my orders from the Government, and her station is safe and convenient for that purpose. Fort Monroe has never been declared a port of entry; it is situated within the blockaded region, and all vessels in the employment of the army with only army or supplies of any kind or public property on board pass freely and frequently not only to Fort Monroe but to all other points here in the occupation of the army, on a certificate from your headquarters; or, in case of a vessel coming from a Northern port, on a certificate from the United States quartermaster there, stating, in a very few words, that such is the character of the vessel and cargo. It is impossible therefore that the public service should thereby be embarrassed exceedingly, or at all; but the contrary is the case - the public service is benefitted to the extent that supplies are thus kept out of the insurrectionary region.
You say: "A vessel laden with coal and lumber, purchased by the ordnance officer for public use, was stopped yesterday and detained the whole day, greatly to my annoyance. "You refer doubtless to the Conrad Fox, which had violated the blockade, got to Norfolk without a permit from either the Treasury, War, or Navy Departments, but under an unauthorized permit from army officers (which I am expressly ordered not to respect), and with a cargo of coal and lumber brought from Havre de Grace without any clearance, for Kimberly & Bros., traders at Norfolk. The Navy Department released this vessel on the ground that she acted on supposed authority, but forbade her to land or receive cargo. To prevent any further violation of the blockade by her she was towed just outside the lower gunboat and released to go where she pleased outside the blockade, but the Conrad Fox instead of going away anchored immediately, and your ordnance officer bought her cargo. As soon as the usual certificate was sent to the guard vessel, showing that the cargo of this vessel had now become army supplies, she was permitted to pass in to unload, as I am informed by the officer commanding the guard vessel. If there was any delay about sending off the usual and necessary certificate to the gunboat it was wholly unnecessary, as you have already complained "that she is stationed under the guns of this fort" - the necessary situation of the men-of-war, our own and foreign, at anchor here - where one of your many steam-tenders might communicate with her in fifteen or twenty minutes. You wish me to remove this gunboat from their anchorage outside and below the fort to an anchorage inside and above the fort, that commercial intercourse may go on. This would be to violate my orders to maintain the blockade strictly until it is modified or raised; to this end the gunboat must be stationed where she can conveniently intercept and board vessels, and when these have merchandise for traffic detain them to be reported to the Department. When vessels with army supplies have passed the blockade and are inside discharging, I see no objection to their visitation and search by both the military authorities and the revenue officers, as gross irregularities may be detected and prevented by such additional precautions.
Since the receipt of your communication of the 19th (although I had previously reported the case of the John Francis to the Department), informing me that her cargo of goods is sent at the request of General Keyes to be sold within the fortifications at Yorktown for the use of his command there, I have directed the gunboats to let her pass.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, yours,
S. P. LEE,
Actg. Rear-Admiral, Commanding N. Atlantic Blockading Squadron.