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[241] measure so important; and it is for Congress to decide whether, on a favorable report, they will order one or more iron-clad steamers, or floating batteries, to be constructed, with a view to perfect protection from the effects of present ordnance at short range, and make an appropriation for that purpose.

It is nearly twenty years since a gentleman of New Jersey, possessing wealth and talent, projected the construction of a floating battery, and the Government aided the work by a liberal appropriation. The death of this gentleman a few years since interrupted the prosecution of this experiment, and application has been recently made by his surviving brother, the authorities of New Jersey, and others, for additional means to carry it forward to completion. The amount asked is of such magnitude as to require special investigation by a competent board, who shall report as to the expediency and practicability of the experiment before so large an expenditure should be authorized.

increase in clerical force.

An increase in the clerical force of the Department is indispensable, and its organization may be in some respects modified and improved. The present session having been called for special purposes, it may be deemed inexpedient to enter upon general legislation; but the greatly increased labor renders it necessary that there should be a temporary increase of clerks, and I would, in this connection, and as a part of this improvement and addition, recommend an Assistant Secretary of the Navy, on whom might be devolved many of the details that now occupy no inconsiderable portion of the time of the Secretary, and from which he might be relieved.

The Levant sloop-of-war, Commander Wm. E. Hunt, sailed from Panama in May, 1860, for the Sandwich Islands, for the purpose of inquiring, at the suggestion of the Department of State, into the disbursement at those islands of the fund for the relief of destitute American seamen. She reached her destination safely, and the investigations were conducted by Commander Hunt at the ports of Honolulu, Lahaina, and Hilo. The last official intelligence received by the Department from the Levant was a communication from Commander Hunt, dated Hilo, Sept. 3, 1860. He expected to take his departure in a short time for Panama. Not arriving at that port by January, Flag-Officer Montgomery despatched the steamers Saranac and Wyoming in search of her. The latter visited the Sandwich Islands and various localities on the route, making every possible inquiry for her. But no tidings of her were obtained, although it was definitely ascertained that she had sailed from Hilo on the 18th of September, 1860, direct for Panama. All hopes for her safety have long since been abandoned, and it now devolves on Congress, as in previous instances, to make such legislation as may be just and proper for the benefit of the families of the lamented officers and crew who perished with her.

The following captures of vessels engaged in the Slave-trade have been made since those mentioned in the last annual report of this Department:

Bark Cora, captured on the coast of Africa, Sept. 26, 1860, by the United States sloop Constellation, Capt. J. S. Nicholas, with a cargo of 705 Africans, 694 of which were delivered to the United States agent at Monrovia.

Brig Bonita, captured on the coast of Africa, Oct. 10, 1860, by the United States steamer San Jacinto, Capt. T. A. Dornin, with a cargo of 750 Africans on board, 616 of which were delivered to the United States agent at Monrovia.

Brig Tuccoa, captured on the coast of Cuba, Dec. 20, 1860, by the United States steamer Mohawk, Lieutenant Commanding T. A. M. Craven.

Bark Mary Kimball, captured on the coast of Cuba, Dec. 21, 1860, by the United States steamer Mohawk, Lieutenant Commanding T. A. M. Craven.

Ship Nightingale, captured on the coast of Africa, April 21, 1861, by the United States sloop-of-war Saratoga, Commander Alfred Taylor, with 961 Africans on board, 801 of which were delivered to the United States agent at Monrovia.

The Cora and Nightingale were sent to New York; the Bonita to Charleston, and subsequently to Savannah; and the Tuccoa and Mary Kimball to Key West, and delivered into the custody of the proper officers.


In discharging the duties that pertain to this Department, and which have devolved upon it during the brief period it has been intrusted to my hands, I have shrunk from no responsibilities; and if, in some instances, the letter of the law has been transcended, it was because the public necessities required it. To have declined the exercise of any powers but such as were clearly authorized and legally defined, when the Government and the country were assailed and their existence endangered, would have been an inexcusable wrong, and a cowardly omission. When, therefore, the Navy was called into requisition to assist not only in maintaining the Constitution and to help execute the laws, but to contribute in upholding the Government itself against a great conspiracy, I did not hesitate, under your direction, to add to its strength and efficiency by chartering, purchasing, building, equipping, and manning vessels, expanding the organization and accepting the tender of services from patriotic individuals, although there may be no specific legal enactment for some of the authority that has been exercised.

Submitted herewith are supplemental estimates from the several bureaus to meet deficiencies in the appropriations for the naval

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