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States consul-general at Havana that Messrs. Mason and Slidell, Confederate commissioners to Europe, and their secretaries and families had recently reached that port from Charleston en route to England. He immediately put to sea, October 26th, with the purpose of intercepting the blockade runner which had brought them out. The commissioners were to have left Charleston by the cruiser Nashville, but their plans had been changed, and the steamer Gordon, otherwise known as the Theodora (Captain Lockwood), had been substituted. They had run the Union blockade successfully during a storm on the night of October 11th, and had arrived at Nassau on the 13th, and at Havana on the 17th. There we ascertained that their plan was to leave on the 7th of November in the English steamer Trent for St. Thomas oil their way to England, and readily calculated when and where in the Bahama Channel we might intercept them. Meanwhile, on the 2d of November, Captain Wilkes continued his cruise after the
Justin Dimmick (search for this): chapter 4.16
ded to the Florida coast, and thence, by way of the blockading fleet off Charleston, to Fort Monroe. Here report of the seizure was made, and the vessel was ordered to New York, and thence, by order of Secretary Seward, to Fort Warren, Boston harbor, where the prisoners were confined during the diplomatic correspondence which followed. The commissioners expressed their satisfaction at the considerate treatment which they received, both from Captain Wilkes during the voyage and from Colonel Justin Dimmick, the commander at Fort Warren. On the 30th of November, Earl Russell, the British minister for foreign affairs, having received the news of the seizure through a letter from Commander Williams (mentioned above), wrote to Lord Lyons, the British minister at Washington, reciting the circumstances and saying in part: Her Majesty's Government, therefore, trust that when this matter shall have been brought under the consideration of the Government of the United States, that Governm
James M. Mason (search for this): chapter 4.16
Captain Wilkes's seizure of Mason and Slidell. D. Macneill Fairfax, Rear-Admiral, U. S. N., Exenited States consul-general at Havana that Messrs. Mason and Slidell, Confederate commissioners to d me what he purposed to do, I earnestly James M. Mason, Confederate commissioner to great Britainr-list, saying that I had information that Messrs. Mason and Slidell were on board. The mention ofy, I am Mr. Slidell; do you want to see me? Mr. Mason, whom I knew very well, also came up at the at I had been sent by my commander to arrest Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell and their secretaries, and sfor my mind was possessed with the idea that Mr. Mason or Mr. Slidell, or both, would urge Captain n board. I was anxious that Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason should not leave any of their luggage behind, Captain Wilkes is playing into our hands! Mr. Mason here suggested that it would be just as welld the boats were in waiting, I notified both Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell that the time had come to se[2 more...]
Charles Scribner (search for this): chapter 4.16
months she cruised in the Atlantic. On the night of the 23d of November, she ran out of the port of St. Pierre, Island of Martinique, eluding the Iroquois (Captain Palmer), which had been sent to search for her. At Gibraltar, having been effectually blockaded by the Tuscarora, she was sold, afterward becoming a blockade runner. Among the vessels sent in search of her were the Niagara, Powhatan, Keystone State, Richmond, and San Jacinto. In his volume, The blockade and the Cruisers (Charles Scribner's Sons), Professor J. R. Soley sums up her career thus: During her cruise she had made 17 prizes, of which 2 were ransomed, 7 were released in Cuban ports by order of the Captain-General, and 2 were recaptured. Apart from the delays caused by interrupted voyages, the total injury inflicted by the Sumter upon American commerce consisted in the burning of six vessels with their cargoes. Editors. Captain Wilkes immediately determined to search for the enemy. At Cienfuegos, on the
James A. Greer (search for this): chapter 4.16
e be anything which the captain of the steamer can spare to increase the comforts in the way of necessaries or stores, of which a war vessel is deficient, you will please to procure them; the amount will be paid for by the paymaster. Lieutenant James A. Greer will take charge of the third cutter which accompanies you, and assist you in these duties. I trust that all those under your command in executing this important and delicate duty will conduct themselves with all the delicacy and kindnsted them into the comfortable cutter sent especially for them. The two secretaries followed them into the boat without making opposition. At this stage of the proceedings another outcry was raised by the passengers — noise enough to cause Lieutenant Greer, who was waiting for these gentlemen to accompany them on board, to send a corporal's guard inside of the main-deck cabin. This produced considerable consternation among the ladies near by, but it was soon allayed by Captain Moir, and the m
