« PreviousContinue »
Given in the Palace of Rio de Janeiro, on the 30th of December, 1822. First of Independence and of the Empire.
LUIZ DA CUNHA MOREIRA.
CORRESPONDENCE between the Commanders of the Cruizers of The United States and the Spanish Authorities, in the West Indies, respecting Piratical Vessels, and the Spanish Blockade of Terra Firma. Transmitted in the Documents from the Naval Department, accompanying the President's Message to Congress, 3d Decembe, 1822.
(1.)-Captain Biddle to the Secretary of the Navy. United States' Frigate Macedonian. Havannah, 6th May, 1822. I HAVE the honour to inform you that I arrived here on the 28th ultimo my passage was somewhat protracted by chasing, out of my course, suspicious looking Vessels among the Islands, and by having 2 days under convoy an American Schooner, that requested me to see her safe past Cape Antonio. On my arrival, I saluted the CaptainGeneral and the Admiral, receiving from each, in return, gun for gun, agreeably to previous arrangement. On the 29th, I had an interview with the Captain-General, relative to the business with which I am charged by Mr. Adams, the Secretary of State. On the 30th I addressed a communication to him, upon the subject of landing our Boats and Men upon the Coast of Cuba when in pursuit of Pirates. I enclose a Copy of my Communication, as also of the Captain-General's Answer; and you will perceive he declines acceding to the proposition I made to him. I think it preferable to pursue one object at a time with the Government here, and I shall therefore drop this subject for the present, renewing it when my Correspondence in regard to the Florida Documents is terminated. He certainly ought, and perhaps will consent, to our landing upon those parts of the Coast that are uninhabited, and where, though within his jurisdiction, he is utterly incapable of exercising any authority. There are many such Places on the Coasts of this Island.
The measures adopted by the Captain-General, and to which he refers in his Letter to me, consist simply of a Proclamation, in March last, establishing certain Regulations with respect to the clearances of coasting Vessels, Launches, and other Boats. These Regulations, I understand, are not strictly enforced, and, even if they were, they are altogether insufficient for the suppression of Piracy along the extensive Coast of Cuba. As this Proclamation has been published
in the American Newspapers, I do not think it necessary to send you a Copy.
I regret to state that I have not met any of our Cruizers either at this Port or off Cape Antonio, nor have I been able to gain any infor mation as to where they probably now are. It is some time since any of them were here. The British Frigate Tribune is here, from Porto Bello, and is about to sail for England with specie. I have, &c. Hon. Smith Thompson. JAMES BIDDLE.
(Inclosure 1.)-Captain Biddle to the Governor of Cuba. United States' Frigate Macedonian, Havannah, 30th April, 1822 I HAVE the honour to represent, that the commercial relations be tween The United States and Cuba are already very considerable, and that they would unquestionably be more considerable, if rendered more secure from unlawful depredations. As these relations, too, are mutually beneficial, it is important to both Parties that they should be effectually protected. For this object the Government of The United States, on its part, has employed an adequate Naval Force, which is placed under my direction and controul. But as the depredations have been committed chiefly in open Boats, immediately upon the Coast, and off the Harbours, it is important that we should have Excel your lency's co-operation. I have, therefore, the honour to propose, your Excellency should so far co-operate with me as to sanction the landing, upon the Coast of Cuba, of our Boats and Men, when in pursuit of Pirates. This measure would be promotive of our commea benefit, is indispensable to the entire suppression of Piracy, and is not intended in any manner to infringe upon the territorial rights of your Excellency. It will operate against those only whose atrocious crimes render them obnoxious to every regular Government, and should place them without the protection of all Law. I have, &c. H. E. Don Nicholas Mahy.
(Inclosure 2.)-The Governor of Cuba to Captain Biddle. (Translation.) Havannah, 2d May, 1822.
I AM too sensible of the importance of the commercial relations which exist, and may continue, between the Ports of this Island and those of The United States, which I am desirous of cultivating, not to have adopted measures to put a stop to depredations which might obstruct them along the extensive Coasts of this Island, under my jurisdiction. I repeat, that such measures have been adopted, and have been made publick; and with the zealous co-operation with which you informed me you are charged, we shall doubtless effect shortly a happy extermination of those Enemies, who, under all Colours, have laid
waste and committed robberies, both on the High Seas and every Coast, without respecting any Flag.
With respect to the permission you solicit, for landing upon this Coast with Troops and People in Boats, for the purpose of pursuing those Pirates, I cannot and must not consent to it. I repeat that the necessary measures have been adopted to defend my territorial jurisdiction and for the apprehension of every description of Outlaws.
All which I communicate in answer to your Official Letter of yesterday. God preserve you many Years. NICHOLAS MAHY.
J. Biddle, Esq.
(2.)-Lieutenant Gregory to Captain Biddle.
