United States. Dept. of State.

Correspondence concerning claims against Great Britain : transmitted to the Senate of the United States in answer to the resolutions of December 4 and 10, 1867, and of May 27, 1868 online

. (page 44 of 108)
Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of StateCorrespondence concerning claims against Great Britain : transmitted to the Senate of the United States in answer to the resolutions of December 4 and 10, 1867, and of May 27, 1868 → online text (page 44 of 108)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

seemed to be waiting for something or somebody to arrive. The flght
took place the next morning after the arrival of Mr. Lancaster. In
fact, the commander of the Alabama, from the time indicated in the
letter when he would be ready to flght, up to the time when it came off,
did nothing but drill his men. The repairs were all flnished, and he



merely laid at anclior, as if waiting. He could have gone out as well on
one day as another. These facts made the impression on my mind that
these two vessels were acting in concert, and that Captain Semmes was
waiting for the arrival of Mr. Lancaster before he went out to fight.
It is my firm belief that Captain Semmes was waiting for Mr. Lancaster
to arrive, and that the two vessels had an understanding and were
acting in concert. But I do not know of my own knowledge of any
communication having passed between the two vessels, or between Mr.
Lancaster, Captain Semmes, or Mr. Sinclair, before the Sunday morning
of the fight, other than what 1 have detailed above; but arrangements
could have been easily made by letter or by friends. The conduct of
both vessds justifies the inference I have drawn.

At the time of the fight there was an English schooner-rigged yacht,
called the Hornet, at Cherbourg; do not know to whom she belonged,
or her captain's name. On the 18th of June, the day before the fight,
the boat of the Hornet, about 4 p. m., went to the Alabama, and
remained until about seven o'clock in the evening, when she returned to
the yacht.

I know nothing where the chronometers were taken to. Captain
Semmes asked permission to leave them at Cherbourg, but was refused by
the custom authorities. It is understood a part of them were removed to
some vessel before the fight took place.


Consular Agent.

August 31, 1864.

William L. Dayton, jr., assistant secretary of legation at Paris, says :
About nine o'clock the yacht Deerhound got up steam and ran a
little out toward the breakwater. "After apparently observing for a
few minutes, she returned and went alongside of the Alabama. She
then stood out again, straight through the western pass, to sea. About
two miles out she changed her course, heading more toward the
Kearsarge. The Alabama then came out by the same pass, and stood
straight out to sea, the yacht running up near, and apparently commu-
cated with her.

Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.

Ko. 779.] Legation of the United States,

London, September 8, 1864.
Sir : I now have the honor to forward a copy of a note to Lord Eussell,
of the 6th instant, of the preparation of which I have already informed
you in my dispatch of last week, No. 769, of the 1st instant. In it I have
endeavored to embrace aU the principal points contained in your several
dispatches ^o. 1025, of the 8th, S'o. 1035, of the 15th of July, and No.
1069, of the 15th of August, with the exception of such as appeared to
rest on information not sufficiently authenticated at the time of writing.
In regard to the facts, I have received some additional aid from an oppor-
tunity given to rde by Mr. Morse, the consul here, to examine and to
weigh the evidence contained in several depositions lately taken by Mm.
1 have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

Hon. William H. Seward,

Secretary of State.


Mr. Adams to Earl Bussell. .

Leoation of the United States,

London, September 6, 1864.

My LoKD : I have hitherto delayed to acknowledge the, reception of
the several notes I have had the honor to receive from your lordship of
the 27th June, the 8th and 26th of July, in reply to mine of- the 21st of
June, on the subject of the interference of the owner of the yacht Deer-
hound, from a desire that the government which I have the honor to rep-
resent should be enabled, before instructing me to act, to gain as complete
information of the facts in the case as possible. It is not until very lately
that I have been placed in full possession of its views, after a full consid-
eration of the evidence connected with that transaction. I shall now
proceed to submit the substance of them to your lordship's consideration.

To the better understanding of the case, I trust I may be pardoned if
I recaU your attention to the position heretofore taken by my govern-
ment in regard to the vessel originally known as the gunboat No. 290,
and latterly the Alabama.

