Page images

de l'Huys the great importance of preventing the sailing of these vessels, as French vessels, from a British port, by any neglect of the French consul there, or any fraudulent contrivance or management on the part of French citizens. He said if I would supply him with papers or evidence indicating the real ownership and purpose of these iron-clads, he would have some grounds to act upon, and would see that the French consul at Liverpool was properly on his guard. I therefore had full copies made of the letter of our consul at Liverpool, and all the affidavits he had supplied to the British government on this subject, and enclosed them to the department of foreign affairs here.

Last night I received from Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys a letter in reply, a transla tion of which is herewith enclosed. If the statements by Mr. Bravay, referred to in the letter, be true, that he has bought these iron-clads for the Pacha of Egypt, and they are delivered, we will have made an important escape, not from the iron clads only, but from what is, in my judgment, still more important, from further questions with England on this point for the present.

The French government has in this matter acted openly, and will, so far as can be now seen.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


His Excellency WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Sr., &c., &c.


Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys to Mr. Dayton.

PARIS, August 25, 1863.

SIR: I have received, with its accompaniments, the letter which you did me the honor to write to me of the date of the 22d of this month on the subject of two iron-clad vessels which are being constructed at Birkenhead, near Liverpool. Since the interview, which you are pleased to recall to me, a French merchant, M. Bravay, has addressed himself to my department, to make known to me that these vessels had been purchased through his agency on the account of the Pacha of Egypt. He claimed at the same time the support of the embassy of his Majesty in England in order to be able to send them to Alexandria.

I have answered that the ships in question having a foreign destination, the French agents had no authority to intervene in this circumstance with the British administration, and that it belonged only to the Egyptian government to make to the English authorities the justifications necessary to authorize the going out of these ships. I have written in the same sense to the embassy of the Emperor at London, as well as to the consul of his Majesty at Liverpool.

Accept the assurances of the high consideration with which I have the honor to be, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant,


Minister of the United States, Paris.


No. 339.]

Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.

PARIS, August 27, 1863.

SIR: The steamer Florida, for the want of a clear bill of health, was at first, as I am informed, put in quarantine at Brest. Our vice-consul at that port now telegraphs me that the quarantine was raised last evening and her twenty-four

passengers landed. These passengers were the persons taken from the last ship which this piratical craft had burned. The ship burned was the Anglo-Saxon, of New York, Captain John M. Cavarly; loaded with coal; bound from Liverpool to New York; sailed August 17; burned on the 21st, about twenty-five miles southeast of Cork. This is the account given by the captain, if I understand the telegraphic despatch aright. Our vice-consul is, of course, looking

after the wants of the seamen who have been landed.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

[blocks in formation]

SIR: I have received your three despatches, namely, No. 329, under date of July 30; No. 332, of August 4, and No. 333, of August 5.

Under the uniform aspect of our domestic affairs, the matters presented by these papers may safely pass unnoticed.

You will perceive that the course of events in Mexico is giving rise to much speculation, as well in this country as in Europe, and this speculation takes a direction which may well deserve the consideration of the Emperor's government, for it indicates a disposition in some quarters to produce alienation between this country and France. This government has said nothing upon the subject, except what is contained in a previous communication made by me to yourself, and it lends no materials or encouragement to the debate to which I have referred.

I have told you in a previous despatch that the interests of the United States in Texas are not overlooked. I have now to add that preparations have been made, which, as I trust, will be effectual in establishing the national authority in that State.


am, sir, your obedient servant,



No. 391.]

Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.


Washington, September 1, 1863.

SIR: I herewith enclose an extract from a despatch of the 26th of July last, addressed to this department by James R. Partridge, esq., minister resident of the United States to Salvador, with regard to his proceedings in relation to British and French interests there.

You will embrace an early opportunity to make these proceedings known to the French government, and, at the same time, state to it that they have been approved by the government of the United States.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM L. DAYTON, Esq., &c., &c., &c.


No. 340.]

Mr. Dayton to Mr. Seward.

PARIS, September 1, 1863. SIR: Lest our vice-consul at Brest may have neglected to send you a copy of the sworn statement of Captain Cavarly and others of the ship Anglo-Saxon, of New York, lately burned at sea by the Florida, I herewith send you the copy of such statement, sent by the vice-consul to this legation.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


His Excellency WILLIAM H. SEWARD, &c., &c., &c.