replied, inasmuch as you have not taken her, you will let her go or proceed on her voyage. To make clear one of these reasons, I should before have mentioned that Captain Wilkes, while at Havana, had learned more definitely of the character of Du Pont's fleet, from which he inferred its destination, for of the Southern ports the larger vessels could enter only Port Royal. He directed me to refit our battery and get the San Jacinto ready in all respects for battle, adding that he would join DDu Pont in time to cooperate with him. (As it was, Port Royal fell the day before we boarded the Trent, as we learned on our arrival off Charleston.) The reasons I assigned to Captain Wilkes for my action were: First, that the capture of the Trent would make it necessary to put a large prize crew (officers and men) on board, and thus materially weaken our battery for use at Port Royal; secondly, that as there were a large number of women and children and mails and specie bound to various ports,
D. Macneill Fairfax (search for this): chapter 4.16
Captain Wilkes's seizure of Mason and Slidell. D. Macneill Fairfax, Rear-Admiral, U. S. N., Executive Officer of the San Jacinto. In October, 1861, the United States screw-sloop San Jacinto, of which Captain Charles Wilkes was commander and the writer was executive officer, on her return from the west coast of Africa, touchg out his instructions. Following is the text of Captain Wilkes's instructions, which, as will be seen from the narrative, were not literally observed by Lieutenant Fairfax: U. S. Steamer San Jacinto. At sea, Nov. 8th, 1861. sir: You will have the second and third cutters of this ship fully manned and armed, and be in all rthe delicacy and kindness which become the character of our Naval Service. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, Charles Wilkes, Captain. To Lieutenant D. M. Fairfax, U. S. N., Executive Officer, San Jacinto. I was impressed with the gravity of my position, and I made up my mind not to do anything unnecessary in the a
William H. Seward (search for this): chapter 4.16
ment, to say the least.--D. M. F. I returned immediately to the Trent and informed Captain Moir that Captain William H. Seward, Secretary of State. From a Daguerreotype taken about 1851. Wilkes would not longer detain him, and he might po Fort Monroe. Here report of the seizure was made, and the vessel was ordered to New York, and thence, by order of Secretary Seward, to Fort Warren, Boston harbor, where the prisoners were confined during the diplomatic correspondence which followeh Government also made an informal protest, through its minister at Washington, M. Mercier. On the 26th of December, Mr. Seward wrote at length to Lord Lyons, reviewing the case, and saying that the commissioners would be cheerfully liberated. In the course of the letter Mr. Seward said: If I decide this case in favor of my own Government, I must disavow its most cherished principles, and reverse and forever abandon its essential policy. The country cannot afford the sacrifice. If I ma
aving the Trent to evidently was galling to Captain Moir. When he did stop his steamer, he showed hper or promenade deck and was introduced to Captain Moir, who, though very gentlemanly in his way ofup at the same time, thus relieving me from Captain Moir's refusal, which was very polite but very pur gentlemen before me, and then I informed Captain Moir that I had been sent by my commander to arrdreadful consequences. This, together with Captain Moir's excellent commanding manner, had a quieti hurried up with six or eight of the crew. Captain Moir was the first to see this body of armed menw what was due to him, but I also knew that Captain Moir was the only person with whom I could have ndward and in mid-channel, and then said to Captain Moir, Now you can move up nearer to the San Jaci After the war I had a conversation with Captain Moir, in the presence of an English chaplain, atl, and I was in command of the Susquehanna. Captain Moir invited the chaplain and myself to lunch, a[7 more...]
Seth Williams (search for this): chapter 4.16
r, scarcely joining in the conversation-always dignified and punctilious. The mail-agent, Commander Williams, an officer of the Royal Navy, on the retired list, was more officious, for he scarcely.leded, and were sent back to their ship a little while before I returned to make my report. Commander Williams was reported as saying when he went to England that I had caused marines to charge upon ded of mine, expressed her mortification that such a story should have been circulated. But Commander Williams bade me good-bye pleasantly when I left the Trent, saying that he was very much pleased atd him, mentioning his language afterward to Captain Wilkes. The truth is that much was made of Williams in England, and he evidently lost his head. Once while the transfer of luggage and stores deinister for foreign affairs, having received the news of the seizure through a letter from Commander Williams (mentioned above), wrote to Lord Lyons, the British minister at Washington, reciting the c
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