HDQRS. DEPT. OF VIRGINIA, SEVENTH ARMY CORPS,
Fort Monroe, Va., October 18, 1862.
Actg. Rear-Admiral S. P. LEE,
Commanding North Atlantic Blockading Squadron:
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt, on my return from Washington, of your three communications, one of the 11th and the other two of the 15th instant.
In regard to permits for vessels with return cargoes from Norfolk, I do not see how I can properly refuse to grant one if application is made to me under the decision of the Secretary of the Treasury. If you deem it your duty under the instructions of the Secretary of the Navy to seize a vessel having such a permit I can have no possible objection. It is a conflict between two Departments of the Government, for which neither of us is responsible. I trust, however, that no such case will arise until some proper disposition is made of the whole subject. But individuals have rights which I am bound to respect, and if any one brings himself clearly within the class of cases disposed of by the Secretary of the Treasury, who has the general regulation of commerce, I cannot put him off because the Secretary of the Navy takes a view of the question of blockade which I conceive to be at variance with all the received rules of international law. I had the honor to reply personally to the arguments quoted from one of his letters to you in your communication of the 15th.
The instructions you have given to the commander of the gunboat stationed under the guns of this fort are embarrassing the public service exceedingly. A vessel laden with coal and lumber, purchased by the ordnance officer for public use, was stopped yesterday and detained the whole day for certificates, greatly to my annoyance.
Vessels cleared to this post, unless it is regarded as a blockaded port ought not to be detained; and I believe such an interference with the military administration of this command to be entirely without precedent. It certainly was so under your two predecessors, and I consider it altogether inconsistent with the comity due from one service to the other. If you deem it your duty, under the instructions of the Secretary of the Navy, to place a gunboat under the guns of this fort, the headquarters of a military department, and subject it to all the restrictions of an enemy's port in order to enforce the blockade, I shall bring the matter before the Government without delay. If you do not, then I respectfully request that the gunboat may be anchored above the fort, and that commercial intercourse with this post may be left, as it always has been heretofore, under the control of the Treasury Department and the military authorities. All vessels coming here are boarded and their papers and cargoes examined by the officers of the revenue cutter, and they are visited again by the captain of the port, to whom they are required to report on shore and who also examines their papers. To subject them to a third visitation appears to me to be superfluous and a needless vexation. I state these facts not as having any bearing on the graver objections I have made to the system of visitation at this post but to show that it is called for by no considerations of public necessity.
The sloop A. C. Broderick was cleared from this post for Baltimore with 51 bushels of wheat, 19 hides, 100 pounds rags, 2,000 pounds of iron, and 160 bushels of oysters, and has been stopped by your gunboat. Unless you regard Fort Monroe as blockaded I respectfully submit that there is nothing in the instructions of the Navy Department which you communicated to me to warrant the detention of this vessel. The prop