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[132]

Official correspondence of Confederate State Department.


Letter from Mr. Benjamin.

Department of State, Richmond, 20th April, 1864.
Hon. James P. Holcombe, &c., &c.:
Sir — I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your dispatch of the 1st instant, giving the result of your investigation into the facts connected with the capture of the steamer Chesapeake and the action of the British Colonial authorities in relation to the vessel and cargo and the parties concerned in the capture; also inclosing the printed pamphlet and newspapers containing reports of the judicial proceedings and decisions.

A careful examination of the whole subject has brought this Government to the same conclusion as has been reached by yourself, and we cannot hesitate to admit that the facts as now established present the case in an aspect entirely different from that in which we viewed it on the representations made by the parties engaged.

In the instructions prepared for your guidance in the conduct of this business, it was carefully pointed out that they were based on the supposition of the truth of the following facts:

First. That John C. Braine and Henry A. Parr were citizens of the Confederate States, enlisted in its military service, had been prisoners in the hands of our enemies, and that having escaped to New Brunswick, they there devised a stratagem for the capture of an enemy's vessel on the high seas, which was successfully carried out by the seizure of the Chesapeake.

Second. That acting exclusively as belligerents in the public service of their country, they touched at a point or points in the British Colonial possessions for the sole purpose of procuring the fuel indispensable to making the voyage to a Confederate port.

Third. That there had been no violation of the neutrality, nor of the sovereign jurisdiction of Great Britain, by any enlistment, real or pretended, of British subjects on British territory for service in the war waged by us against the United States.

It now appears from your own inquiries into the facts and from the judicial proceedings that we were led into error, and that the truth is as follows:


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