Richmond, March 24, 1862

Capt. S. S. Lee,

Appointed to Command Navy-Yard, Norfolk, Va.:

Sir: You will take immediate steps to raise the Columbus and Delaware, in order to use them, if necessary, to close the approaches to Norfolk.

You will immediately place the Germantown or Confederate States, or both, if necessary, in such position as to enable you to sink one or both of them at short notice at the best point and in the best manner to obstruct the approach of the enemy’s ships to Norfolk. General Randolph thinks that either ship can be so placed to act like a swinging gate, to keep a passage open for our use and to sink the vessel at pleasure to close it against the enemy. The Virginia must not be shut in.

In these operations you must consult with General Huger, and as the completion of the iron-clad boat now in progress is a matter of vital interest, you will please avoid decreasing the contractor’s price in the operations necessary to this work.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. R. Mallory,

Secretary of the Navy