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Letter from the Gulf shore.

Picayune Butler and Mobile — the defensive condition of the city-- the land forces — the Harbour Forts and batteries — the Mississippi coast, &c., &c.,

Mobile, Jan. 7, 1862.
We can still boast, as when citizens of the old Union, ‘"we are a great country,"’ and we realize that we still are, and that we are waging a great war for our great country, when the mind makes a tour of the points of military interest. Starting from the camp dotted borders of Virginia in the Northeast, it traverses a frontier of a thousand miles westward, or around three thousand miles of coast to the mouth of the Rio Grande; and Mobile is but little more than midway between Richmond and Fort Brown and yet either seems remote and is really distant. Such is the magnificent sweep of the fair to heritance of the Southron, and his embattled lines in its defence are magnificently to keeping, being some four thousand miles it length.

Along these lines new points of special interest are constantly springing into notice as the fretful enterprise of the enemy attempts here and there to break through the cordon of our defences. Picayune Butler made Hatteras Inlet of notorious interest, Sherman made Hilton Head Island a point of note, and now again the ‘"here of Hatteras"’ is said to be about to confer celebrity upon Mobile, as he and his ‘"ancient"’ Phelps, the muddleheaded Abolitionist Brigadier, have done for Ship Island. Said Ship Island is not so far from Mobile as some nervous citizens would wish.

When Picayune gets his big guns mounted on his newly christened ‘"Fort Massachusetts"’ on Ship island, a Southwest wind will bear the reverberations of their hostile voices even to our ears; a crow would fly but about sixty miles or so from its battlements to perch on our church spires. Picayune has arrived at his base of operations with a good portion of his invincible Yankee army, and is supposed to be meditating a grand coup in some direction on the adjoining mainland. A detachment of his command has already landed without opposition at the pleasant seacoast town of Biloxi, Mississippi, opposite the Island and some eleven miles distant, and carried off two undefended cannon — doubtless to be forwarded at once by dispatch steamer and paraded as trophies from the soil of Jeff Davis's own State, the spoil from a captured ‘"city,"’ and Bennett's Herald will at once congratulate its readers on a ‘"crushing blow being struck at rebellion."’

If Butler attempts a movement on Mobile from the rear, he will desire to make a landing at some point on the coast of Mississippi Sound from twenty to forty miles distant from the city. With his launches he may effect a landing almost anywhere on that wilderness shore — and then his troubles will begin. His army would encounter natural difficulties of approach which would puzzle an enterprising coon raised in the country. All the obstacles which can be interposed by bayous, rivers, swamps, and tangled thickets would be his to encounter — not to mention the circumstance that a brave and numerous army holds this difficult road at every advantage and has been impatiently waiting the opportunity of greeting him for many weeks.

‘"Little-more-grape Bragg"’ is Major General of this department, and under him, in command of the army which occupies the above position, are Generals Leroy P. Walker and Jones M. Withers. I will mention that one item of their command is six companies of field artillery. No trifle, this item, when it is considered that every battery may be ‘"masked"’ in the most slaughtering position at every mile of the distance from coast to city. Would a million Yankees be valorous enough to attempt to run such a gauntlet of ‘"masked batteries?"’ The tear is that Picayune will not give us a chance at his forty thousand stout cordwainers, spinners and weavers, who, though the ‘"trade of the South is not worth having"’ find soldiering for rations the most profitable business now left to them.

But then Picayune may essay to repeat his bombarding operation at Hatteras, at the mouth of the harbor, so as to make a water approach to the city. He will find this just as agreeable an experience as an advance by land. There are two full-grown forts of the most powerful description--Forts Morgan and Gaines--besides sundry batteries of the best description, whose heavy armaments bear directly on every foot of the channel, and would drill an approaching ship with ten-inch Columbiad holes, and shatter her with our improved sixty-eight pound shell from rifled Columbiads — These forts and batteries are manned by between four or five thousand of the best drilled troops in the Confederacy, two of the regiments being citizen soldiers from Mobile, who are regularly in the Confederate service for coast defence, and have been some months on duty. So when I write you news of fighting at Mobile, I will write to tell you that the Battle Flag of the Confederacy waves victorious to the Gulf breezes. Make a noise on't, for future reference in proof that I am a better prophet than Seward the Raven, the ‘"Medicine Man"’ of abolitiondom.

It is to be regretted that the operations of the enemy along the Mississippi coast are not checked, and the some half dozen pleasant watering place towns saved from devastation. Their occupation is of no material moment and doubtless the invaders will not be opposed. It is unfortunate that the Mississippi coast has not been made a military department, for it is more than Gen. Mansfield Lovell can do to look after this extended field, and the vast coast of Louisiana; also it would be better if Gen. Bragg's supervision included it, and yet it would be almost too much for him, so important are his duties here and at Pensacola. The Alabama portion of the coast of Mississippi Sound is included in Bragg's department, which terminates at the Pascagoula river. Mobile, within his department is in effect menaced by the operations of the enemy in Mississippi beyond the Pascagoula, though they would have to march far inland to get across that river. Therefore, the Mississippi coast should pertain to his department rather than Lovell's, for operations from the sound coast scarcely menace New Orleans in a remote degree, separated as it is by the irrepassable width of Lake Pontchartrain. Something active should be done on the Mississippi coast, for the people have all fled, leaving much of their negro property, etc., exposed to the marauders. Our forces should picket down very close to the shore and not remain too far inland — and the same vigilance generally be observed as is on the coast this side of the Pascagovia by Bragg's forces.


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Bragg (4)
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