, of the Florida
, at Brest
, writes a letter to La Patrie,
,) explaining the position of his ship according to international law. He says:
, Sept. 12, 1863.
Your number of the 10th inst. contains two errors, which I beg permission to rectify.
It states: "Two incidents have just taken place in France
which interest the American
The first is the seizure at Brest
, by a French ship-owner, of the Confederate privateer Florida
, who claims from her an indemnity of 100,000 francs for the loss of a vessel belonging to him, and which was sunk by the said privateer." On this first point I have the honor to assure you that, in spite of the thrusts of certain persons who pretend to have claims against the corvette Florida
, she has not been yet seized.
I protest in the most formal and energetic manner against the second allegation, the Florida
has never had any reason for sinking a French vessel; that assertion is false, and I refer you on that point to the letter published by M. Peequet du Beller
, in the Ocean,
, which contains a faithful relation of the incidents of the encounter which took place between the Florida
and the French vessel, the Bremontier
As to the qualification of privateer which you give to the corvette I have the honor to command, it arises no doubt from the fact of your having been ill-informed as to the armament of the Florida
A privateer, according to the definition given by Noel
and Chapsal, is "a vessel armed by private individuals with the authorization of the Government
." That definition has been, I believe, adopted by all writers who have treated on international law, but it accords but little with the real situation of the Florida
That corvette has, in fact, been built and armed by the Government
of the Confederate States of America
, and her officers hold their commissions from that Government.
She carries the national flag and the pennant carried by vessels of war, and receives her instructions directly from the Minister
of Marine of the Confederate States
The European Powers having recognized the possession by the Government
of the rights of belligerents, among which are those of forming armies and fitting out vessels of war, I am at a loss to understand that the fact of my Government not being yet officially acknowledged, can take from it the rights inherent in every de facto
Government, and place it in the category of a private individual fitting out a privateer, and thus change the nature and true character of its national navy.
Such an interpretation of national law appears to me to be untenable.
Relying on your impartiality.
I beg you to insert this letter in the earliest number of your estimable journal.
Accept, sir, the assurance of my perfect consideration.