mariners, seamen, tugs, and instruments as may be necessary for the purpose, keeping an accurate account of the expenses incurred in executing this order, and reporting the same and his action to this Department.
EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
AUGUST 15, 1864.
The inclosed copy of an order signed by Prof. Joseph Henry and B. U. Keyser, esq., chief clerk of the Light-House Board, describe the vessels referred to in the Secretary's order.
I am, sir, &c.,
E. D. TOWNSEND,
TREASURY DEPARTMENT, OFFICE LIGHT-HOUSE BOARD, August 13, 1864.
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: In the absence of the other members of the Board, I have the honor to give you the following information in regard to light-vessels for the Potomac, as requested by yourself in our interview of to-day. The Board has been frequently urged to place two light-vessels in the Potomac, one at Upper and the other at Lower Cedar Point, since at present much delay is experienced by transports and other vessels navigating that river on account of the absence of these aids to navigation. We are informed that vessels arriving at these points at nightfall are obliged to come to anchor, and so remain until daylight. These points were prior to the war occupied by light-vessels, which in April, 1861, were destroyed by the enemy. The Board immediately contracted for the construction of three vessels, two of which were intended to replace those destroyed. These vessels were built in accordance with the contract, and on completion were turned over to the Board, and the consideration money, &47,500, paid, but before they could be entirely fitted and removed from the place where they were built, viz, New Bedford, Mass., they were seized by the civil authorities to satisfy certain claims for labor and material on them due by the contractor. This occurred upward of a year ago, and although the Light-House Board has made various efforts to adjust the difficulty, the boats still remain in the possession of the civil officers. The amount of the claims is understood to be about $16,000, to satisfy which either one of the vessels would be amply sufficient, since a single vessel of the same class and description costs now $36,000, as per bids opened to-day.
In view of the foregoing, and also of the fact that a delay of several months must occur before other vessels could be prepared, it does not seem proper that three vessels should be detained from such an important public service when one is sufficient to satisfy the claim.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Member Light-House Board.
B. U. KEYSER,