Statement of John M. Cuvarly, master of the ship Anglo-Saxon, of New York, captured and burned by the privateer Florida.

BREST, August 25, 1863.

On this 25th day of August, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty-three, before me, J. M. Kenos, vice-consul of the United States of America for Brest, personally appeared John M. Cavarly, late master of the American ship called the Anglo-Saxon, of New York, and declared as follows:

We sailed from Liverpool on Monday morning, August 17, 1863, bound to New York We had strong gales from the west to NW. till Wednesday morning, when we took the mid at N. NW. Passed Tuskan light-house on Wednesday night. Thursday, light winds from the NW. all day; ship standing to the W. SW.

Friday morning, August 21, at five, the second officer came to my room and said there was a steamer near us coming towards the ship. I went on deck at once. The ship lay becalmed; her courses were hauled up. The steamer came under our stern, hailed the ship, and asked where from and where bound. He then sent a boat on board the ship; told me to take my papers and go on board the steamer.

I went on board the steamer; the captain took my papers and looked at them; he then said: Your ship is a prize to the confederate steamer Florida, Captain Maffitt. He told me to take my clothing-my ship's company the same-and come on board the Florida at once. I then asked him to bond the ship. His reply was, my cargo was a contraband of war; he should burn the ship.

They took all the provisions, sails, cordage, canvas, &c., they wanted from the ship, besides my two chronometers, barometers, all my charts, sextant octant, in fact all the nautical instruments belonging to the ship, besides some spars, and many other things. They did not allow any of my crew or officers to take their trunks or chests.

When my ship's company were on board, all but myself and my officers and cook were put in irons. I had a channel pilot on board when the ship was captured. We both judged the ship to be twenty-five miles from Queenstown At noon on Friday, August 21, after they had taken all they wished from the Anglo-Saxon, they set my ship on tire, aud fired two broadsides of shot and shell at her. The Florida then steered to the SW; spoke two vessels the same afternoon; both were British, and refused to take their prisoners On Sunday morning saw the land, which was Ushant. In the afternoon anchored in the harbor; were quarantined till Monday afternoon, when we were landed in Brest. The American consul took charge of myself, officers, and crew

And together with the said master also came Arthur Snow, chief officer; W. Parmer, second mate; B. Balls, third mate; John Brown, Carpenter; George Brown, seaman, of and belonging to the said ship, all of whom, being by me duly sworn, did severally, voluntarily, freely, and solemnly declare that the above statement is according to the truth. In testimony whereof, they have hereunto subscribed their names; and I, the said viceconsul, have granted to the said master this public instrument under my hand and the seal of this vice-consulate to serve and avail him and all others whom it doth or may concern as need and occasion may require.

[L. S.]

KENOS, United States Vice-Consul.




I, the undersigned vice-consul of the United States, do hereby certify that the foregoing copy is true and faithful.

[blocks in formation]

SIR: I have supposed it might be of interest to you, or to the Navy Department, to learn something in detail as to the present conduct and future prospects of the rebel steamer Florida, now in the roadstead at Brest.

