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[646]

In fact, the shipyards of Birkenhead were not the only ones at work for the Confederates. As early as the month of February, Mr. Adams had notified Lord Russell, minister of foreign affairs, that a ship called the Oreto, in process of construction at Liverpool, under the name of a ship-owner of Palermo, was, in fact, a war-vessel destined for the use of the Confederates. No notice was taken of this communication; and in the early part of April the Oreto had quietly left the Mersey with a large cargo intended for the Southern States. She first touched at Nassau, where she found Captain Maffit, who was to command her, a portion of her crew, together with cannon and ammunition forwarded from England for the purpose of fitting her out as a man-of-war. But as she was about to sail she was seized by the English authorities. The British government, having at last listened to the just representations of Mr. Adams, had this vessel libelled before the courts of Nassau for violation of the foreign enlistment act. The tribunal before which the examination took place was not satisfied with the proofs submitted in the case, and in the month of August ordered the vessel to be released. Scarcely had this decree been rendered amid the plaudits of the population of Nassau, who had dreaded to see the interruption of a traffic so lucrative to them, when the Oreto got under way, and proceeded to the desert island of Green Key, where she was to meet the vessel that had her armament on board. This was the most striking demonstration of injustice, experienced by the American government. Although the complement of his crew was not made up, Maffit succeeded, by dint of activity, in shipping all his guns. But the yellow fever almost immediately broke out on board; and the terrible scourge having spared but four or five men, the Oreto was obliged to put into Cuba, where she met with sympathetic protection from the Spanish authorities. Maffit was thus able to prepare for a new campaign, and on the 30th of August he sailed for the port of Mobile. On the 4th of September he suddenly made his appearance in the midst of the blockading squadron, flying the English military flag and the war pennant. Commodore Preble, who was in command of the squadron at the time, had orders to avoid coming in collision with vessels belonging to foreign powers. Deceived by the sight of the English flag, he

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