of Vicksburg by my order this morning, in consequence of receiving an urgent request from Admiral Farragut for their assistance to aid him in keeping the river open from Vicksburg to Port Hudson, and in destroying the enemy's communications from Red River, and also for the purpose of passing troops over the river to Warrenton, to aid in the destruction of the formidable batteries now being constructed at that point.
The boats started before daylight. You have been misinformed of the passage being made in open day. It is true that, in consequence of the injury that the boats sustained, they did not get past before the sun had risen, yet, if they had not been injured and obliged to float, they would have made the passage before it was fully light.
The Lancaster, I regret to say, is a total loss. Her boilers were exploded, and being a very rotten boat, she went to pieces and sank immediately. She was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John A. Ellet. the Switzerland was commanded by Colonel Charles R. Ellet in person, who also commanded the expedition. She received a number of shots, but, being a stronger boat, was not much injured. Her boiler was exploded by a plunging shot; in other respects the damage was not material. She will be repaired in a few days, and is in a position where I trust she will be able to redeem whatever of mishap has attended the passage of the Vicksburg batteries.
ALFRED W. ELLET,
OFF FLAG-SHIP AUTOCRAT,
Via Cairo, April 13, 1863 -5. 25 p. m.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of this date.
A detailed report of the loss of the Lancaster on the morning of the 25th instant [ultimo] before Vicksburg was sent to you by mail the following day, together with a copy of the letter from Admiral Farragut asking the aid of two rams and one iron-clad gunboat.
Admiral Porter was absent. Captain Walke would not take the responsibility to respond, not having yet reported to Admiral Porter, and, conceiving the case to be one of urgent necessity, I offered to take the responsibility, and send the Lancaster and Switzerland. Admiral Farragut gladly accepted the offer, and the boats went.
I do not conceive that I acted against orders, not having yet received any orders from anybody, except those emanating direct from your Department, to report to Admiral Porter for duty as soon as my brigade was formed.
If my acts meet with your approval, I shall little regard any efforts of other to misrepresent me.
I will forward you immediately duplicate copies of my report and Admiral Farragut's letter by mail.
ALFRED W. ELLET,