The circumstances attending the construction, outfit, armament, man-
,ning, and navigation of that vessel are too weU known, and have been
too fully exposed in the correspondence which I have heretofore had the
honor to conduct with your lordship, to need to be further dwelt upon.

I am instructed to say that, in view of all these, my government adheres
to its previous declarations, and does not recognize the Alabama as a
ship of war of a lawful belligerent power.

In connection with this point, and to guard against injurious inferences,
it is proper for me to add thatthe proceeding of Captain Winslow, in parol-
ing and discharging the men who fell into his hands, has been formally

Your lordship will now permit me to call your attention to the statement
made by me in my former note. It was in substance this : That whilst
engaged in a successful effort to destroy this piratical vessel, and to cap-
ture her crew, the owner of a British vessel belonging to the Eoyal
Yaclit Association, being a spectator, so far interposed his aid as to effect
the escape of certain members of the crew well known to be the chief
agents in the navigation of that vessel, and most bitter enemies of the
people of the United States.

I regret to be compelled, after a survey of all the evidence since pro-
duced, to repeat this allegation, and to superadd another which appears
still more grave, to wit, that this was done by him in connivance with
the very of&cer and boat's crew of the Alabama who had first been
sent to the commander of the Kearsarge, for the purpose of surrender-
ing them aU as prisoners of war.^ Neither does it relieve this transaction
of any of its gravity to know that the ofiScer commanding that boat was
timself a British subject.

Your lordship is pleased to remark, in your note of the 27th of June,
concerning the act of the owner of the Deerhound, that he appears to
have performed only a common duty of humanity in saving from the
waves the captain and several of the crew of the Alabama, who would
otherwise have been drowned, and thus would never have been in the
situation of prisoners of war.

Unfortunately for this hypothesis, it does not appear that the owner
of the Deerhound did rescue the principal persons from drowning. The
only individual whose safety he appears to have taken pains to secure
was Captain Semmes. The evidence seems to show that much the greater


proportion were rescued by the commanders and the crews of the enemy's
three boats, the principal one of which had been sent to the Kearsarge
to make a surrender and to ask for aid to rescue them. It further
appears that after authority had been given to perform this common duty
of humanity, great efforts were made to select the chief enemies of the
United States, and transfer them, not, in accordance with the obligation
originally incurred, to the Kearsarge, but to the hands of the owner of
the Deerhound, another British subject, who had likewise been asked to
assist, but who, instead of laboring further in the cause of humanity, hast-
ened at once, on the reception of these obnoxious persons, paying no
further regard to the larger number of his own countrymen still left strug-
gling with the waves, to place them where he believed they would be
beyond the reach of recovery by the victor.

But I must pray permission to go further, and to question your lord-
ship's proposition that a third party, professing to be neutral, performs
a common duty of humanity in interposing in a struggle between com-
batants to save those only on one side. On the contrary, so far as he
may be successful, he appears to make himself a party to a continuance
of strife and bloodshed. The men engaged in the Alabama were all act-
ing in deadly hostility to the people of the United States. They were either
prisoners or desperately pursued by the Kearsarge. If they had perished,
the latter would have had the advantage of a lawful destruction of so
many enemies. If they had been rescued by the Kearsarge, with or
without the aid of the Deerhound, then the surrender of those persons,
already made, would have been perfected, and they would have been
prisoners. In neither case would they have remained hostile combatants.
The Deerhound, by conniving at the escape of these men, and furnishing
the necessary means to it by canying them within a foreign jurisdiction,
deprived the United States to a corresponding extent of the fruits of a
long and costly pursuit and successful battle.

It is not pretended that it is any part of the duty of a neutral to assist
in making captures for a belligerent. It is, nevertheless, as confidently
afflrmed that, instead of neutrality, it is direct hostility for a neutral to
Interpose in a battle so far as to rescue men of one side, who have been
driven to surrender, and then convey them away surreptitiously from
under the guns of the victor, thereafter to resume their hostility just as
if they never had been overcome.

