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No. 76.

Mr. Bruce to Mr. Hammond.

Seamen of Florida

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WHITEHALL, October 1, 1863. (Received October 1.) SIR: I have laid before Secretary Sir George Grey your letter of the 23d ultimo, on the subject of the seamen forming part of the crew of the confederate steamer Florida, now at Liver- at Liverpool. pool; and I am to transmit to you a copy of the opinion of the lawofficers of the Crown on case submitted to them as to the liability of these seamen, in so far as they may be British subjects, to be proceeded against, and also as to the expediency of such a prosecution; and I am to request that, in laying the same before Earl Russell, you will inform his lordship that Sir George Grey has instructed the solicitor to the treasury to ascertain if the requisite evidence can be obtained for such a prosecution.

I am, &c.,
(Signed)

H. A. BRUCE.

(Inclosure in No. 76.]

Opinion.

I am of opinion that, if evidence can be given of the service of any of these seamen (being British subjects) on board the Florida, while engaged in belligerent operations as a ship of war of the confederate States, they may be proceeded against for misdemeanor, under the earlier sections of the foreign-enlistment act, the prohibitions of which are not limited to acts done within the territorial jurisdiction of Her Majesty.

With respect to the expediency of such a prosecution, my impression is that, if sufficient evidence can be obtained against any persons to whom a knowledge that they

were violating the law may reasonably be imputed, it would be proper to prosecute (116) such *persons in order to make it understood that such acts are not to be com

mitted with impunity. But, with respect to so large a body of seamen, the prosecution of all would be inanifestly inexpedient, even if practicable; and, as they appear to be no longer in the confederate service, the persons (if any) to be prosecuted should be taken from among the most intelligent of those who are reported to “seen anxious to be re-engaged in the service of the Confederate States.”

For the attorney general and myself,
(Signed)

ROUNDELL PALMER. LINCOLN'S Ixx, September 28, 1863.

No. 77.

Case submitted to the law officers as to prosecution of the crew of the Florida.

The following is a copy of a letter received this morning from the Home Office:

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WHITEHALL, October 10, 1963. Sir: Referring to the opinion of the lawr-officers of the Crown, on the case which was submitted to thenı as to the prosecution of certain seamen forming part of the crew of the confederate steamer Florida, I am directed by Secretary Sir George Grey to transmit to you herewith the several letters which have been received from Messrs. Townsend & Jackson, of Birkenhead, and their inclosures, and to request that you will lay the same before the attorney and solicitor general, and move them to favor Sir George Grey with their opinion, whether the evidence set forth in the inclosed

H. Ex. 282–23

papers-if it can be obtained—will be sufficient to warrant the institution of proceedings against the seamen in question, or any of them.

I am, &c.,
(Signed)

H. A. BRUCE. J. GREENWOOD, Esq., fc., fc., fc.

The letters received from Messrs. Townsend & Jackson, of Birkenhead, and their inclosures, are as follows:

BIRKENHEAD, October 6, 1863. DEAR SIR: We inclose a copy of the statement of William Thompson, who was on board the Florida from the 20th October, 1862, to the end of August last, also a list of the fifty-nine of her crew who came to Liverpool, with particulars of the capacities in which they served on board, of the dates of their joining the vessel, and, so far as Thompson knows, of the nations to which they severally belong. We did not think it advisable to press him to-day as to whether any of the crew were being kept here with a view of being put on board any other confederate vessels, as we bad not acquainted him with our object in obtaining his evidence, and he began to show some uneasiness as to it. As we are doubtful of his coming into court as a willing witness we put his statement into the form ofan affidavit, thinking that if he could be got to swear to the facts now he would be less reluctant to come forward hereafter ; but though he assures us of the truth of this statement he declines to swear to it, apparently from some conscientious feeling.

The Jobn Clayton mentioned in the head-constable of Liverpool's report was not on board the Florida, as there stated; and the number of the crew should have been fiftynine, in lieu of ninety-tive.

We are, &c.,
(Signed)

TOWNSEND & JACKSON.
The SOLICITOR TO THE TREASURY.
P.S.-Lirerpool, 6 p. m.– Thompson has returned, and las consented to make the
affidavit, which our Nr. Jackson has taken as a votary.

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I, William Thompson, of the State of New York, in North America, make oath and say as follows: I am an American citizen; I have served on board an American ship of war before the

present war. I was in Mobile in the State of Alabama when this war broke out, and I [117] * shipped on board the Florida as a landsman, to escape the conscription, receiving

a bounty of $50 in confederate notes. I shipped at a regular shipping-office at Mobile, expressly for the Florida, of which J. W. Maftit was captain, on the 16th October, and went on board on the 20th October, 1862. I remained on board until paid off at Brest. After lying at Mobile for three months we ran the blockade, slipping out on a dark night. The moon went down at about 10 p. m., and we then slipped down to the fort and anchored. About 10 a. m. we started again (burning coke) and passed close to some of the Federal ships. When the coke was all burned, we had to use soft coal, which mare much smoke, and we were in consequence discovered, and the gun-boat Collier gave chase, following us up to 3 in the afternoon through a heavy lead sea. We struck direct from Mobile for Havana, and when three days out burned the brig Estelle, laden with honey and molasses, taking the crew to Havana and landing them there. We stopped at Havana for forty-eight honrs and then crept along the coast of Cuba, and within about five or six hours burned the brig Windward from Matamoras. On the same day we burned two more brigs, before we got to a light-house on the coast of Havana, one bound from Philadelphia and the other homeward to Portland. We sighted a steamer early the following morning, and struck then for Nassau for coals, throwing overboard those got from Havana. We stopped at Nassau for about tweutyfour hours; twenty-nine men deserted there. We were out from Nassau about six or seven days, and burned the clipper-ship Jacob Bell, of New York. We went into Barbados for coal before meeting any other vessel, and four or five days after leaving Barbados we burned the Star of Peace. The next ship we fell in with was the bark Lapwing, which was captured, and the first lieutenant took command of her, and she was afterward made into a privateer, a field-piece from the Florida being put on boarul: and the next day we captured the M. J. Colquitt and burned her. We afterwards burned another bark and then went to meet the Lapwing, which we met about 12 o'clock on a Tuesday off Saint Paul's Rock. We took the lieutenant, men, and field-piece off her, and put a midshipman, a master, mate, and seven men on board. We filled up our bikers with coals, with which she was laden; we then left her and went down the line and burned the Commonwealth, of New York. This was some time about May or June. The next ship was the Oneida, bound to New York with tea. We burned another ship on the line whose name I forget. We then made for Pernambuco and burned a bark of Baltimore, and afterward, in June, captured a brig bound from Rio to Baltiinore with coffee and hides, and put Lieutenant Reed, twenty-one men, and one field-piece on board. We then went to Fernanda Rona and lay there five days, waiting for the Alabama, and landed about forty-nine or fifty prisoners; the Alabama did pot come there during our stay. We afterward put into Pernambuco for coals, where we shipped some extra hands. We lay there five days, and thence went to an uninhabited island, called Rocas Island, on the coast of Brazil, where we lay about

two weeks, waiting for the bark Lapwing; she did not come there, and we went to Serra, a Brazilian port, to coal. Four days out of Serra we burned the Crown Point. The next ship we burnt was the Southern Star, then the Red Ganntlet, the next was Hawkseye; this was coming up toward New York. We afterward captured a schooner and put all the prisoners on board and ransomed her. The next was a ship outward from New York; we ransomed her; this was about August. The next day we sighted an English brig, and while overhauling her the Federal war-steamer Ericsson came up with us and we fired into her, but a fog came on and she got out of my sight. We sighted her again about three miles ahead and gave chase, but she escaped us. We then sighted an American brig and burned her; about two hours after we fell in with a whaling schooner, the crew of which had left in her boats on seeing the burning brig. We afterward ransomed an American passenger-ship, ten days out from Liverpool. We struck out then for the Irish Channel and landed Dr. Garett and Mr. Everett, the first lieutenant, and Mr. Hunter, master mate, about seven miles off the Cove of Cork. We then went to Tuskar, and cruised for two days round Tuskar light. We then left, and about twenty-four hours afterward burned the Anglo-Saxon. We then took the crew and pilot of the Anglo-Saxon into Brest, and there I left the Florida. There may have been more vessels burned and ransomed while I was on board. We were all shipped “for the war unless sooner discharged;" and I, and I believe all the rest of the crew, signed articles to that effect. Strict discipline was maintained on board similar to what is maintained on board a man-of-war, except as to uniform ; the discipline was occasionally not so striet, for at times the officers got drunk. All men who joined from other ships joined voluntarily; no compulsion was used. Tho Florida is a steamer of about 700 tons, and must have been built for war purposes. She was armed with six broad

