PITTSBURGH, March 29, 1862.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
DEAR SIR: I with to give you my views as briefly as possible.
It is said that the enemy have eleven gunboats below Island Numbers 10, and, as I understand, they are supposed to have others, fitted up as rams, ascending the Mississippi, one of which has reached Memphis.
I propose to strengthen the hulls of some of the swift, strong, coal tow-boats-which I am told can only be obtained here-and fit them up, as speedily as possible, to be used as extempore rams, to go down to Island Numbers 10, or any other stronghold of the rebels, and at a proper time, during the contest, when the rebel gunboats seem to be in a favorable position, run down before the batteries and drive our rams at full headway into the rebel boats-doing what I can, by preliminary preparations, to save the men if our own boats should be sunk.
These boats, the rivermen here say, will all make 18 or 20 miles an hour down the Mississippi. It will be very difficult to hit them at that speed, and I will try to protect the engines and boilers against any ordinary shot.
It is not impossible that I can so strengthen our own hulls as to sink any Mississippi boat we can hit fairly and yet save our own.
I seek good boats, and do not intend to make alterations which will injure them materially for future use, if they are not lost in the service.
If successful in sinking the rebel gunboats at Island Numbers 10, I would proceed down the river and lay our boats up under General Pope's guns.
I shall need a few strong and swift tow-boats of a smaller class, and these would then be used as pickets, to watch the approach of the rams or other hostile boats below New Madrid.
I may need, also, one or two large old boats, to shelter our rams in running under the enemy's batteries.
This is about my plan to meet the present condition of things, though the conditions may change materially before I am ready.
To carry out the plan we ought to have at least as many boats as there are boats to be run down. Indeed we ought to have more. No boat can stop to strike twice, and some may not hit their adversaries fairly or may get the worst of it.
The men must take service with a full knowledge of the dangerous nature of the duty-the enemy's fire being the least of the dangers.
I would like to be authorized to assure them that their names will be reported to the Secretary of War, who will recommend them, if they do well, to the President and Congress. I think this will be valued more than specific rewards.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHAS. ELLET, JR.