The irritation naturally created by such a proceeding in any case is
much more aggravated when it comes to be considered that this vessel
was built, armed, manned, and equipped in the ports of a neutral coun-
try, to which the Deerhound itself belongs ; that her departure and sub-
sequent depredations were the consequence of a failure to perform a recog-
nized duty of prevention, and that the harboring of these persons after
a rescue so made is oidy likely to terruinate in efforts to renew these
offensive acts from the same country in which the wrong was first com-

In view of all these circumstances, I regret to be compelled to com-
municate to your lordship the expression of the President's surprise that
her Majesty's government does not find in the proceedings of the owner
of the Deerhound cause of severe censiure or regret. And this is the
more sensibly felt, that that person has not hesitated to avow in his own
letter that he was actuated by a desire to withdraw these enemies of the
United States from the power of their conquering vessel.

I am, however, directed to say that my government does not for a
moment believe that any of the proceedings referred to, whether relating to
the chief wrong-doer commanding the hostUe vessel, to the yacht Deer-


hound, or to those British subjects who have not scrupled either publicly to
declare their sympathy with or privately to aid and abet the violators
of her Majesty's neutrality, are viewed with any other sentiments than
those of regret and disapproval by the members of her Majesty's govern-

Nevertheless, it appears to be a solemn obligation of ray government,
in view of all the grave consequences of such a proceeding, to sum up the
conclusions to which, from a full consideration of the facts, it has now

1. The incidents as heretofore explained confirm the soundness of the
opinion previously insisted upon, that the Alabama is justly to be
regarded as to have attained at no point of time any other national
character than that which may have attached to it from its construction,
outfit, equipment, armament, and manning by British subjects out of
British ports.

2. That the persons who escaped from this vessel thus fitted out by
British subjects engaged in making unlawful war against the United
States, after voluntary surrender as prisoners of war, by reason of the
unlawful intervention qf the commander of the British yacht Deerhound,
and the conveyance of them within the jurisdiction of Great Britain,
ought to be delivered up to the United States.

3. That the continuance of these persons to receive from any British
authorities or subjects pecuniary assistance or supplies, or the regular
payment of wages, for the purpose of more effectually carrying on hostile
operations from this kingdom as a base, is a grievance against which it
is my duty to remonstrate, and for which to ask a remedy in their con-
viction and punishment.

4. The occasion has been thought to warrant a direction to me to ask
with earnestness of her Majesty's government that it should adopt such
measures as may be effective to prevent the preparation, equipment, and
outfit of any further naval expedition from British shores to make war
against the United States.

In making these representations I am instructed to assure your lord-
ship that the President is far from seeking causes of offense on the part
of Great Britain. But he is charged with the duty of maintaining the
belligerent rights of the United States on the high seas as they are
recognized by the law of nations against all lawless combinations and
resistance. He therefore trusts that her Majesty's government will con-
sider the subject in a just and candid spirit, and himself as asking from
it in this case only what, if the situation of the parties were reversed,
would have been conceded to any similar request based On equally cogent

I pray your lordship to accept the assurances of the highest considera-
tion with which I have the honof to be, my lord, your lordship's most
obedient servant,


Bight Hon. Earl Eussell, <&c., <&c., &c.

Mr. Sewao'd to Mr. Adams.

~S . 1093.] Department of State,

Washington, September 19, 1864.
Sir : I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of the 2d of
вЦ† September, transmitting a copy of a note of the 20th of July last,


addressed to you by our consul at Cape Town, communicating the facts
in regard to the non-restoration of the Tuscaloosa to her rightful owners.
It seems necessary to inform her Britannic Majesty's government that
this government is unable to acquiesce in the disposition of the subject
which that government has made.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Charles Francis Adams, Esq., <fec., <&c., i&c.

Mr. F. W. Seward to Mr. Adams.

