[special Correspondence of the Dispatch.]
Norfolk, Va., June 2d, 1861.
We are at length able to say that we are ready for the vandals, though, for the last few weeks, we have been held very uneasy, for fear they would come down on us and find us unprepared to repulse a force of three to one; but now, let them come — we will be glad to manure our lands with their vile carcases.
Being ready, I will tell you somethings about our readiness, but there are some things which we will not tell even to our friends; but should our enemies be disposed to find them out, why let them come, and they will be astounded.
‘"No inventive genius among the Southerners,"’ ‘"no energy,"’ ‘"no activity,"’ and many other such flattering epithets, we are used to. Circumstances develop men. Heretofore we have been content to hire, with our superfluous money, the ingenuity of the Yankee
; but now, how different.
This unholy war, forced on us to enable them to continue to rob and cheat us, has brought out more talent than I ever dreamed could be found among us for contrivances.
Only yesterday I witnessed the working of a heavy 11 inch gun mounted on a carriage constructed on a plan submitted by Mr. Meeds
, carpenter of the Yard
, and built in four days. Two men can sweep this monster gun around the eastern horizon without the slightest jar or vibration, and those who work her are entirely covered from the shot of an enemy.
In a week we will have several 10-inch and a goodly number of solid shot guns mounted in the same way; and then let the Yankee Doodles
look out. I only wish they would make an attempt on our harbor with their ships for there are some of us who have sailed in those identical mammoth steam frigates, and know to an inch where to plant our shot; and we know, too, that there are other magazines to be blown up besides those that contain powder.
Our furnaces for hot shot, of which we are supposed to have known nothing, will each of them (and we have plenty) keep twenty-five shot to a white heat.
In our sea-coast batteries we have a large number of guns mounted, and there is one very tender point of the harbor where several large copper-colored oysters, holding in their shells 250 lbs. of gunpowder, have been planted, with good ranges, by which to explode them, with a nice little wire, led into one of the batteries, and only requiring a small ‘"contact"’ to hoist the batteries.
At this very tender point no less than six batteries, with 120 guns, will amuse them.
Really, Mr. Dispatch,
I wish you could come down and see some of your mountain boys handle these heavy 9, 10 and 11-inch guns, to say nothing of the 8-inch and 42 and 32-pounders.
I have spent over thirty years in drilling men, but I never yet have seen such apt scholars.
The reason is that their hearts are in the work.
They want to learn, and thus encourage their instructors to bend every effort to teach them.
I saw batteries drilled yesterday by men who never saw a heavy gun until a few weeks since, and they managed them as well as I have seen men do the same work after six months of daily drills.
So much for the water; now for the land If ever we get the Doodles entangled in our swamps and marshes, we will give you a Flemish account of them.
They evidently want to land in the neighborhood of Burwell's Bay
, and try to cut off our railroad.
Well, may be they can do it, but we
don't think they can. All the country thereabouts is well cut up and marshy.
The roads pass through heavy woods, and you know we are good hands at cutting down trees about them, and I rather guess they will find it hard to move their artillery over our big trees with several thousands of tip-top riflemen close at hand, who will shoot horses and officers in particular, and Yankees in general.
Besides, we have batteries of Light artillery hereabouts, rifled guns, and 24-pound howitzers, which the vandals thought they spoiled by bending the screw, as we poor Southerners have no brains.
Under Col. Pemberton
, of the late U. S. army, these batteries will soon be equal to any in the world.
I know that Heaven is with our cause.
we see it in a thousand ways; in the organization of our Flying Artillery--one great difficulty with us was to make the harness, no one here having ever seen a set. Col.
P. had to attend to every detail, when ‘"Heaven with us,"’ a gentleman here, had an entire set, bought at Old Point
, after the Mexican
war, which not only equipped a battery, but taught our harness makers a thing or two.
On the Norfolk
side, we are more than anxious for them to try us. Should they move all the trees out of the roads which they will be likely to find there, under the fire of some good shots and force our men back, they will find entrenchments, with heavy guns, that I did not think could have been constructed in a year.
They might cross Tanner's Creek
with the pontons, which they have brought on so secretly that we have not found it out, if it were not for several snug little concealed batteries of 42 pound cannonades on our side of the river, which reach up to our entrenchments.
If they wish to cross the Indian Pole Bridge
, they must remember that it is a told-bridge, and we have a small ‘"lete du Ponte,
"’ where we will collect, and besides, you know we got ‘"right smart"’ of powder on the memorable 19th of April. If they can send 20,000 men to Sewell's Point
to try to take it in the rear, they may possibly succeed, if they are willing to plant half of their men there, for our trenches and earthworks there are rayther
strong, our boys behind them, somewhat in earnest, and these 42 pound cannonades of the old Delaware line of battle-ships which they did not spike, are very good guns for quick firing, with grape and cannister, and we will soon have shrapnel for them also, and if we only get them into confusion once, and raw troops even in a good cause, sometimes get flurried, and our cavalry and guerillas get among them in our woods, swamps and marshes, ‘"we shall see what we shall see."’