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Text for Page 114 [08-13-1861]

              103
       Fort Jefferson on �The Dry. Tortugas.�

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
stic good-nature, allowed us to go ashore under cer-
[t]ain restrictions � the main one being that we should
not converse with anybody.  Accordingly, we had a
look at the interior of Fort Jefferson.  It was worth
[s]eeing.
   Approaching it in a boat, over the beautifully
transparent water, which looks only as many feet in
[d]epth as it is fathoms, and is bottomed with groves
[o]f white coral, its symmetry at first deceives you as
[t]o its proportions.  It covers an area of 13 acres.
Surrounded by a posse or moat excavated to some
slight depth below the coral-reef foundations, its
boundary forms a strong sea-wall, resisting the ag-
[g]ressions of the ever-restless ocean.  On entering by
a sally-port, the visitor begins to comprehend its
plan and magnitude.
   It is a regular hexagon, with two short sides oppo-
[sit]e to each other and four long ones, all of equal
[le]ngth, entirely regular, though not perhaps quite
equi-lateral.  There are six towers, one at each
bastion, two tiers of casemates, and a topmost tier
of guns en barbette.  On the long curtain are 23 em-
brasures, with 15 or 16 on the small ones, and six
heavy guns defend the top of each bastion.  The
full compliment of guns may be estimated at about
450.  The fort is unfinished, lacking at least two
years of completion.
   Within we found a tall block of houses, their
jalousied blinds carefully loosed to exclude the light
and heat, sundry cocoanut trees, and a tall light
house, erected long antecedent to the fort.  (It is
designed to supersede its use by placing two lights
on the extreme bastions, which will triangulate
with the beacon on the Loggerhead Shoal or islet.)
A walk on the ramparts revealed huge caldrons,
loose bricks, staves, mortar, and all the orderly
litter of building on an extensive scale.
  The fort is at present garrisoned by four com-
panies of the 90th of New-York, under Lieut.-Col.
Tinelli; it contains also 188 workmen employed by
the Engineer Department.  Apropos that title, I
must here mention that none of the mutineers of the
Volunteer Engineer Regiment (Col. Serrell�s) are or
have, for some time, been at the Tortugas, as gen-
erally supposed.  Their present locality is Key
West.  The health of the garrison of Fort Jefferson
is excellent.  Exposed to the always welcome sea-
breezes, it could not be otherwise.
   Gen. Terry inspected the troops and fort with a
minuteness and conscientiousness rendered doubly
creditable in consequence of his bodily indisposition,
pronouncing everything satisfactory.  Leaving our
unlucky five prisoners (one of whom, by the way,
escaped at St. Augustine, but was speedily recap-
tured), and receiving on board thirty of the 7th
New-Hampshire for transmission to Beaufort � they
had been left behind as sick men, but were now
comparatively convalescent � we quitted the Tortu-
gas, after three days delay, involving some turtle
hunting, coral gathering, and a grand chase after the
U.S. steamboat Fulton, in which the Delaware be-
haved nobly, catching up with her competitor at ev-
ery disadvantage, and affording us the treat of re-
cent New-York newspapers.  What that amounts
to, you must be out of the world for two weeks to
appreciate.
   On the fourth day we returned to Key West, find-
ing the harbor lively with vessels, some riding vol-
untary quarantine, others awaiting a disengaged
wharf, as was our case for twenty-four hours.  Yes
terday we began taking in coal, to-day is devoted to
ammunition and a battery, to be conveyed to Hilton
Head.  To-morrow, as stated, we start for Port
Royal.

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
   The yellow fever is still here, exciting a good deal
of alarm among the inhabitants, who volunteer the
most contradictory statements regarding it.  The
medical men assert that it is not virulent.  Within
a day or two I hope to be possessed of accurate data
on the subject; until then, I give rumor as rumor.
   There are only three companies of the 90th New-
York garrisoning Fort Taylor.  I regret to add that
Gen. Terry�s health does not admit of his personally
inspecting them.  Twelve months of hard work in
the Southern Department has told upon him, though
I am sure he would not wish to be anywhere but
where he can serve his country.  He has done so,
most effectively, in his present command.  I wish
we had a thousand officers like him, as quiet, as
hard working, as self-respective, as good soldiers in
the Hodson sense of the word.  I should feel all
the surer of the trampling out of this infernal rebel-
lion, now more than ever portentous.
   We do not go ashore too much, the heat debilitat-
ing everybody, and the attractions of Key West
being but limited.  In fact, we all desire coolness
rather than anything else, with the solitary excep-
tion of our purser, who is as affectionately disposed
toward the fair sex as he is corpulent, which is say-
ing a good deal.  He sighs unceasingly for the beau-
ties of St. Augustine, and is credibly reported to
have invested sums in the purchase of shoes for their
especial benefit.
   I will close with an item, and a story of a tempest
in a tea-pot.  Item: To-day, in a vessel recently
captured off Mobile, while attempting to run the
blockade for that grand rendezvous of contraband
trading, Nassau, New-Providence, was discovered
snugly concealed under the cotton forming her cargo
three 12-pounders, and a considerable quantity of
grape-shot.  The presumption is that they were in-
tended for the fitting out of some C.S. privateer,
lying perdu somewhere in the Gulf.
   Now for the lilliputian tempest.  Not very long
ago there existed in Key West a one-ass newspaper
of decidedly Secesh principles, known as The Key
of the Gulf.  Moved by an editorial audaciously
commencing with the words, �That flag must come
down!� in allusion to the national banner over Fort
Taylor, Gen. French immediately squelched the
nuisance.  To it succeeded The New Era, under the
management of the Quartermaster of the 90th New-
York, a paper loyal enough, but not particularly in-
teresting or grammatical.  Its last issue contained
what the people here designate �an Abolition edi-
torial,� highly offensive to a Mr. J. Filer, spoken of
as �one of our wealthiest citizens;� and this Filer,
being secretly one of the proprietors of the paper,
manifests his indignation by buying out the three
others, shareholders, denouncing them to Gen. Mor-
gan, commander of this post, as ex-stock owners of
the rebellious Key of the Gulf, and proclaiming his
intention of stopping The New Era.  Do you care
to hear the names?  They are J. B. Brown, ex-
United States District Clerk; W. H. Wall, now in
New-York, and W. C. Pinckney, in Fort Taylor, or
on his way thither.  We may probably accommo-
date the amiable Filer with a gratis passage north-
ward.
   Key West is very much excited about this business.
I have heard it asserted that some of the cocoanut
trees have shed their fruit in an untimely manner in
consequence.  In the mean time, The New Era is
still to gladden the inhabitants of what it terms
�this lovely but exposed island.�               
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