No. 1103.] DBPARTiiEiirT OP State,

Washington, September 24, 1864.
Sir : I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch of the 8th of
September, Ifo. 779. It is accompanied by a copy of the note which,
under my instructions, you have addressed to Earl Eussell on the
subject of the interference of the Deerhound in the naval battle between
the Kearsarge and the Alabama. The representation is approved, and
the President desires me to express to you his appreciation of the care
and candor you have exercised in preparing that important paper.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,

F. W. SEWAED, Acting Secretary.

Charles Francis Adams, Esq., <&c., &c., &c.

Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward,

No. 789.]' Legation op the United States,

London, September 29, 1864.
Sir : I now have the honor to transmit copies of three notes which
have passed between Lord Eassell and myself subsequently to that sent
to you with my dispatch No. 779, of the 8th September, embodjdng the
substance of your instructions relating to the case of the yacht Deerhound.
The reply of his lordship seems to me to rank among the least favor-
able specimens of his style. It would have been easy for me to expose
the fallacies of his conclusions, and still more the feeble, irrelevant, and
discourteous excuse which marks the close. But under the circumstances
I have thought it more prudent not to precipitate matters here by assum-
ing responsibility in a controversy which seems to my eye to be one
involving difQculties as serious as any that have been elicited by the war,
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

Hon, William H, Seward,

Secretary of State.

Earl Bussell to Mr. Adams.

Foreign Oppice, September 12, 1864.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the
6th instant, respecting the case of the Alabama and the proceedings, on
the occasion of the sinking of that vessel, of the owner of the Deerhound;


and I have to inform you that your communication will receive a reply
as soon as it can be prepared.

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most
obedient, humble servant,


Ohaelbs Francis Adams, Esq., t&c, &c., &c.

Earl Russell to Mr, Adams.

Foreign Obpice, Sejitemler 26, 1864.

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 6th of this
month upon the subject of the officers and men belonging to the Alabama
who were saved by the owner of the Deerhoand yacht from drowning,
and were afterwards landed at Southampton. It is not my intention, in
replying to that letter, to repeat arguments already exhausted, or to refer
to observations already made. It seems to be sufficient that I should
state to you the conclusions at which her Majestj^'s government have
arrived, and which diiJer from those which your government have come
to from the same facts.

In the first place, it is undoubtedly true that the Alabama was partly
fitted out in a British port. But as soon as evidence was obtained that
acts had been committed with regard to that vessel in violation of a
British statute, orders were sent to seize her; she, however, escaped from
British waters in a state of half eqviipment, under a fraudulent pretence
of making a trial trip. Her equipment was afterwards completed in a
foreign port, neither British nor American, and a commission from the
so-styled confederate government was there delivered to Captain Semmes,
her commander, himself an American citizen.

Secondly, I have to state that it appears to her Majesty's government
that the commander of the private British yacht, the Deerhound, in
saving- from drowning some of the officers and crew of the Alabama,
after that vessel had sunk, performed a praiseworthy act of humanity,
to which, moreover, he had been exhorted by the officer commanding
the Kearsarge, to which vessel the Deerhound had, in the first instance,
gone, in order to offer to the Kearsarge any assistance which, after her
action with the Alabama, sh^, might stand in need of; and it appears
fttrther to her Majesty's government that, under aU the circumstances
of the case, Mr. Lancaster was not under any obligation to deliver to the
captain of the Kearsarge the officers and men whom he had rescued from
the waves.

But however that may be, with regard to the demand made 'by you
by instructions from your government, that those officers and men should
now be delivered up to the government of the United States, as being
escaped prisoners of war, her Majesty's government would beg to observe
that there is no obligation by international law which can bind the
government of a neutral state to deliver up to a belligerent prisoners of
war who may have escaped ft^om the power of such belligerent and may
have taken refage within the territory of such neutral. Therefore, even
if her Majesty's government had any power by law to comply with the
above-mentioned demand, her Majesty's government could not do so
without being guilty of a violation of the duties of hospitality.

In point of fact, however, her Majesty's government have no lawful
power to arrest and deliver up the persons in question. They have
been guilty of no offense against the laws of England, and they have


committed uo act wliicli coiild bring them witliin tlie provisions of tlie
treaty between Great Britain and the United States for the mutual
surrender of offenders, and her Majesty's government are, therefore,
entirely without any legal means by which, even if they wished to do so,
they could comply with your above-mentioned demand.

