It was my duty to report the facts as they appeared to me and in the plain manner I am always accustomed to do.
In regard to the application you make of the word "misstatement," I am constrained, general, to differ from you, through you are move accustomed to argue such matters than I am. In a legal sense "misstatement" supposes that a man may have erred intentionally or unintentionally. We know that a great many things are said in court-room that would scarcely be considered worthy of a second thought there, while such expressions used to an officer (especially of a different branch of the service, where it is desirable the greatest courtesy should exist) are very unusual and become offensive.
I do not think you are happy in your illustration of the word "misstatement," when you refer to my official report to Flag-Officer Farragut, in which I said "the steam-ram Louisiana appeared to be moving about quite lively." It was a matter of little consequence whether she was moving or not; that part of my communication was a mistake, predicated on the reports of officers and seamen aloft. It could in no way be considered as a misstatement any more than could your report that you were landing troops at quarantine, preparatory to making an attack on Fort Saint Philip, which the nature of the country absolutely forbids. I have since learned that the steam-ram Louisiana could not move lively with her own power, and I have no doubt you have since learned that an assault on Fort Saint Philip at that time was a most impracticable thing. You were only mistaken in saying you would have assaulted it, and in no way could be accused of making a misstatement, for your antecedents show that you are not afraid of placing your troops in a position no matter how hazardous. No one would therefore have a right to apply the expression "misstatement" to you in any official statement. You made it at that time as regards what you intended to do.
Conceiving as I did the word "misstatement" to be used offensively, and having been educated to look upon it in a different light from that placed upon it by you, I felt myself aggrieved and considered it as infringing my personal honor. Our word is our bond in the Navy. Affidavits with us give no more force to an assertion than it possessed when coming from the lips of a truthful man. Excuse me, general, for following your example in drawing illustrations; they are, however, as apt in one case as the other.
I should be very sorry if there should remain any cause of personal grievance between us after your explanation, which no doubt you have made with the intention of being satisfactory; as such I am content to receive it.
I trust you will consider me sincere in what I said in my letter of the 5th instant in relation to the prompt manner in which you personally acceded to my wishes. I still remain of the same opinion, and should do so even though I might consider myself personally aggrieved by you.
I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
DAVID D. PORTER,
[Inclosure No. 2.]
I, Percy F. Edey, hereby certify that on or about the 12th day of June, 1862, while acting as captain of the port, I received an order from
36 R R-VOL XV