Navy Department, December 9, 1862.
My Dear Sir, — I have your letter of the 3d inst. The matter of purchase of vessels fitting out in England has frequently been under discussion, and, as a matter of precaution, is expensive, as it would involve us in unlimited purchases without entirely curing the evil, since every steamer could not be obtained. There are but very few of the English steamers that escape our cruisers. I think it safe to say that not one in twenty has landed a cargo and returned safely to England.
The Kate, an iron steamer, has been the most successful, and she could not cross the ocean. She has just been lost at Wilmington by running into the obstructions at New Inlet. With regard to two ironclads (one at Glasgow and one at Liverpool), I think it very important to purchase them if they can be obtained for money. Mr. Welles favors the idea, and Mr. Seward simply urges it. If Mr. Upton could do this, I think it would be well to send him out. If you will talk the matter over with him, and it seems feasible, Mr. Upton had better come on. No one but Mr. Seward, Mr. Welles, and ourselves need know it. Their vessels fitting to run the blockade can be disposed of, but the ironclads (if rumors in regard to them be true) are a more serious matter, deserving of instant action at any price, since we have not a port North that can resist an ironclad of very moderate power.
SOURCE: Sarah Forbes Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Volume 1, p. 341-2