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

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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 46 of 108)
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Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.

No. 879.] Legation of the United States,

London, Fehrua/ry 16, 1865.

Sir : I have the honor to transmit copies of correspondence held with
Lord EusseU on the subject of outfits of vessels for account of the rebels.

*** # * * # *

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

Hon. William H. Seward,

Secretary of State, (fee, &e., <&c.


Mr. Adams to Earl Russell.

Legation op the TJwited States,

London^ Febnmry 7, 1865.

My Lord: # # * # # # *

I likewise have the honor to transmit a copy of an advertisement taken
from the Liverpool Daily Post, of the first instant, going to show that
the crew of the vessel formerly known as the Alabama, being all of them
British subjects, enlisted in violation of law, on a voyage of hostility to
the United States, are openly paid their wages by agents of the insurgents
in a British port, just as if they had been embarked in a common under-
taking, fully recognized by all the British authorities.

It is not without great pain that I am constraiaed to admit the im-
pression that her Majesty's governm'ent seem to be almost without the
power to restrain the commission of this systematic abuse of the law of
neutrality within her territories. I regret it the more that it seems to
be gradually fixing in the minds of my countrymen a conviction that
there is little reciprocal force in treaty, obligations, and hence that it is
expedient for them to be released, as far as possible, from those into
which their government has heretofore cheerfully entered with Great
Britain. I trust I need not say to your lordship that this state of things
is regarded by me as most unfavorable to the best interests of both
nations, which would, in my view, dictate I'ather a closer approximation
than any alienation.

Not having had any reason to doubt the favorable disposition of her
Majesty's government, I still cherish the hope that some additional
means may be devised to correct the evils complained of, and to restore
that confidence in reciprocity of friendly action which is the only stable
foundation of all international relations of amity throughout the world.

I pray your lordship to accept the assurances of the highest consider-
ation with which I have the honor to be, my lord, your lordship's most
obedient servant,


Eight Hon. Eael Etjssell, cfcc, (fee, <&c.

Advertisement paying crew of the N'o. 290.

late confederate screw steamer ALABAMA..

On and after the 1st of February next, £10 will be paid to each of the
crew of the late confederate screw steamer Alabama, (who were on board
at the time of her loss,) as compensation for their bags lost in that
ship. The money will be paid on application to Eichard Taylor, at the
office of M. P. Eobertson, esq., Bumford Court, Liverpool, between the
hours of 12 meridian and 2 p. m.

Men must produce their discharges, and administrators of deceased
men must bring their certificates of administration.

Liverpool, January 27, 1865.


Mr. Adams to Mr. Hunter.


No. 964.] Legation op the United States,

London, May 25, 1865.
Sib: I liave the honor to transmit a copy of my reply, dated the 20th,
to Lord Eiussell's note of the 4th instant, which I have already in my
!No. 952 mentioned as being in preparation. * * #

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

Hon. W. Hunter,

Acting Secretary of State.

[The foregoing dispatch, together with its inclosure, is printed in full
under the sub-division " Demand for Eevocation of Eebel Belligerency."
Vol. I, p. 303. Dispatch No. 952, above referred to, is printed, under
the same subdivision, Vol. I, p. 294.]

Mr. Adams to Earl Russell.


Legation op the United States,

London, May 20, 1865.

My Lord ;***#***

The next example was that of gunboat No. 290, afterwards well known
as the cruiser the Alabama. I refer to this case once more only because
it has been particularly referred to by your lordship. I do so for the pur-
pose of expressing my dissent &om the statement made in your note in
regard to certain important particulars.

Tour lordship is pleased to state that the papers affording evidence of
a design to equip this ship for the confederate service were furnished to
you on the 22d and on the 24tli of July. This is certainly true. But your
lordship will be kind enough to remember that my first note giving infor-
mation as to the character of that vessel was dated on the 23d of June,
that is, one month preceding. On the 4th of July, the commissioners of
her Majesty's customs, to whom that representation was referred, made
a report admitting the fact that the vessel was certainly built for a ship
of war, but affirming that the evidence presented of her being intended
for the so-called confederate government was not sufficient to justify a
detention. The concluding sentence in their letter was in these words ;
I pray permission to ask your lordship's ]particular attention to them :

"We beg to add that the officers at Liverpool will keep a strict watch
upon the vessel, and that any further information that may be obtained
concerning her will be forthwith reported."

