Navy Department, January 20, 1862.
Flag-officer D. G. Farragut,
Appointed to command Western Gulf
Sir: When the Hartford is in all respects ready for sea, you will proceed to the Gulf of Mexico with all possible dispatch, and communicate with Flag Officer W. W. McKean, who is directed by the inclosed dispatch to transfer to you the command of the “Western Gulf Blockading Squadron. . . . There will be attached to your squadron a fleet of bomb-vessels and armed steamers enough to manage them, all under command of Commander D. D. Porter, who will be directed to report to you. As fast as these vessels are got ready they will be sent to Key West to await the arrival of all, and the commanding officers, who will be permitted to organize and practice with them at that port.
When these formidable mortars arrive and you are completely ready, you will collect such vessels as can be spared from the blockade, and proceed up the Mississippi River and reduce the defenses which guard the approaches to New Orleans, when you will appear off that city and take possession of it under the guns of your squadron, and hoist the American flag therein, keeping possession until troops can be sent to you. If the Mississippi expedition from Cairo shall not have descended the river, you will take advantage of the panic to push a strong force up the river to take all their defenses in the rear.
As you have expressed yourself perfectly satisfied with the force given to you, and as many more powerful vessels will be added before you can commence operations, the Department and the country require of you success. . . . There are other operations of minor importance which will commend themselves to your judgment and skill, but which must not be allowed to interfere with the great object in view—the certain capture of the city of New Orleans.
Destroy the armed barriers which, these deluded people have raised up against the power of the United States Government, and shoot down those who war against the Union; but cultivate with cordiality the first returning reason which is sure to follow your success.