Letter from the Gulf shore.Picayune Bailer and his great ‘"Expedition of the Southwest"’--running the blockade — the schooner ‘ "Widder,"’ alias ‘"an drexella"’--the fight for her — slaughter of Yankees — burning of the ‘ "Jerrie Richards"’--success of the ‘"Loene" ’ and the ‘"Glara"’--an incident at sea — Launch of the Wonderful gun boat ‘"Morgan"’ --the Cotton planters make a Discovery, &c.
[Special correspondence of the Dispatch.]
Mobile Feb. 1, 1862.The case of Picayune Butier's great ‘"Expedition of the Southwest, "’ which left Yankeesdom with such a flourish of trumpets and such magniloquent boastings of doughty deeds intended, furnish is no exception to the manner of large beginnings and small endings which has characterized all the heavy undertakings of the enemy since the war began. The yankees would have fairer prospect of accomplishing the little task of subjugation prescribed for themselves, if they could only reverse their programme, and talk small and do large, instead of talk large and do small. My last letter to you was on the 11th ult., and few then doubled that are this dats Butler, who had then been some time at Ship Island with his expeditionary forces, would have made some demonstration in some direction on our coasts. But the coarse of cowardice or the demon of procrastination afflicts the fellow and his fellows, and he has done nothing yet. Week after week has passed, until hope of a fight deferred almost sickens the impatient spirits of our soldiers. Two weeks ago Butler evaluated the Island in great part, and was gone, no one knows whither, with the great body of his forces for about ten days. He left two or three thousand sick on the Island. Now he is back again, the spies tell us, with ten or twelve thousand of his Yankee Paladins, and his anchorage is crowded with many all of shipping. The poor devils are discovering that it is no holiday sport to rough it on the Gulf coasts in winter, with no dry camping ground, no good water, and no chances of plunder. The bad water, the bad weather, and the lack of fresh grub, have made the hospital department the most important branch of the ‘"Expedition of the Southwest."’ The elements, led to the attack by the great Commander of the Universe, are our firm allies, and do the work of shot and shell quiet effectually. Set down the ‘"great expedition of the Southwest"’ as another Yankee Jasco. McClellan might further carry out his grand strategy of ‘"diversion,"’ and still find that quadruple the force he has yet been able to place in the Gulf would not divert one man from the Army of the Potomac. We have enough and to spare at every point of importance, to hold it against any force. Since my last, a lively business has been done by the ‘"blockade breakers,"’ with mixed success. I may not say how many vessels have successionally get out of port, nor may I say what have successfully got in, except such as the enemy know of as well as we. One has been captured about 18 miles from the mouth of the harbor. She left mobile and escaped to Havana as the schooner ‘"Wilder,"’ the property of Confederate owners. She was there sold to a British subject, was re- christened the ‘"Andrewetts,"’ and took out a clearance for Matamoras. Not happening to sail in that direction, how ever, she was one morning discovered lying aground close into the shore of Alabama by the blockaders. They sent boats to take possession; but, when they approached, were fired on by members of a Mobile cavalry company, the ‘"City Troop,"’ lying in ambush on the shore, and were driven off with the loss of one of their boats, and many killed and wounded. Later in the day, they made another effort with all the boats and launches of two large steamers, conveying between two and three thousand men. The Confederate troopers fought them until their ammunition was exhausted, when a hawser was carried out to a steamer and the schooner hauled off — a costly prize, for twelve bodies of slain Hessians have since drifted ashore, and doubtless many drifted to sea, or were carried off by their comrades. The bodies were of those who jumped or fell overboard when shot, or were dead in the boat which was capsized in the confusion of the fight by the panic- stricken wretches. The schooner has been claimed by an agent of the British Consul here, under a flag of truce, but has been sent North by Flag Officer McKeon for adjudication. You will find the points of the claim for rendition, or for subsequent indemnity, set forth at length in a late issue of the Advertiser and Register, of this city, as I suppose that so desirable a journal is on your exchange list. Another schooner, the ‘"Jessie Richards,"’ loaded with cotton, grounded in running out of the harbor at night, and being in range of the blockaders next morning, was burned by her crew to prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy. The crew escaped to shore in their boats. The schooner ‘"Clara"’ arrived safely from Havana in this port a few days before. Another schooner, the ‘"Leone," ’ accomplished no less a feat than running the blockade with a valuable cargo. A passenger by this schooner relates an incident of the perilous voyage from Havana, which smacks considerably of the romance of the seas. On the night before they approached the coast, when dark and ugly weather prevailed, a little stir was heard on deck which brought him up from the cabin. The schooner was rolling in the trough of the sea, with her sails shivering, and looming out of the darkness like a phantom ship, scarcely more than two cables, lengths a way, was the great black bull of a Lincoln cruiser — a steamer — darting rapidly past, her guns grinning from her open ports, and men discernible on her deck by the light of the ship lanterns. The crew of the little schooner held their breath in suspense, and moved not until the danger was past, fearing that a whisper, or the creaking of her tackle, or the flapping of a sail, would betray her presence. The precaution of having no light aboard, save that in the binnacle, alone, saved the schooner from being discovered by the watch of the steamer. A splendid gun-boat. christened the ‘"Morgan,"’ as she touched the water, was launched day before yesterday. She was planned and constructed by Mr. H. D. Bassett, a Confederate States naval constructor, and all those who know anything about the merits of a vessel, say that if she does not establish his fame as a naval architect he will not have his deserts. Her lines are the perfection of all the points which are considered pre-requisites of speed and strengths and a more beautiful craft never floated. That she is a perfect wonder of shipwright skill, you will allow when I tell you that tough her tonnage is over nine hundred tons, builders measurement, her draught, with machinery, armament, stores, coal, and crew on board, will be scant five feet. Yet she is sharp as the sharpest clipper afloat, and will carry an armament which many an old- fashioned sloop-of-war would stagger under. I would like to give a more particular description, but I am fearful that I might be guilty of making our loyal-malls transport information contraband under the threatened act of Congress. I only wish that Mr. Secretary Mallory could see this remarkable vessel, so well built in so brief a time. I think he would order two or three dozen like her at once, and put, Bassett at the head of his whole corps of naval architects, The Morgan is 202 feet extreme length, and 38 feet 8 inches beam. She was launched with her machinery on board. Another gun-boat of about the same size, but of a different model and by a different constructor, will be launched here in a few days. There is another naval ‘"arrangement"’ in progress here, too, but I believe I'll say no more about it. is a State job, for Alabama intends to have a navy as well as army. This is one of the ‘"State's right"’ developed by this war. The war is causing our planters to make very remarkable discoveries. They have found out — at least some of them have for many refuse to believe — that something else beside cotton can be made on their plantations. Finding they no longer have Northern agriculturists, stock and dairy men, to depend upon they are actually condescending to make their own meat, hay, potatoes, butter, &c. And more some of them than they can consume, and are actually sending their surplus to market, Strange, but true, nevertheless. Consequently, the prices of the greater and lesser articles of supply have begun steadily to slide down the scale of quotations, and provisions are cheaper.--Bacon has crawled down to twenty cents, and butter thirty cents--the one article better than that cured in Suckerdon, and the other pretty nearly as good as that churned in Orange county. Hay is more plentiful than any one ever believed it could be, and the provision prospect generally begins to look more favorable for the preservation of the lives of such persons as subset by the consumption of victuals — a habit to which we are all more or less addicted. Patriotism on an empty stomach is rather a heavy drag to the best disposed; but no such draw back can henceforth prevail in the Cotton States of the Confederacy. Victuals plenty, and good Choctaw.