The Department will probably have known, on the 12th instant, the result of the attack In my despatch of the 11th instant, dated off Charleston, the Department was made aware of my withdrawal with the ironclads, from the very insecure anchorage inside the bar, and just in time to save the monitors from an easterly gale, in which, in my opinion and that of their commanders, they would have been in great peril of being lost on Morris Island beach. Their ground-tackling has been found to be insufficient, and from time to time they have dragged even in close harbors. I have since been doing all in my power to push forward their repairs in order to send them to the Gulf, as directed, but I presume that your despatch of the 11th instant, and the telegraphic message from the President, revoke your previous order. I shall spare no exertions in repairing, as soon as possible, the serious injuries sustained by the monitors in the late attack, and shall get them inside Charleston bar with all despatch in accordance with the order of the President. I think it my duty, however, to state to the Department that this will be attended with great risk to these vessels from the gales which prevail at this season, and from the continuous fire of the enemy's batteries, which they can neither silence, nor prevent the erection of new ones. I have deemed it proper and due to myself to make these statements, but I trust I need not add that .I will obey all orders with the utmost fidelity, even when my judgment is entirely at variance with them, such as the order to re-occupy the unsafe anchorage for the ironclads off Morris Island, and an intimation that a renewal of the attack on Charleston may be ordered, which, in my judgment, would be attended with disastrous results, involving the loss of this coast. I am, however, painfully struck by the tenor and tone of the President's order, which seems to imply a censure, and I have to request that the Department will not hesitate to relieve me by an officer who, in its opinion, is more able to execute that service in which I have had the misfortune to fail—the capture of Charleston. No consideration for an individual officer, whatever his loyalty and length of service, should weigh an instant if the cause of his country can be advanced by his removal.
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