Here was a distinct pledge on the part of two of her Majesty's officers
that "they would keep a strict watch on this vessel;" which pledge was
sent to me with your lordship's note of the 4th of July, requesting me to
obtain such further evidence as might tend to show the destination of
the vessel. Considering this as a distinct engagement, sanctioned by
her Majesty's government, to keep faithful watch over that vessel so long
• as it might be necessary to obtain more evidence as to her character, the
precise date of the receipt of that evidence becomes a question of second-


ary importance. The true question appears to be, how that pledge was
actually redeemed. This will appear clear enough in the sequel. On
the 9th of July the consul made a statement to the collector of facts as
they had become known to him.

He entered into a number of details in respect to the persons engaged
in connection with this vessel, naming individuals with a particularity
certainly deserving of some investigation by her Majesty's officers at
Liverpool, if they really meant to satisfy themselves that she ought to be
detained. But it does not appear that they considered it their duty to
initiate, or even to carry on any inquiry.

The board of customs contented themselves with a formal reply on the
15th instant, denying that there was sufficient prima facie evidence to
justify a seizure of the vessel.

On the other hand, my lord, I must take the liberty to remark, after
a calm re-examination of the substance of that letter, that, if there was
not prima facie evidence enough in it to justify the seizure, there was
matter enough in it to make it the bounden duty of her Majesty's officers
to lose no time, and omit no effort, to obtain the evidence on their own
account, to verify or to disprove the allegations.

They do not so appear to have read their duty; the consequence was',
that more time was necessary for me to procure the information, which,
as officers of the Crown, they admit in their own letter they ought to
have procured themselves. I did obtain evidence, though the process
naturally consumed time. That evidence was submitted on the 21st of
July by the consul at Liverpool to the collector of that port, and by him
referred to the board of customs. The deliberate answer of that body
was made on the 23d of July, and it was to the effect that it was mt
sufficient to justify any steps being taken against the vessel under the

Thus far it appears, that, although her Majesty's officers had pledged
the government to "keep faithful watch over the vessel and report any
further information they might obtain," no one of them seems to have
been disposed to pay the smallest attention to any representations
or any evidence offered by myself, or any agent of the United States,
even so far as to stimulate his own action in any way whatever. A change
now took place, to the nature of which I beg most particulatly to call your
lordship's attention.

On the next day after the decision of the customs board 1 had thei
honor of sending to your lordship copies of six of the very same
depositions which had already been sent to them. Whether these
would, by themselves, have met with a better fate, I cannot venture to'
pronounce, but on the 24th I transmitted two additional ones, to which
was appended a professional opinion by a British subject, distinguished
as a Queen's counsel, which had been given to me after a careftd
examination of all these papers. It was to the following effect :

1. " That if the collector of Liverpool did not detain the vessel, he would
incur a heavy responsibility, of which the board of customs must take
their share.

2. "That if^the vessel was allowed to escape, it deserved consideration
whether the federal government would not have serious groimds of

These were ominous words; they laid the responsibility distinctly upon
the very parties who had given the original pledge of vigilance and
attention; and yet, during the very interval in which her Majesty's
government was deliberating upon their purport, the vessel was permitted
to escape. Neither did this event occur without most explicit warning


