needed, his sense of duty has caused him to withhold as large a force as I have considered necessary, or the embarrassments by which he has been surrounded have rendered it impossible for him to do what his sense of propriety dictated. The Convention of this State, in March last, passed an ordinance transferring the forts and arsenals acquired from the government of the United States to the Confederate States. At that time there were not sufficient guns and ammunition in either of the forts for its successful defence against a heavy attack. No steps were taken, so far as I know or believe, by the Confederate Government to place additional guns, shot, shell, or powder in the forts, and I was compelled to purchase the necessary supplies with money taken from the treasury of the State, and to place them at the disposal of the Confederate general in command, or to permit the forts to remain in a condition that they might fall an easy prey to the attacks of a hostile fleet. In this supply I expended over one hundred thousand dollars. As the Confederacy was not prepared with troops to take charge of the forts immediately after the passage of the ordinance, they remained in possession of Georgia, occupied by her regular troops, till these troops were transferred to the Confederacy, 1st May last, when they passed into the possession of the Confederate authorities, together with the heavy guns and ammunition placed in the forts by the State. No compensation has yet been made to the State for these supplies. I also transferred to the Confederacy the arsenal at Augusta, with all the guns acquired from the United States which were in the arsenal at the date of the passage of the ordinance requiring the transfer. The guns previously taken from the arsenal with which to arm our volunteers, and which I was not required to transfer, have all gone into the service of the Confederacy, in the bands of Georgia troops, together with all the small arms purchased by the State, except those now in possession of our State troops. About twenty thousand arms belonging to the State have in this manner gone into the Confederate service. The exact number cannot be given, as the State's arms were frequently carried to Virginia in the hands of volunteer companies belonging to independent regiments, of which I have no account, as they were frequently seized and carried out of the State without my knowledge or consent. I consider all the guns which have gone into the Confederate service in the hands of Georgia volunteers, except those mentioned in my letter to the Secretary of War, which were taken from the arsenal after the passage of the ordinance for its transfer, to be still the property of this State. No compensation has been paid to the State for the guns, about twelve thousand in number, which were transferred with the Augusta arsenal, nor do I understand that it was the intention of the Convention to require the Confederacy to pay a pecuniary compensation for the guns which had been acquired from the United States, and which were required by the ordinance to be transferred, any more than it was their intention that pecuniary compensation should be paid by the Confederacy to the State for the forts and arsenals. The Convention, by the ordinance, transferred the title of the arms then in the forts and arsenals to the Confederacy, but left it to the discretion of the Executive whether he would transfer to the Confederacy the other arms belonging to the State. I did not think it best to transfer the title to all our small arms to the Confederacy, but I permitted them all to go into the service as State arms. The steamer Savannah, which cost the State forty thousand dollars, was transferred to the Confederacy for twenty thousand dollars in cash, and twenty thousand dollars in Confederate States bonds. The money and bonds received in payment have been and are being expended  by the Quartermaster-General of the State for supplies for the troops and for other military purposes. The Secretary of War refused to purchase the steamer Huntress, which cost the State fifteen thousand dollars in New York. The steamer was in the possession of Commodore Tattnall in the State service, and after he entered the Confederate service he retained, and still retains, the possession and management of her in the inland waters of this State and South Carolina. I hope to be able to transfer this steamer also to the Confederacy at a future day for the amount she cost the State, to be paid for in Confederate bonds or notes. I transmit a copy of the correspondence between myself and the Secretary of War relative to the transfer of the forts, arsenals, and arms. In response to that portion of the resolutions which relates to the present number of Confederate troops now on our coast, I have to state my information is that there are about five thousand five hundred. In addition to this number ten thousand others will, in my opinion, be necessary to repel the invasion and defend the coast. I may also state that General Lee expresses a desire that I hold a reserve of ten thousand men in camp, in readiness to reinforce the Confederate troops on the coast at any time when needed. The estimate made in my annual message of the amount necessary to sustain our military operations for the present fiscal year was based upon a smaller number of troops. If ten thousand State troops are to be called into the field, my opinion is an appropriation of at least five millions of dollars will be necessary. I believe the correspondence herewith submitted will furnish a sufficient reply to the other points contained in the resolutions. During the summer months the State was not invaded, and I could not say that the danger of invasion was so imminent as to admit of no delay. I did not feel, therefore, that I was at liberty to call out and maintain a heavy force on the coast on State account, or that it was my proper province to take charge of the erection of the necessary fortifications. This duty, under the constitution, properly devolved upon the Confederate government, and I did not feel at liberty to assume the exercise of powers which properly belonged to that government. Early in September I visited the seaboard, and found only about three thousand Confederate troops stationed there to defend the city of Savannah and about one hundred and ten miles of coast. I considered this force entirely inadequate to the task. As the correspondence will show, I had repeatedly offered to supply a larger number of troops if the Secretary of War would make requisition upon me for them, for our defence. He had not thought proper to increase the number beyond that above mentioned, and there was no requisition upon me for any additional number. The season was so far advanced that I considered the danger too imminent to admit of further delay, and I considered the force too weak to make even a respectable show of resistance to an invading fleet as large as the Government of the United States was likely to send upon our coast as soon as they could venture in our climate. Under these circumstances, I did not feel that I would be justified should I longer delay active preparation for our defence in organizing State troops and holding them in readiness in case of attack, to act in concert with the small Confederate force upon the coast. I have, therefore, called out the State troops, as it was my duty to do, under the act of the last Legislature; and I shall have completed the organization of the first division within the next few days. As the General Assembly has already been informed, the military appropriation is exhausted, and it will be impossible for me to maintain the troops in the field much longer unless further appropriations be made. Since the commencement of the session some of the articles necessary to supply the army have risen over twenty-five per cent. in the market. Whether the further delay in procuring the supplies which must result from withholding the appropriation is compatible with the public interest, is a question which demands the serious consideration of the General Assembly. I am aware that it may be insisted that the Confederate Government shall take upon itself the entire expense of our defence. It is admitted that this is correct in principle, and the willingness of that Government to do its duty to the State, to the extent of its ability, is not questioned. Thus far, however, the Confederate Government has not placed upon our coast a sufficient number of troops for our protection, and the question presented for our present consideration is, whether we will assist the Confederacy and defend ourselves, or wait till the Confederacy is prepared to defend us, and risk the disasters which may, in the mean time, befall us on account of the delay. My own opinion is that it is not now the time to stop to count the cost, but that we should call out as many troops as may be necessary to repel the invader, should he appear either upon the sea-coast or upon the borders of Tennessee. Whether it may take ten thousand or twenty thousand men, or whether it may cost five or ten millions of dollars, I ask, in the name of the people, that their representatives place at my command the men and money necessary to accomplish this object.
To the Senate:
To the Senate: