Sun Apr 17 1864|
F H Morse, US Consul, London, writes CAPT Jonathan A Winslow, USS Kearsarge, "I received your letter by the hand of Captain Wheeler last evening, and am much obliged to you for communicating the result of your paymaster's visit to Mr. Dayton.
I am sorry you feel compelled by circumstances which you can not control to remove so far from the object of your pursuit as Ostende. But you have Mr. Adams's letters, of which I know nothing, and have all the facts before you, and must judge for yourself of the right course to be pursued by you under the perplexing circumstances which surround you.
The twenty-four-hour rule as applicable to vessels in port with rebel privateers, or remaining in English ports longer without leave, is not a principle of international law, but is a regulation prescribed by the country adopting it; yet I suppose it must be regarded as a law of this country, and if you have been requested to observe it, hard and unjust as it appears in your case, I would not advise its infringement. Yet I should not abandon the right allowed you of running into any port in good weather and staying twenty-four hours, and if the weather is too bad to stay out in safety you have the right to stay longer.
I hear the Georgia has men, guns, etc., for another privateer. She may be sending them to her by another vessel. If you only felt confident that the Rappahannock would be detained for any length of time you might seek the Georgia. I would plant myself near one or the other with a firm determination to have her, come what may.
With these twenty-four-hour regulations against us, to obtain success it seems to me the Annette is indispensable. Mr. Rhett notified me yesterday that the charter money for the second fortnight was due, and I shall pay it on Monday. As she is employed in a naval operation and takes the place of a second ship of war, and as she is neutral and under the English flag and can go where she pleases, and is now of really more use than a ship would be to aid in catching the Rappahannock, I hope you will find no difficulty in seeing the propriety and expediency of ordering a settlement of her accounts.
With a renewed expression of the hope of yet seeing one or more of those sea rovers and pests bound homeward under the Stars and Stripes, made captives through your instrumentality,"
RADM Samuel P Lee, North Atlantic Blockading Squadron writes ENS James Bietwistle, USN "You have eight or ten days leave of absence to enable you to deliver the remains of the late Acting Volunteer Lieutenant Wilder to his family in Massachusetts.
This brave officer has just fallen in conflict with the enemy, and I trust you will meet with the necessary facilities to enable you to accomplish the benevolent object in view.
Present my sincere condolence to Mrs. Wilder and assure her that the professional and personal qualities of the lamented dead were such as to command the respect and esteem of all who were associated with him in service."
CDR George B Balch, SOPA Jacksonville, FL, writes CMDR S C Rowan, South Atlantic Blockading Squadron "I regret to inform you that the steamer General Hunter was sunk by a torpedo yesterday at 9 a. m.. whilst on her way from Picolata to this place. The Norwich was convoying the Cosmopolitan and General Hunter, the two leading vessels having safely passed, and drawing from 3 to 4 feet more water, when the explosion took place, and by which the Hunter was sunk in five minutes, with the loss of a quartermaster of the Hunter.
There were three gunboats up the river at the time, and had been employed convoying the transports up and down the river. It is fortunate the accident did not take place when the vessel was loaded with troops, or the loss of life must have been great. I have directed Lieutenant-Commander Bacon, of the Unadilla, who was in the vicinity at the time of the explosion, to assist in saving property from the wreck.
It is supposed that the Norwich and Cosmopolitan passed very near the torpedo, and that in making a turn in the channel the Hunter was blown off to leeward, as she had much surface exposed to the action of the wind, which was fresh, and having but little hold on the water she imperceptibly drifted out of the wake of the other two vessels. She was endeavoring to follow (as they all do) exactly in the wake of the gunboat.
I will send you reports from Lieutenant-Commander Bacon and Acting Master Meriam, commanding the Norwich, as soon as I can get them. As soon as the accident occurred, which took place near the wreck of the Maple Leaf, the Norwich and Unadilla proceeded to render every assistance in their power.
The Mahaska is down the river, where it is thought the enemy will try and destroy transports passing between Jacksonville and the river."
CAPT J B Marchand, 3rd Division West Gulf Blockading Squadron, writes LCDR B B Taylor, USS Kanawha "You will be pleased to proceed with the U. S. gunboat Kanawha under your command to the southern part of the coast of Texas.
Pass Cavallo will be considered your headquarters, but you will frequently cruise along the coast from Caney Creek to the Rio Grande remaining at the latter place two or three days at a time. You will also render such assistance to our land forces as within your power.
The consul-general of the United States (Franklin Chase, esq.) at Tampico represents that blockade running is very active between that place and the Texas coast, particularly to the ports of Velasco and Galveston. It is presumed that those illegal traders, after leaving port, keep for 20 to 30 miles from the southern part of Texas coast; therefore it would be advisable in your cruising to run off that distance from the shore, at intervals, for observation.
Trade with Brownsville has been permitted, under certain restrictions, by proclamation of the President of the United States, dated February 18, 1864, a copy of which you have been furnished, and which will be your guide of action.
Accompanying I send extracts in relation to the blockade off Rio Grande.
A coal vessel is off Pass Cavallo, from which you will draw your supplies, and at the expiration of a month you will please return to this place unless circumstances compel you to remain a longer or shorter period.
It is desirable that you keep the commanding officer at this station informed of events by every opportunity."
MGEN N P Banks, USA, Department of the Gulf, writes LCDR Thomas O Selfridge, USS Osage, "I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this date. On the 15th I had an interview with Admiral Porter, in which our position was fully discussed, but I did not know that he was to leave this post.
In reference to the operations of the army, I can only say at present that we are here under instructions from the Government to move upon Shreveport in cooperation with the forces of General Steele. General Steele fails to cooperate with us as far as we can learn, and thus far, renders us no assistance. I have sent to him by the way of Little Rock to request of him to join us upon the line of Red River, where we can move forward in column against the enemy. With the cooperation of his forces, on occupation of Shreveport is certain and immediate. It is impossible to say at this time whether we shall receive this cooperation or not. Until it is ascertained definitely that this part of the plan of the Government at Washington will fall through, and that my force is insufficient to advance farther upon this line against the enemy, who appears to be in full force, I shall entertain no thought of a retrograde movement, certainly not if it leaves the navy in any danger. No such purpose is contemplated now. I have sent for all the troops that can be gathered from my own department to move to this point immediately. I have also requested, as I have stated, the cooperation of General Steele. Governor [Willard P.] Hall, of Missouri, who is here, expresses great interest in the success of this campaign, and will do all he can to send forces from Missouri, which he says can be spared from that State. If this assistance fails, I can then determine what course to pursue. Until then it is my purpose to maintain my position.
Had I known you to have been in command, or that Admiral Porter was absent, I should have sought an interview with you upon the subject embraced in your letter. In my interview with the admiral, he expressed the utmost confidence in the rise of the river, and did not speak of the withdrawal either of his vessels or the troops. His last suggestion to me was, that it would be imprudent for me to advance until the river should rise.
I will take an early occasion to explain to you in person my view of the situation of our affairs."