The expedition alluded to is the one in which I am now engaged, and which, in the words of my instructions, is "to re-enforce and hold Fort Pickens, in the harbor of Pensacola." Having made requisitions for aid, which have not, as I understand, been complied with, I very respectfully request that you will inform me whether you consider the foregoing instructions of the President obligatory on you, and if so, whether you are or I am to be the judge of the necessity of the required aid.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U. S. S. FRIGATE NIAGARA,
Off Fort Pickens, June 17 [18?], 1861.
Colonel HARVEY BROWN,
Commanding Department of Florida, Fort Pickens:
COLONEL: The communication of this date which I have had the honor to receive from you has caused me no little surprise. In it you state that you have made requisitions upon me for aid, which have not been complied with. May I ask the favor of being informed what those requisitions are, and when and how made, as I am ignorant of them. You inquire whether I consider the instructions of the President obligatory on me; and if I do, whether I am, or you are, to be the judge of the necessity of the required aid. In reply I have to state that I do consider the instructions of the President obligatory, unless I should receive orders of later date from the Navy Department than the letter of the President, as it is to be inferred that the Secretary of the Navy is cognizant of the order of the President. I would here observe that I am not only willing but anxious to render all the aid in my power. I desire, however, that all applications for aid may be made in writing. I avail myself of this opportunity to request that you will inform me in what position this ship can be placed in order to render the most efficient aid in case of an attack of Fort Pickens.
I am, colonel, respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. W. McKEAN,
U. S. STEAM FRIGADE NIAGARA,
Off Fort Pickens, June 20, 1861.
Colonel HARVEY BROWN, U. S. Army,
Commanding Department of Florida, Fort Pickens, Fla.:
COLONEL: I have thwledge the receipt of your communication of the 19th instant. After the receipt of your communication of the 23rd [25th] ultimo.* I sent Lieutenant Guest, the executive officer of this ship, to call upon you and point out the great importance of my proceeding to Mobile, and to say that in the cvent of a summons or an attack on Fort Pickens, the distance being short, a steamer could be sent for me, and I could be here in a few hours. He informed me that you made no objection to this, and I therefore proceeded to that place. On my return to this place on the 12th instant I requested Captain Adams to say to you that as the flag officer was hourly expected, and I should in all probability be ordered to some other point immediately upon his arrival, I would prefer not making any arrangement in
* See VOL. I, p. 418.