War of the Rebellion: Serial 026 Page 0438 NORTH CAROLINA AND S. E. VIRGINIA. Chapter XXX.

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borough, and Admiral Wilkes no such system of visitation was instituted, and there is no reason why it should be adopted now. On the 18th instant I called the attention of Admiral Lee to the subject in a letter, of which the following is an extract:

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 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.

To this remonstrance I have received the following reply:

You wish me to remove the gunboat from her anchorage outside or 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 where these have merchandise for traffic detain them to be reported to the Department.

In another part of this communication Admiral Lee says:

The North Atlantic blockade extends from the Piankatank River, on the western shore of Virginia, to the coast of South Carolina, excepting the harbor of Beaufort, N. C., the blockade of which has been raised by proclamation of the President. Within these limits I am required to maintain a strict blockade and to prevent all traffic, except under a permit from the Secretary of the Treasury, War, or Navy.

My instructions to the gunboat off Fort Monroe are only to carry out 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.

From the whole tenor of this reasoning it is manifest that the admiral deems it his duty to enforce the blockade against this post. Though within the blockaded region it is a military station, occupied by the Government forces, and lacks the essential condition of a blockade - hostile possession. What I insist on is that the commercial intercourse with it shall be carried on under the usual custom-house regulations, and that the planting of a gunboat under the walls of the fort to examine vessels going to it (for vessels going into the Roads can be as well examined higher up) is altogether unprecedented, uncalled for, and now practiced for the first time since the war commenced, although the naval forces on this station have been commanded by three of the most distinguished and experienced officers in the naval service.

It is with great regret that I feel constrained to trouble you with these matters. I have endeavored by friendly correspondence with Admiral Lee to adjust them; and I might have rested still longer in the hope of success had not the communication of the Secretary of the Navy been referred to me. The whole matter, however, concerns the War Department quite as deeply as myself, involving as it does a question of authority and of comity between the military and naval services.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JOHN A. DIX,

Major-General.