Mon Nov 21 1864|
SECNAV writes CDR C H Baldwin, USN "I have received your letter of the 17th instant, enclosing an article clipped from the editorial columns of the New York Herald of the 13th instant, which, although [neither] your name nor that of the Vanderbilt is mentioned, you think reflects upon your official reputation while in command of that vessel, and asking if you were detached because of any want of energy..
The Department takes pleasure in stating that you were not detached from the Vanderbilt because of any want of energy. The manner in which you discharged the duties of commander of that vessel was entirely satisfactory to the Department.
The Vanderbilt is a commodores command, but while on independent service she was placed under your command at the request of the liberal gentleman who donated the vessel to the Government. When she became attached to the North Atlantic Squadron, in which there were captains serving, it was necessary that the command should be given to an officer of that rank; hence your detachment."
CH. J Helm, writes Don Domingo Dulce, Governor of Cuba, "I have now the honor to lay before you the facts, as far as they have come to my knowledge, of the proposed and subsequent capture of the Federal merchant steamer Roanoke, in writing, as I did in person on the 19th ultimo, and regret to say the delay has not resulted in furnishing me with any important additional facts to those presented to you on the occasion of my last visit.
About the 15th day of August last John C. Braine, holding a temporary commission as acting master in the C. S. Navy, called on me and represented that he had with him thirteen Confederates and proposed to recruit here ten additional men, and embark with his whole party on board the Federal steamer Roanoke and capture her after leaving Spanish waters; that necessary to the success of his enterprise he must obtain from me as the agent of the Confederate States funds in sufficient amount to defray expenses, arm his party, and pay their passage to New York. I at once objected to his plan, and informed him that any attempt of the kind would be regarded by the authorities in Richmond, as well as in Havana and at Madrid, as an unjustifiable interference with the neutrality of Spain. He replied that he had authority from Richmond, and would make the attempt at all hazards. I read his orders, which contained no such authority, but bound him to the strictest observance of neutral rights. I then told him I would assume the responsibility of defeating his unlawful enterprise, which I did by sending for his people, twelve of whom, after hearing my objections, agreed to abandon Braine and return to the Confederate States. I then saw Brigadier-General Perry, captain of the port, and informed him of the presence here and object of these people, and obtained from him permits for the twelve men to embark, which they did on the 23d day of August, on the British schooner Wild Pigeon, for Nassau. Braine and his one friend remained here, whose presence the captain of the port did not deem at all dangerous. Though I saw Braine several times in the streets, he never approached me afterwards.
On the 17th day of August, under the impression that Braine's attempt to violate the neutrality of Spain had been defeated by me, I addressed a communication to the Hon. J. P. Benjamin, Secretary of State for the Confederate States, at Richmond, in which I reported very fully all the facts connected with Braine's visit to Cuba, his object and intentions, and my agency in breaking up his party, and on the 17th ultimo received Mr. Benjamin's reply, in which he assured me of the entire approval by the President of my conduct, and concluded by saying:
The attempt of Braine to organize a hostile expedition in the harbor of Havana was a gross outrage, and you very properly prevented its accomplishment. We are the more gratified that you did so by reason of the just and fair neutrality which the Cuban authorities have observed in the several instances cited ia your dispatch.
The manner of the subsequent capture of the Roanoke is still a matter of speculation. That it was done without authority from the Government of the Confederate States, or the knowledge or complicity of any authorized agent or official of that Government, your excellency may be assured, and from the foregoing it is clear the responsibility rests only with the individuals engaged in the unlawful capture.
The reported facts, that Braine's second party, organized here, consisted of only eight or ten men; that the crew of the Roanoke numbered some sixty persons; that the captain had been warned that an attempt would be made to capture his steamer; that Braine, though an Englishman by birth, was recently a resident of the same State as the captain of the Roanoke (North Carolina), and that the Roanoke stopped after leaving the harbor of Havana, contrary to your regulations, to take Braine on board, leads irresistibly to the conclusion that the Federals controlling the steamer Roanoke are in some measure responsible for her capture."
SECNAV writes RADM Jonathan Dahlgren, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, "Your No. 547, enclosing report of survey on the sloop of war St. Louis, was received.
The St. Louis is a very old vessel and not worth repairing at much cost. Let her be patched up as well as possible and perform service in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron."
CDR William E Le Roy, USS Ossipee writes RADM David Glasgow Farragut, West Gulf Blockading Squadron, from Pensacola, "I have the honor to report my arrival in this port this morning. On Sunday week the Lackawanna arrived off Galveston, and having turned over to Captain Marchand all the papers and information in my possession, I left the same evening for Sabine Pass, where I arrived the next morning, and the following day (Tuesday) convened a court-martial in obedience to your order of November 10. The court having concluded its labor early on Thursday morning, at noon of that day I left for this port. On Sunday forenoon I communicated at Mobile Bay with the fleet for the purpose of reporting to yourself the necessity for an overhauling of the engines of this ship, as they lately have occasioned us much trouble, and requesting your permission to do so at this port, as we could not, in our present condition, do any service that would require much running.
The senior engineer thinks from four to five weeks labor will put his department in serviceable condition.
The ship also leaks considerably, but I am in hopes calking a few strakes outside, near the water line, will correct to some extent that trouble. I communicated with Captain Jenkins, the senior officer present, commanding Second Division West Gulf Blockading Squadron, but I deem it proper to address you officially upon the subject.
I have stated this morning to Commander Armstrong the wants, etc., and he has given orders to the chief engineer and to the carpenter of the yard to make the necessary inspection, and such repairs, etc., as may be necessary will be commenced immediately."
RADM Samuel P Lee, Mississippi Squadron, writes a general order "1. The accounts of the officers and crews of the U. S. S. Undine, captured October 30, 1864, and of the U. S. steamers Key West, Tawah, and Elfin, destroyed November 4, 1864, will be taken up by the paymaster of the receiving ship Great Western from the day subsequent to the loss of the vessels to which they belonged.
2. The paymasters of these vessels will make up and transfer the accounts of these officers and men to the paymaster of the Great Western.
3. The fleet paymaster will see that this order is observed in these and in similar future cases, and that the necessary returns are made of all missing persons."