officer's presence was requested at the office of the Captain-General
; the information required by the Government
stated, with the pleasing assurance that he
was satisfied as to the status of the Stonewall
; but inasmuch as the American Minister
had officially made grave charges against the vessel, it became the duty of the Government
to place themselves in a position to rebut such charges, if erroneously made; or, if true, to withhold their national hospitality.
The required evidence was at hand.
The commanding officer presented his commission, showing the authority under which he acted, and the evidence that he
was no pirate, nor was the vessel under his command a lawless rover of the sea. He went farther, in order to satisfy the inquiry of the Government
— he exhibited a document, bearing the signature of authority--“his instructions” --stating what the Captain-General
, an Admiral in the Spanish
navy, very readily appreciated, “that his instructions
were for his
, and that he would be recreant to his trust were he to submit them to the perusal of another.”
considered the evidence sufficient to satisfy the requirements of his Government, and transmitted the same to Madrid
Orders came to permit the continuance of the repairs that had been suspended.
It is eminently proper here to state the ground on which rested the nationality, not only of the Stonewall
, but of every other Confederate man-of-war, because it was not an uncommon assertion in high places, and eagerly embraced in some quarters, that inasmuch as these vessels under the Confederate
flag had been neither built, nor fitted out, nor commissioned in some Confederate port, they were not, in view of international requirements, men-of-war; and consequently not entitled to the hospitality usually accorded to belligerents in neutral ports.
It is sufficient to set at rest all quibbling as to the legal status of the Stonewall
, to quote a few extracts from the very many authorities on this point, as laid down in the “British counter case” before the “Geneva Convention,” and sustained by learned writers on international law:
Where either belligerent is a community or body of persons not recognized by the neutral power as constituting a sovereign state, commissions issued by such belligerent are recognized as acts emanating, not indeed from a sovereign government, but from a person or persons exercising de facto in relation to the war, the powers of a sovereign government.
Public ships of war, in the service of a belligerent, entering the