of the danger having been given by a person acting on behalf of the
United States. As early as the 23d of July, six days before that
escape, Mr. Squarey, the solicitor employed in the case, addressed a
note to the secretary of the customs board, warning them most dis-
tinctly of the fact that the vessel was ready for sea, had fifty men on
board, and could sail any time. On the 26th he wrote another letter,
repeating the warning once more; yet, in spite of the promise to keep
a strict watch, and in spite of these repeated warnings, the vessel was
permitted to steam out of Liverpool just as if no cause of suspicion
of her destination had ever been excited. And as if to crown the
extraordinary character of the transaction, after receiving from Mr.
Squarey notice, on the 29th, that the vessel was actually gone, it
was not until the 31st that the telegrams were issued to Liverpool
ordering her detention. I must respectfully represent to your lordship,
that this proceeding, so far from appearing to do any justice to the
demand of the United States, looks almost as if it were intended for a
positive insult. It is true that on the same day, telegrams ordering her
detention were sent to Cork likewise, on the 1st of August, to Beaumaris
and Holyhead, and on the 2d of August a letter was sent to the collector
at Cork to the same effect. For all practical purposes, they might have
been sent just as well at this moment that 1 am addressing these lines
to your lordship. It further appears that instructions were sent to the
governor of the Bahamas, in case the vessel should visit Nassau. The
vessel did not visit that place, but the next time she visited a port
within her Majasty's dominions was after she had entered upon her
career of depredation; and then, instead of being detained, she was
politely received and acknowledged as the vessel of a bona fide belligerent.
It now appears, that from the day when, by the flagrant negligence of
her Majesty's board of customs, this vessel, admitted to be intended for
war purposes, was suffered to depart from the port of Liverpool, down
to the hour of her destruction by the United States steamer Kearsarge
off the coast of France, she came again and again into ports within her
Majesty's jurisdiction, and instead of being treated as her Majesty's
government directed if she should go to Nassau , she was everywhere

hailed with joy and treated with hospitality as a legitimate cruiser.

* «'* « * * * *•*

I pray your lordship to accept the assurances of the highest consider-
ation with which I have the honor to be, my lord, your lordship's most
obedient servant,


Eight Hon. Eakl Eussell, &c., d;o., &o.

[For further reclamations for the depredati6ns of the Alabama see
division "Negotiations Concerning Claims^]



Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.


No. 1070.] Department op State,

Washington, August 15, 1864.
Sir :******
A new piratical vessel named the Tallahassee has appeared oif the

coast of New Tork, and committed a series of vexatious depredations.

She is said to be an English-built vessel, and is supposed to have been

armed at Bermuda. I wait for definite iaformation on these points, to.

determine whether there is occasion for representations to her Majesty's

government concerning the Tallahassee.

mm * * * * *

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


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

Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.


No. 1074.] Department op State,

Washington, August 20, 1864.
gjjj . # ♦ * # # # '

There is reason to believe that British subjects, hostile to the United
States, have only changed their form of proceeding in sending out
armed vessels to make war against the United States. The Tallahas-
see is said to have been built and to have come out in the character of
a merchant vessel, but to have been furnished with an armament in Liv-
erpool. She appears on our coasts as a pirate, and she is received at Hali-
fax. Her master is reported as saying that she is only one of several
very fast steamers, of the same character, which have been buUt at Liv-
erpool, with armaments prepared in the same way. Bermuda and
Halifax are to be bases of operations. I refrain from comment until
there shall have been time for Earl Russell to have replied to your note
concerning the Georgia, and in the expectation of more definite informa-
tion in regard to the Tallahassee.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


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

Mr. Adams to Earl Russell.

Legation op the United States,

London, April 12, 1865.

My Lord : I have the honor to transmit, for the information of your
lordship, a copy of a letter received by me from Mr. Dudley, the consul


at Liverpool, respecting the arrival at tliat port of the steam vessel
kno^vu as the Tallahassee, but more lately as the Chameleon.

I pray your lordship to accept the assurances of the highest considera-
tion, &c.


Eight Hon. Earl Eussell, (&c., t&c, t&c.

Mr. Dudley to Mr. Adams.

United States Constjlate,

Liverpool, April 10, 1865.
Sib, : The confederate pirate steamer Tallahassee arrived in the river
Mersey yesterday, direct from Ijrassau. She anchored and lay there
until this morning, since which he has gone into the Birkenhead docks,
the same that held the pirate Sumter, now called the Gibraltar. I am
told that the officers are all on board, but not in uniform, and that the
three guns that she had mounted on her decks while cruising, two swivel
and one large pivot, are stowed below in the hold, but the traverses on
the deck for working them, and the rings, bolts, &c., are still remaining.
She, of course, is under the confederate flag.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,

Hon. Chaeles Francis Adams,

United States Minister.