side-guns and two pivots, all rifled, and two field-pieces. She could carry no cargo. [118] * We bad forty Entield rifles and about eighty ten-shooters, also cutlasses and

boarding-pikes. The crew was regularly drilled at the guns mostly every day; each gun had its regular crew. The paper now produced to me, and marked A, is a list of the crew of the Florida, who came to Liverpool from Brest, and to the best of my knowledge and belief the particulars contained in it are correct. The persons mentioned in it all served on board the Florida during the time I served in her. She was named the Oreto when I signed the articles. (Signed)

WILLIAM THOMPSON. Sworn at Liverpool, in the county of Lancaster, this 6th day of October, 1863, before (Signed)

WILLIAM JACKSON,

Notary Public, Liverpool.

me.

Discharge. This is to certify that No. 49, William Thompson, a coal-heaver, bas this day been discharged from the Confederate States steamer Florida and from the naval service. Dated this 2d of September, 1862. (Signed)

JOHN R. DAVIS, Paymaster. Approved. (Signed)

J. W. MAFFIT, Commander. And due August 31, 1863, $129.70, (£27 08. 5d.) Received at Liverpool, this 29th day of September, 1863, the within-mentioned sum of £27 0s. 5d., being the balance of wages due to me. (Signed)

WILLIAM THOMPSON. Witnesses: (Signed) J. W. CARR.

WILLIAM STONE.

more of the men they joined the Florida, and two days after she left. Mr. Everett, the first lieutenant, engaged us. We signed no articles. Mr. Everett told me that my wages would be $22 a month and $50 bounty, which would be paid at the first southern port we came to. I shipped as an able seaman. I was one of the crew of the maintopmast. We then went on a cruise looking out for American ships.

On the second day after leaving Fernanda Rona, we fell in with the Crown Point, a large American ship, bound to New York. We captured her and burned her, and took her crew on board. Several of them joined us. Abont a week after this we fell in with the Sunrise packet-ship. We ransomed her and let her go. A day after this we fell in with the Ericsson Federal gun-boat. We gave her a broadside, and she ran oft. We chased her, but she outsailed us and got away. The same night we fell in with a small whaling schooner. We took out the crew and burned her. We afterward found another schooner, which had been abandoned just before we burned her.

Several days after this, we came up with the Red Gauntlet, a large ship of New York. We captured her and put a prize crew on board, and put her crew in irons in our ship. We kept her alongside fourteen days, and were taking coals out of her, when we fell in with the Hawkseye, of New York. We took eighty-one bars of silver out of her. We then burned her. About four days after, we burned the Red Gauntlet. Some time after this we fell in with an American ship, the name of which I forget; she had 361 passengers. We ransomed her, and let her go. We cruised about for a long time, and at last got into the English Channel, and cruised there for three days; and then put the first lieutenant, the doctor, and a midshipman, on shore at Holyhead, by a fishing-boat. The evening before, a fishing-smack had been got alongside, for the purpose of landing these gentlemen at Cork; but for some reason or other that was given up, and that smack sent away; and the next morning another smack took them and landed them near Holyhead. While we were in the Channel, about five miles off Lundy Island, we took and burned the Anglo-Saxon, an American ship, ontwarıbound for New York. The pilot bad not left her. We took the crew and pilot on board. We then went to Brest, where we had money given to us to bring 118 to Liverpool, where we were paid off. The Florida was built and fitted up altogether as a vessel of war. She could not have carried cargo. She had six broadside 68-pounders, and two pivots, fore and aft, 120-pounders; there was a crew of thirteen to each broadside-gun, and

