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[59] the facts here submitted, it seems clear that, if Mr. Davis sent an agent to purchase war-vessels in Europe, it must have been at a later period, and when the opportunity to get such vessels, from England and elsewhere, had already been allowed to slip by. For he certainly cannot deny that, in May, 1861, a fleet of ten East India steamers was offered the Confederate government, in Montgomery, through Mr. W. L. Trenholm, speaking in the name and by the authority of the house of John Frazer & Co. Admitting that, as he must, how is it possible that he could have rejected the Trenholm offer—as he unquestionably did—if at that time he had a naval officer in Europe, sent thither to effect the identical purchase he then declined? Was it that our government could not have accepted any such proposal, except through the medium of the agent already alluded to? Why not, then, have referred the house of John Frazer & Co. to him, or him to that house?

Mr. Prioleau, one of the firm of John Frazer & Co., of Liverpool, through whose hands had passed the negotiations relative to the purchase of these vessels, wrote to General Beauregard the following letter on the subject. It confirms the extracts from Mr. Trenholm's letter, as given above; and adds so much interest to the point under consideration, that we feel justified in submitting it without curtailment.

Bruges, September 25th, 1880.
My dear General,—The facts with reference to the proposed fleet of armed vessels for the service of the Confederacy were briefly as follows:

I had, from the very beginning of the struggle, been more impressed with the vital importance of the seaports than with anything else. I regarded them as the lungs of the country, which, once really closed, asphyxia must follow. I therefore took an early occasion to go to London to see what could be had in the shape of vessels fit to take and keep the sea, for a lengthened period, and strong enough to carry an armament which would render them efficient war-vessels, or, at all events, equal to cope with those of the enemy engaged in the blockade of the coast.

I was fortunate in finding exactly what was wanted. A fleet of first-class East-Indiamen was lying there idle, under circumstances of a financial nature which made them available to a buyer at less than half their cost. They had been built with a view of being armed if required, and also to be used as transports for troops, as well as to carry valuable cargoes and treasure in time of peace. Four of them were vessels of great size and power, and of the very first class, and there were six others which, although smaller, were scarcely inferior for the required purpose. Having, with the assistance of an expert, thoroughly inspected them all, I at once entered into negotiations for their purchase, and having secured them for the reply of the Confederate authorities,


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