Thu Dec 22 1864|
CMDR Thomas T Craven, USS Niagra writes SECNAV " Last night I had the honor to receive your communications of the 28th and 29th ultimo, the first, with its enclosures, from our vice- consul-general at Havana, in reference to the design of Leon Smith, of the insurgent service, to fit out a steamer at Liverpool and to cruise against our commerce; the second a reply to my No. 43, dated the 31st October, asking where I am to resort for a harbor during the coming winter, and for your instructions as to the extent and direction of my cruising ground, etc.
I have written to our minister at London and to Mr. Dudley at Liverpool, enclosing copies of yours and Mr. Savage's letters, and trust it is not yet too late to receive such information as will enable me to intercept the steamer to be fitted out by Smith, should she be permitted to leave the ports of Great Britain.
The Sacramento sailed from here about the 16th ultimo on a cruise toward Lisbon and Cadiz. I am anxiously awaiting her return, in the hope she may be of service in cooperating with me in the search for Smith.
Though it is but a bleak and dreary anchorage, I shall make this harbor my principal headquarters for the winter."
ASSIST SECNAV telegrams CMDR John Rodger, USS Dictator, "Yesterday the fleet were inactive at their destination on account of continued bad weather. This from General Grant. You may be in time yet."
Master I A Pennell, USS Ethan Allen, writes RADM Jonathan Dahlgren, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, " I have the honor to make the following report:
Having learned from a contraband that there was a picket station at Troops plantation, 20 miles up the Altamaha River, I fitted out an expedition and left the ship at dark on the evening of the 20th instant, with launch and howitzer and other boats, with 3 officers and 40 men. Arriving at the plantation at 2 a. m., sent my guide for an old negro, who, I had been informed, could lead me to the camp. He soon came down to the boats, and informed me that they were encamped at a house about 2 miles inland, and offered to lead me to them, which duty he performed faithfully. We arrived at the house about 3 a. m., and surrounded it, captured 7 of the picket men with 7 horses, and their arms, consisting of 5 rifled and 1 old flintlock musket; a corporal and one man that was on guard escaped. I also captured a Mr. Sawyer, at one time first lieutenant of the company, but said he had resigned. Finding an old scow at the head of the canal, I concluded to wait for high water to float it out and bring off the horses, which I succeeded in doing. While waiting, the whole force of the county, with Captain Hunter's company of cavalry, about 60 men, came down on us and attempted to drive us off; we had some sharp skirmishing with them for four hours. Soon as the tide flowed enough to float the launch within range, I threw shell and grape into the houses in which they were secreted, causing them to fall back to the woods, out of range. At high water I succeeded in floating the scow out of the canal and embarked with the prisoners and horses, also 7 contrabands; one of them, the old negro who piloted me to the camp, and returned on board at 1 a. m., on the morning of the 21st instant. The prisoners I will forward to you by the first opportunity. As regards the horses, I await your orders. I regret to state that one of my men was slightly wounded in the foot by the accidental discharge of one of the captured muskets while passing it into the boats."
SECNAV writes RADM S K Stribling, East Gulf Blockading Squadron, "Agreeably to the nomination, the Department informs you that the Senate advises and consents to your appointment as commander of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron."
ASSIST SECNAV writes Hon. Edward Everett of Boston "I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 19th instant, enclosing a petition for the exchange of Mr. John Skinner Thompson, paymaster's clerk of the Clifton, and expressing your earnest desire that the exchange may be effected if possible.
You are probably aware that the matter of exchanges is entirely in the hands of the War Department. This Department has never lost sight of the naval prisoners in Texas, and has exerted itself, so far as it could, to secure their exchange. Rear-Admiral Farragut was authorized to offer in exchange for them the rebel Navy officers captured in Mobile Bay. This proposition was made, but the insurgent commissioner demanded that Admiral Buchanan should be included in the exchange, and as instructions had been given to send that officer North, Rear-Admiral Farragut did not feel authorized to give him up, and so the matter ended there. Since then the Department has requested Major-General Butler to offer Admiral Buchanan in exchange, especially for our Navy officers in Texas. he replied that he would do so, but the result has not been made known. The War Department has, in pursuance of an urgent appeal from this Department, just addressed General Canby at New Orleans in reference to effecting the exchange of the Navy officers and seamen in Texas.
From this statement you will understand that we are doing all we can in the matter, and I hope and believe that before very long the desired object will be accomplished."