I had, some days since, an application for aid in behalf of a French shipper, who had a heavy and just claim for damages against this vessel, and which claim, he was advised by his counsel, could be enforced against her in law. This claim, properly prepared, could detain her in port, as alleged, for some six months at least. To become better informed upon this question, and other matters as to the ship, I requested Mr. Bigelow, our consul here, to go with the claimant to Brest. This he immediately did. I am not yet able to say whether any legal claim can be enforced, or whether the vessel can be detained to answer for it. Our vice-consul at Brest, a most intelligent gentleman, doubts if it can be done; but, in the mean time, I learn through a letter from him, and another from Mr. Bigelow, that the Florida is yet in the roadstead, awaiting permission to be taken into a government dock or basin for repairs. The mere commercial accommodations at Brest are, it seems, not sufficient for her purpose. In the mean time it is supposed that the French are consulting with the British authorities with a view to a joint action or understanding as to what the two governments should do in such cases. Captain Maffitt, of the Florida, says he came into a French port for repairs instead of an English one, because, by the rule adopted by England, he was excluded from entering another of her ports for three months after he had left Bermuda, which time had not yet expired. He represents the copper on the bottom of his ship as badly torn by her striking against a rock, or some obstacle, in making his escape from Mobile. He wishes to copper her bottom, re-calk her, repair her machinery, and get coal. Our vice-consul at Brest thinks it very important that she be taken into the basin or dock-yard for repairs, which he thinks, from their necessary character and extent, will detain her at least four or five months. It is ascertained that her shaft is so badly sprung, or at least out of line, that it has raised her deck. Early and extensive repairs are, it is said, indispensable; and Captain Maffitt says the machinery of her engine is of such a nature as to make it necessary to send to England for workmen, the French artisans not understanding it. He complains that Brest "is a dreadful slow place;" says "they promised to have the dock ready for his ship some days ago, and that it is not ready yet." The men were getting ready to land her powder on Monday or Tuesday last, and knocking out the heads of some casks to put it in. The Florida consumed the last of her coal in coming to Brest. By the way, the Anglo-Saxon, which she burned in the channel, was loaded with coal; and Captain Maffit told Captain Cavarly (when he asked the privilege of bonding his vessel) that coal was contraband of war, and he would burn her as quick as if she were loaded with gunpowder. But it is not to be doubted that the Florida will claim the right to coal anew in the French port. I am informed that the crew of this vessel are of all nations, but mostly English and Irish; not more than two Americans in the whole, and they both Boston boys taken off a prize. Mr. Maffitt, having been long on the coast survey, says he is well acquainted with the ports and

harbors of the north as with the cabin of his ship; that but for the failure of Lieutenant Reed (the man who entered Portland harbor and ran off with the Caleb Cushing) to co-operate, he would have gone to some of the principal northern ports and burned them; "but," he added, "I will wake some of them up there yet." The above statements come directly or indirectly from Captain Cavarly, of the Anglo-Saxon.

I have to-day had a conversation with M. Drouyn de l'Huys upon the subject. He says they are much annoyed that the Florida should have come into a French port. But having recognized the south as belligerents, they can only deal with the vessel as they would deal with one of our ships-of-war under like circumstances. They will give her so much aid as may be essential to her navigation, though they will not provide her with anything for war. I stated that she was a good sailer, and really needed nothing in the shape of repairs to machinery, &c., &c., to enable her to navigate. He said that if she were deprived of her machinery, she was pro tanto disabled, crippled, and liable, like a duck with its wings cut, to be at once caught by our steamers. He said it would be no fair answer to say that the duck had legs, and could walk or swim. But he said that, in addition to this, the officers of the port had reported to the government that the vessel was leaking badly; that she made water at so much per hour, (giving the measurement,) and unless repaired she would sink; that this fact coming from their own officers, he must receive as true. They said nothing, however, about her copper being damaged, but reported that she needed calking and tarring, if I understood the French word rightly. I then asked him if he understood that the rule in such cases required or justified the grant of a government dock or basin for such repairs, especially to a vessel like this, fresh from her destructive work in the channel, remarking that, as she waited no judicial condemnation of her prizes, when repaired in this government dock, she would be just at hand to burn other American ships entering or leaving Havre and other French ports. He said where there was no mere commercial dock, as at Brest, it was customary to grant the use of any accommodations there to all vessels in distress, upon the payment of certain known and fixed rates; that they must deal with this vessel as they would with one of our own ships, or the ships of any other nation, and that to all such these accommodations would be granted at once. Under these circumstances, you may, I suppose, take it for granted that the Florida will remain at Brest for repairs-long enough, probably, for you to get a vessel-of-war over here. She not unlikely means to connect herself with the two iron-clad rams at Liverpool; and if so, I fear they would have power enough to go into any of our ports. The question will naturally present itself, had you best institute a blockade of the vessel in this port? I have given you the facts, and this question will be for the consideration of the Navy Depart

[blocks in formation]

I am informed that the Florida was saluted by a British national ship when she entered Bermuda. When she entered Brest, no formal salute was given, but I learn that a French ship lying there dipped her colors. I am not familiar with the distinction in these maritime courtesies, and only state the facts. I am informed that Captain Maffitt was short of hands, and held out large inducements to the crew and to some officers of the Anglo-Saxon to join his ship, (to wit, a bounty of $50, and $20 to $22 per month,) but although they were generally foreigners, none of them yielded to the temptation.

Herewith I enclose you a slip cut from the Moniteur of this morning, indicating the policy of the government on this question.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Secretary of State, &c.


« PreviousContinue »