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[220] knowing what act of treachery might be attempted by her commander on the first night after his arrival, the Florida was kept in a watchful condition for battle.

This belligerent demonstration in the peaceful harbor of a neutral power alarmed both the governor and the admiral, who demanded assurances that the sovereignty of Brazil and its neutrality should be strictly observed by both parties. The pledge was given. In the evening, with a chivalric belief in the honor of the United States commander, Captain Morris unfortunately permitted a majority of his officers to accompany him to the opera, and also allowed two-thirds of the crew to visit the shore on leave. About one o'clock in the morning the Wachusett was surreptitiously got under way, and her commander, with utter abnegation of his word of honor, ran into the Florida, discharging his battery and boarding her. The few officers on board and small number of men were unable to resist this unexpected attack, and the Florida fell an easy prey to this covert and dishonorable assault. She was towed to sea amid the execrations of the Brazilian forces, army and navy, who, completely taken by surprise, fired a few ineffectual shots at the infringer upon the neutrality of the hospitable port of Bahia. The Confederate was taken to Hampton Roads.

Brazil instantly demanded her restoration intact to her late anchorage in Bahia. Lincoln was confronted by a protest from the different representatives of the courts of Europe, denouncing this extraordinary breach of national neutrality, which placed the government of the United States in a most unenviable position. Seward, with his usual diplomatic insincerity and Machiavellianism, characteristically prevaricated, while he plotted with a distinguished admiral as to the most adroit method of disposing of the ‘elephant.’ The result of these plottings was that an engineer was placed in charge of the stolen steamer, with positive orders to ‘open her sea-cock at midnight, and not to leave the engine-room until the water was up to his chin, as at sunrise the Florida must he at the bottom.’

The following note was sent to the Brazilian charge d'affaires by Seward:

While awaiting the representations of the Brazilian Government, on the 28th of November she [the Florida] sank, owing to a leak, which could not be seasonably stopped. The leak was at first represented to have been caused, or at least increased, by collision with a war-transport. Orders were immediately given to ascertain the manner and circumstances of the occurrence. It seemed to affect the army and navy. A naval court of inqury and also a military court of inquiry were charged with the investigation. The naval court has submitted its report, and a copy thereof is herewith communicated. The military court is yet engaged. So

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