[Inclosure Numbers 1.]
UNITED STATES FLAG-STEAMER BENTON, Off Island Numbers 10, March 30, 1862.
Commodore H. WALKE,
COMMODORE: You will avail yourself of the first fog or rainy night and drift your steamer down past the batteries on the Tennessee shore and Island Numbers 10 until you reach New Madrid. I assign you this service, as it is vitally important to the capture of this place that a gunboat should soon be at New Madrid for the purpose of covering General Pope's army while he crosses that point to the opposite or to the Tennessee side of the river, that he may move his army up to Island Numbers 10 and attack the rebels in rear while we attack them in front. Should you succeed in reaching General Pope, you will freely confer with him and adopt his suggestions, so far as your superior knowledge of what your boat will perform will enable you to do, for the purpose of protecting his force while crossing the river. You will also, if you have coal and the current of the river will permit, steam up the river when the army moves for the purpose of attacking their fortifications. Still you will act cautiously here, as your own will be the only boat below. You will capture or destroy the rebel steamer (gunboat) Grampus and the transports, if possible, between this place and [Island] Numbers 10 at such time as will not embarrass you in placing yourself in communication with General Pope at the earliest possible time after leaving this place.
On this delicate and somewhat hazardous service I assign you. I must enjoin upon you the importance of keeping your lights secreted in the hold or put out, keeping your officers and men from speaking at all, when passing the forts, above a whisper, and then only on duty, and of using every other precaution to prevent the rebels suspecting that you are dropping below their batteries.
If you successfully perform this duty assigned you, which you so willingly undertake, it will reflect the highest credit upon you and all belonging ot your vessel, and I doubt not but that the Government will fully appropriate and reward you for the service which I trust will enable the army to cross the river and make a successful attack in rear, while we storm the batteries in front of this stronghold of the rebels.
Commending you and all who compose your command to the care and protection of God, who rules the world and directs all things, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. H. FOOTE,
Flag-Officer ANDREW H. FOOTE,
Commanding Naval Forces on Western Waters:
SIR: I have the honor to inform you that this vessel and the Lex-