twenty-two to each pivot-gun. I was first hand-spikemau to No. 2 broadside-gun, [121] We *had 270 or 280 10-barreled revolvers, several chests of cutlasses, a great mm

ber of common and rifled muskets, boarding-spikes, and other arms. I have had the list of the crew read over to me. I remember them all, except John Gillespie. I believe the following to be either English or Irish: Jolin Curran, I believe, is an Irishman; the Irish always kept together a good deal, and the others used to remark npon it, and joke them for it. Curran used to keep with the other Irishmen; and I have heard remarks made upon this habit of theirs, as Irisbmen, in his presence. He never said he was not an Irishman ; I never heard him say distinctly that he was. Patrick Cassadine, I believe, is an Irishman. I was good friends with him, and he told me his father and mother and sister lived near Limerick; and on Thursday, the 8th instant. he went by an Irish steamer to Limerick to go to see them, as he said. I saw him on board. Hugh Conway, I believe to be an Irishman. I have heard him say, when he and the other Irish were chatting in the berth-deck, “ Come, we are all Irish together, let us have a song.” William Davis is, I believe, an Irishman; but I have no particular reason for saying so. Thomas Duggan is an Irishman, I believe; he always kept with the other Irish, and would sing songs about Ireland. Henry Culligan is an Irishman. I have heard him talk of going over to Dublin; he always kept company with the other Irish. James Fagan is an Irishman, and is now living with the other Irish in Liverpool. Thomas Doris in an Irishman. I have often heard him talk of Ireland as his country; he had been in a confederate gun-boat before he joined the Florida. John Taylor I always thonght was an Englishman; he used to tell me a good deal about England, and especially about London. I thought he belonged to London. John McNevin, I believe, is an Irishman: he talked about Ireland and Dublin. I have heard him say that when the war was over he would go home to Ireland to spend his prize-money. William McCabe is an Irishman. I have heard him talk of going home to Ireland; he was to have gone with another Irishman named McGarrock. McGarrock went to Dublin by steam about a week ago, but McCabe would not go. I have often heard him and McGarrock talk of Ireland as their country. James Weeks is an Irishman. I have heard hiin talking Irish to the other Irishmen. I think James Burns is an Englishman; be shipped at the same time with myself. When askel by the quartermaster where he had been, he said he had served on board an English man-ofwar. He used to talk about Liverpool, and London, and other English towns, and never kept company with the Irish. Francis Rivers is an Irishman; I have heard bim say so at Brest, when in a quarrel with some others of the crew. Think Charles A. Grover is an Englishman; he sailed from Liverpool a little time since in an English ship; I do not know on what voyage. Thomas King I believe to be an Irishman; he kept with the Irish, and I bave heard him talk about the Irish farmers, and other

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things about Ireland, as if he had spent a good deal of his life there. I do not know whether he is now in England; I have not seen him for some time. Peter Morris, I think, is Irish ; he always kept with the Irish, and now lodges with them in Liverpool. Peter Welsh is an Irishman; I have heard him say so often ; be lodges in the same house with me; he belongs to Dublin. I have been told by several of the men that they have had their names put down by a Mr. Jones, to serve again in the confederate service, and that they must hold themselves in readiness for a week or two. Nearly all those now in Liverpool have, I believe, entered their names. I have not done so, as. I do not wish to enter the confederate service again. The paper writing marked A, now produced to me, is the list of the crew of the Florida, before referred to in this affidavit. (Signed)

LUIS MÜLLER. Sworn at Liverpool, in the county of Lancaster, this 10th day of October, 1863, before me, William Jackson, of Liverpool, notary public, duly admitted and sworn in faith and testimony, whereof I have hereunto set my hand and aftised my notarial seal of office, on the day and year last aforesaid. (Signed)

WILLIAM JACKSON,

Notary Public, Liverpool.

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