informed that the expedition on which they were to be engaged would be ready to move in about ten days. Dispatch was therefore necessary, and I sent boats which were selected as in the best condition for this service without waiting to repair and strengthen them for outside service or to furnish them with fresh-water condensers, all of which I thought could be done with less delay in New Orleans, if absolutely necessary. I suppose, however, that they could be supplied with casks or tanks and water furnished by vessels having condensers. None of the new gun-boats recently purchased were then ready or I would have sent them, although vessels with drilled crews that had been for some time in service would seem to be more effective. The disposition made was the best that was practicable under the circumstances, and I regret that the vessels are considered unsuitable for the intended service. I inclose a copy of a letter I addressed to Commodore Palmer or yourself on February 16, when the iron-clads and gun-boats were dispatched, which I presume was received by Commodore Palmer and may not have been turned over to you. The transfer of the four tin-clads was only for a temporary emergency. I shall always endeavor to co-operate with you in advancing the public interests to the best of my opportunity.
I have the honor to be, admiral, very respectfully, yours,
S. P. LEE,
Acting Rear-Admiral, Commanding Mississippi Squadron.
FLAG-SHIP BLACK HAWK, Mound City, February 16, 1865.
Commodore J. S. PALMER, or
Commodore H. K. THATCHER,
Commanding West Gulf Blockading Squadron:
COMMODORE: I have to-day dispatched the iron-clads Cincinnati and Osage to report to you, to be accompanied by four light-drafts. The turret machinery of the Osage, in which there was some defect, has just been repaired to the satisfaction of the chief engineers of the yards and the vessel and to her commanding officers. With careful usage I suppose it will stand. The sister iron-clad (the Neosho), which I had designed sending, I found on my arrival here was so much out of repair that it was impossible to prepare her for service in time. She was drooping five or six inches at each end, and her deck beams had settled over her boilers and were charged. I have therefore substituted the Cincinnati, recently rebuilt and repaired, and which is an efficient vessel except that her boilers are somewhat out of repair. Her commanding officer and chief engineer are disposed to complain of this defect, which you can have repaired, and which is not, however, of a nature to prevent her performing service. I expected to find her repaired on my return here, but she has been in quarantine with small-pox on board during my entire absence and was only released yesterday, fifteen days having then clasped since the last case of the disease. As she was my flag-ship for some time in the Cumberland, with her boiler as weak as it now is, and with small-pox then on board, her efficiency cannot be considered materially impaired. I had no other light-draft iron-clad whose condition was not much worse than that of the Neosho or Cincinnati, and I have sent you the very best I had. I think with good management they will render good service. The tin-clads are loaded from this squadron at this time with considerable inconvenience, as vigilance and strong force are required to prevent