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John Poor Transcript
To his Excellency, Israel Washburn, Jr.,
This news of the seizure of the rebel commissioners, Slidell and Mason, reached Washington the 16th of November, the same date as the letter of the Secretary of War, assuring you of the determination of the President, and promising the needed plans, estimates and specifications for the defences of Maine. The excitement consequent to that arrest, and the pressure of the claims of other parties, for similar purposes, on the Engineering Department, has caused delay to this time, of the promised Report on the defences of Maine.
We have felt it our duty to remind the Secretary of War of the urgency of our necessities and of your request. We have also advised the Commanding General of the extreme urgency of the case, and to ask him to cause earth works to be erected at the entrance of the harbor so as to cut off the approach of ships of war into the main ship channel. In case it cannot, both may be done under your direction.
The urgency of your appeals for immediate action, under dates of the 16th and 17th inst., moved Gen. Ripley to put forth extraordinary efforts for the temporary defence of Maine, and 100 guns of 32-pound caliber were ordered from Fortress Monroe to New York, for your State, 240 guns of 42-pound caliber, lying at Boston, was assigned for the defence of Portland, of which your were promptly advised, and Capt. Rodman, of the Ordnance, dispatched to Maine, to arrange for the Armaments of its Forts.
The estimates for fortifications submitted by the Engineer Office of the 31st of October last, were subsequently amended, by Gen. Totten, by adding $50,000 for Fort Knox, $50,000 for Fort Gorges, to be expended in the current financial year, ending June 30, 1862. A Bill reported from the Committee of Ways and Means proposed these sums, and $100,000 additional, for each fort, in the following year, 1863.
The guns just made at Portland, for the War Department are to be mounted in place, on the forts in Maine, as fast as ready for service.
An unexpended appropriation of $100,000, for the commencement of a Fort at the mouth of the Kennebec, withheld by a former Secretary of War, has been made available by the prompt action of the present Secretary and the construction of Fort Popham, -- appropriately named for the distinguished man, who, as Governor, led the first colony into New England and laid his bones within the limits of Fort St. George, on the site of the new Fort proposed, in 1607, -- is to be pushed vigorously forward.
That a profound interest is awakened to the importance of the defence of Maine, is fully shown by the earnestness of the delegation in Congress, and the zeal shown by the citizens of Portland, whose mayor has officially visited Washington to urge upon the Administration and upon Congress the plans of defence you have had the honor to propose.
It is to be hoped that the zeal and diligence of our delegation in Congress will enable them to secure all the important ends, proposed in your official note to the President,
It may be doubted if the federal government will need to avail itself of the offer of aid from the states, towards perfecting the public defences; such is now the earnestness of all parties to preserve and protect the loyal States in this time of anxiety and fear. But we earnestly recommend, that in view of her past history and her present commanding position, that Maine promptly respond to the invitation of the President, and by the passage of the necessary acts of legislation, place at his service such moneys as may be required, to make each work of defence in Maine perfect, upon the conditions by him proposed in the official note of the Secretary of War.
With assurances of highest respect
We have the honor to be
December 28th, 1861amlin
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