Thirdly, with regard to the statement made to the United States
government, that British authorities afford pecuniary assistance or
supplies, or furnish regular payment of wages to persons forming the
crew of the Alabama, for the purpose of enabling them more effectually
to carry on hostile operations again'st the United States, I have to say
that her Majesty's government have no knowledge whatever of any such
circumstances, and do not believe that there is any foundation for such
statements. Private individuals may very possibly have contributed
to relieve the necessities of the persons in question, but with the pecuni-
ary contributions of private individuals her Majesty's government have
no power to interfere.

I beg further to assure you that her Majesty's government have
adopted, and will continue to adopt, to the utmost of their lawful power,
such measures as may be effective to prevent the preparation, equipment,
and outfit of any naval expedition from British shores to make war
against the United States.

The detention and seizure of the Birkenhead iron-clads, and the
discussions in Parliament on that subject, suffice to show that it complete
prevention in this respect has not been attained, all that the government
of this free country can do to stop such expeditions has been fully

Lastly, in expressing the regret of her Majesty's government that they
should find themselves unable to comply with any application which
the government of the United States may have' thought themselves
entitled to make, I cannot refrain from observing that her Majesty's
government have been far more successful in preventing breaches of
neutrality with regard to the fitting out of cruisers to take part in the
civil war in jS^orth America, than the government of the United States
were in preventing the fitting out of ships of war to aid the South
American republics in their revolt against Spain, which power then
stood in the position of a central authority resisting insurrection.

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most
obedient, hitmble servant,


Chaeles Francis Adams, Esq., c6c., (fee, (fee.

Mr. Adams to Earl Bussell.

Legation op the United States,

London^ Septemier 27, 1864.

My Lord: I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your
note of the 26th instant, communicating to me the conclusions at which
her Majesty's government have arrived on the representations which
I submitted on the 6th instant, under special instructions, respecting
the proceedings of the owner of the yacht Deerhouud, and the collateral
questions involved therein.

Eegretting to perceive so wide a divergency in the views taken by
the two governments of a subject involving grave principles of law not
less than important rules of international comity, I shall not venture


upon the consideration of the contents of youx lordship's note in advance
of their passing under the examination of my government. Meanwhile,
I shall avail myself of the earliest opportvinity to transmit the paper to
the United States, and await the return of further instructions.

I pray your lordship to accept the assurances of the highest consid-
eration with which I have the honor to be, my lord, your most obedient


The Eight Hon. Eael Eussell, <fcc., &C., &c.

Mr. Seward, to Mr. Adams,

No. 1117.] Department of State,

Washington^ October 10, 1864.

SiE: I transmit herewith, for your information and guidance, a copy
of a dispatch of the 14th of September from our consul at Liverpool,
which is accompanied by a copy of an affidavit of Brent Johnston, a
seaman, who was on board of the Alabama from the time of her depart-
ure from Liverpool until she was destroyed by the Kearsarge. I hope
that you have given this subject all needful attention.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,


Ohahles Pkancis Adams, (fee, tfcc, &c.

Mr. Dudley to Mr. Seward.

'So. 351.] United States Consulate,

Liverpool, S^tember 14, 1864.
Sib : I now have the honor to inclose yoa additional information, show-
ing the connection between the yacht Deerhound and the Alabama at
the time of the fight with the Kearsarge, off Cherbourg. It is an affidavit
of Brent Johnston, a very intelligent seaman, who was on the Alabama
from the time she sailed from Liverpool until she sunk, and who was
one of those saved on the Deerhound. He swears positively that Mr.
Lancaster, the owner, was on board the Alabama on the Friday before
the fight, and that Captain Sinclair was there on Sunday morning. He
also states that sixty-five of the chronometers were taken to the yacht

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of StateCorrespondence concerning claims against Great Britain : transmitted to the Senate of the United States in answer to the resolutions of December 4 and 10, 1867, and of May 27, 1868 → online text (page 44 of 108)