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Flag Officer William W. McKean to Gideon Welles, Concerning Brigadier-General Phelps' Declaration, December 27, 1861

U.S. S. Niagara, Boston Navy Yard, September 1863
Brigadier-General John Wolcott Phelps' declaration to "The Loyal Citizens of the Southwest" three weeks before had caused controversy for its outright condemnation of slavery as both unconstitutional and an economic and moral affront to the nation. Soon after its publication, the New York Times reporter Elias Smith approached naval officers in the Mississippi Gulf area proposing that the declaration be transported to the mainland under a flag of truce so as to circulate it among the "loyal population." This request was passed up to the officer commanding the squadron blockading Mississippi Sound who refused the request outright and reported the matter, along with a copy of General Phelps' proclamation, to the Secretary of the Navy in Washington. (By John Osborne)