Mr. Adams to Mr. Hunter.

No. 966.] Legation op the United States,

London, May.25, 1865,
Sir :" I have the hoiior to transmit a copy of a note from Lord Eus-
sell to me of the 27th of April, relative to the steamer formerly known
as the Tallahassee, in Wilmington, and later as the Chameleon, at Ber-
muda and at Liverpool.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

Hon. William Hunter, '

Acting Secretary of State.

Earl Russell to Mr. Adams.

Foreign Office, April 27, 1865.
Sir : With reference to the case of the Chameleon, otherwise Talla-
hassee, to which you drew my attention in your letter of the 12th in-
stant, I have the honor to state to you that it appears, from a report
which has been made by a competent naval officer to her Majesty's gov-
ernment, that that vessel has not, since the 27th of last December, as-
sumed the character of a confederate cruiser. On that date the Chame-
leon, having previously landed her armament, left the port of Wilming-
ton with a cargo of cotton for Bermuda. At Bermuda she took on
board a cargo for Wilmington, but finding that port, as well as Charles-
ton, in the possession of the United States forces, she returned to Ber-


nmda, wlieuce slie arrived direct at the port of Liverpool, having a cargo
of copper, telegraph wire, and tobacco, amounting altogether to about
one hundred tons.

The crew of the Chameleon is stated to have numbered forty persons,
aU told, eighteen of whom were stokers, and this, the report says, is not
an unusual number for a vessel employed in blockade running. The
greater part of the crew have now been discharged. i

Her Majesty's government have been advised that there is nothing to
show that the Chameleon is not now what she is represented to be,
namely, a merchant vessel carrying the flag of the so-styled Confederate
States, or that any part of her cargo is prize taken from United States
citizens, and under these circumstances her Majesty's government have
not felt themselves warranted in refusing permission to the Chameleon
to discharge and deliver her cargo at the port of Liverpool.

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


Chakles Fkancis Adams, Esq., c&c, &e., &c.


Mr. Dudley to Mr. Adams.

United States Cowsitlate,

Liverpool^ October 7, 1864.
Sir : A screw steamer called the Laurel, I understand, has been re-
cently purchased for the confederates. She is about three hundred tons
burden, nearly new built, very strong and admirably adapted for a
privateer. She is at this point, and has been entered by Henry Lafore
to load for Matamoras via Kassau. She has taken on board a number
of cases cgntaining guns and gun-carriages. There is nothing to
prevent their being mounted on her decks, as soon as she leaves the port.
I fear this will be done. Having been built as a passenger boat to run
between Liverpool and Sligo, she can accommodate all the offtcers and
crew necessary to man her. I have no evidence to implicate her except
taking on the guns in cases.

' I am, sir, your obedient servant,

Hon. Charles Francis Adams,

United States Minister.

N. B. — I have just learned that one of the officers, a lieutenant on the
pirate Georgia, is to go out in the Laurel. She has twenty-one seamen
more than required for a vessel of this class. Her movements are most
suspicious. I fear she is to be a privateer. She wiU go to sea to-mor-

Mr. Dudley to Mr. Seward.
[Extract. J

'So. 362.J United States Consulate,

Liverpool, October 8, 1864.

A screw steamer called the Laurel, built at Glasgow during last year,


has been purchased within the past few days for the confederates. On
the 5th instant they entered her at the Liverpool custom as a sailing
vessel to load for Matamoras via Nassau. She has taken on board cases
marked as machinery, but in reality containing guns and gun-carriageSj
such as are used in war vessels. Henry Lafore acts as her consignee.
She has gone into the river, and wiU, most likely, sail to-morrow. I am
much afraid that this vessel will prove to be a privateer. There is
nothing in her construction or fittings to indicate it at the present time,
but she was built as a passenger boat to run between Liverpool and
SUgo, and her passenger accommodations are ample for offlcers and crew.
She is a first-class vessel of her size, built very strongly, and, in my
judgment, well adapted for a privateer. Li a smooth sea she could easily
mount the very guns she is taking out upon the carriages, and at once
enter upon a cruise. I have no evidence against her ; my men tell me
she has shipped twenty-one seamen, six stewards, besides deck hands
and firemen. This is many more than necessary for a vessel like this.
Eumor also says some of the confederate ofl&cers from the Alabama and
Georgia, now here, are to go out in her. I yesterday gave notice to Mr.
Adams of the suspicious character of the vessel. This vessel, if possi-
ble, should be captured. Inclosure No. 3 is a description.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. WiLiiAM H. Sewabd,

Secretary of State.

Mr. Wilding to Mr. Seward.

United States Consulate,

Liverpool, October 12, 1864.

Sib : Two of the offlcers who went down in the Laurel, Pont and Cur-
tis, have returned.

The vessel was seen by a steam-tug on Sunday morning about 11
o'clock, passing Holyhead under fall steam and sail.

It appears she took a pilot out and he has returned. He refuses to
give any information as to who or what was aboard ; but his manner
indicated that our previous intelligence (as to persons, guns, &c.) was

Nothing has transpired as to her real destination, beyond the news-
paper paragraph inclosed, (No. 1,) to which I attach little credit.
Very respectfully, I am, sir, your obeditot servant,


Vice- Consul.

Hon. William: H. Seward,

Secretary of State.


Mr. Dudley to Mr. Seward.

No. 363.] United States Consulate,

Liverpool, October 12,. 1864.

SiK : Eeferring to my dispatch Ko. 362, and the steamer Laurel, I
have now to report that late on Saturday afbernoon,the 8th instant, this
steamer was cleared for Matamoras via Havana and Nassau, by Henry
Lafore, in command of Captain J. F. Eamsey, an Englishman. She
sailed on Sunday, the 9th instant. Captain Semmes, late of the Alabama,
eight other confederate officers, and about one hundred laen, forty or
fifty of whom were on the pirate Alabama, and all Englishmen, went
out in her. I have not been able to learn the names of all the officers,
but among them are Lieutenant Armstrong, Mr. Howell, Engineer
O'Brien, Armsteen, and Miner, all from the Alabama, and Lieutenant
Evans, from the pirate Georgia, and an officer by the name of Lee.
There are six stewards ; among them Emery, an Englishman, living at
Liverpool, Captain Semmes's personal steward on the Alabama, and who
was with him during the whole of her cruise. The number of men
stated as constituting her crew in the bill of entry is forty. This is a
large number, and more than necessary to navigate a vessel of her size.
The rest, it is said, go in the character of passengers.

She has six guns in cases stowed in her hold, all 68-pounders, with gun-
carriages to mount them. There are many other cases, some of which
may also contain guns, but more probably ammimition.

The officers and men embarked on the steamer on Sunday in small
boats from Birkenhead. I understand that all the officers met Captain
Semmes at Fraser, Trenholm & Co.'s office in Liverpool, on Saturday,
and then and there received their orders to be on the steamer the next
day. The officers and men did not know, or at least pretended not
to know where they were going, or the name of the vessel they are to
serve on board, but state there is one somewhere ready for them, and
that the armament and men are to be transferred to her. I do not know
whether this is so, but am of the opinion that it is true. My reason for
thinking there is another vessel is, because they do not require six guns
of the size of these on such a vessel as the Laurel ; indeed it is doubtful
if they could carry six 68-pounders mounted on a vessel like this of only
about 300 tons burden. There is not the least doubt but what this is a
piratical expedition, either on this or some other vessel.

The pilot who took the vessel out from Liverpool has returned, but
refuses to give us any information ; says he will not communicate any-
thing unless compelled.

I did not get the full particixlars until Monday evening. I immedi-
ately telegraphed them to Mr. Adams, Mr. Dayton, at Paris, Mr. San-
ford, at Brussels, and Mr. Harvey, at Lisbon. I did not know then
where our two naval vessels were, or should have sent them word at
once. Yesterday I came up to London and learned their destination.
Li the absence of Mr. Adams I took the responsibility, and immediately

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 46 of 108)