I HAVE the honour to acquaint you, for the information of the Hon. Secretary of the Navy, that I arrived at St. Bartholomew's on the 2d of August; sailed again on the 7th with Convoy for St. Thomas. On the morning of the 9th fell in with 2 Spanish Cruizers off Tortola, who demanded permission, and claimed a right, to board the Convoy, which being peremptorily refused, they hauled off. The same day I arrived at St. Thomas, and received from Captain John Souther, of the Schooner Coquette, of Georgetown, D. C. the enclosed Deposition, having been plundered by those Vessels. On the 14th I left St. Thomas, with two valuable Vessels, bound to Curaçoa, and on the evening of the 15th saw an hermaphrodite Brig, hovering upon our weather quarter, apparently a Cruizer; continued my course without regarding her; at day light made her a-head and gave chase; at half past 9, having gained considerably upon her, she hoisted English Colours; changed them to Spanish at 10, and fired a gun to windward, and at half past 10 hove too, and set a white Flag at the fore. On nearing her I perceived her to be the Pirate that had fired upon and plundered the Coquette, and therefore considered it my duty to arrest her. At 20 minutes past 11 the Grampus was laid under her lee, within pistol shot, and her surrender demanded as a Pirate, which she affected not to understand, and answered me to that import. While repeating the demand, he poured into us a full volley from his small arms and cannon, which was instantly returned, and continued 3 minutes, when he struck his Colours, a complete wreck, having 1 man killed and 6 wounded, and in a sinking condition. The Boats were dispatched instantly to their relief, and it was only owing to the great exertions of Lieutenant Voorhies, that she was prevented from going down, having received 3 shot between wind and water, one of which injured the pumps. The Grampus received some trifling injury in her sails and rigging, but not a Man hurt.
The captured Vessel proved to be the notorious Privateer Palmyra, formerly the Pancheta, from Porto Rico; carries I long brass 18, and 8 181b. carronades, and a Crew of 88 men. They acknowledge the robbery of the Coquette, and the only excuse given by the Officer is, that they could not prevent those things happening now and then. Several of the plundered articles were found on board. Captain Biddle.
FRANCIS H. GREGORY.
(Inclosure.)—Deposition of the Captain of the Coquette. St. Thomas, 10th August, 1822. PERSONALLY appeared before us, Capt. John Souther, Commander, and in part Owner, of the Schooner Coquette, of Georgetown, D. C. who, being duly sworn upon the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, deposeth and saith, that he is a native born Citizen of The United States of America, and that, while on a Voyage in said Vessel to the West India Islands, and on his passage from St. Bartholomew's to St. Thomas, on the morning of the 9th of August, 1822, at 5 A. M. Gr thereabouts, he was fired at by a sail in chase, upon which, the Deponent sayeth, he immediately hove too. Was boarded by an Officer and Boat's Crew, under Venezuelian Colours; they immediately demanded his Papers; after examining them, they commenced searching the Vessel, then went into my cabin, and searched the births, chests, &c. They took from the Vessel stock, and clothing from the Officers and Men. The Deponent further says, she was an hermaphrodite Brig with a red streak, and 1 long gun midships and several others, not knowing the exact number. JOHN SOUTHER.
Attest, J. ROHDE, Capt. R. Navy and Harbour Master.
The foregoing Deposition of Capt. John Souther having been read before John Peabody, Jun. Mate of the Schooner Coquette, John Reynolds, and Henry Sterling, Seamen, and they being duly sword, declare the same to be true. JOHN PEABODY, Jun. JOHN REYNOLDS. HENRY STERLING.
'Attest, J. ROHDE, Capt. R. Navy and Harbour Master. FRANCIS H. GREGORY, Lt. Com. U. S. Navy.
(3.)-Lieutenant Gregory to the Secretary of the Navy. United States Schooner Grampus. I HAVE the honour to inform you that this Vessel, accompanied by the Palmyra alias Pancheta, was safely anchored in this Port on the 12th, after a passage of 15 days from St. Thomas. The Palmyra was captured on the 16th of August to the Southward of St. Croix, by the Grampus, after a short action, in which she was the principal sufferer, as detailed in my Reports to Captain James Biddle, Commander of
The United States' Naval Forces cruising in the West Indies. Copies of which have, for your information, already been forwarded to the Department.
It was my wish and intention to have entered a more northern Port, but light and adverse winds, and the great number of Prisoners on board, obliged me to make the nearest Port, and that as soon as possible. The Prisoners, 76 in number, have been safely lodged in jail, committed for Piracy. At leat one-third of them are of the Sugar Key gang, who have come to Porto Rico for the purpose of covering their villiany with Spanish Commissions. All the original Documents respecting this Vessel have been placed in the hands of The United States District Attorney, and the Vessel libelled. Several of her own Crew have turned informants, and I expect a great scene of villainy will be exposed.
I frequently saw Gentlemen from Porto Rico while at St. Thomas's, and was informed that several small Privateers were fitted out there, which if not looked after in time, will certainly commit some very serious depredations upon our commerce, as they are, in reality, nothing but Pirates; most of their Crew being from the establishments of Cuba. and to their thirst for plunder add a deadly desire of revenge whenever they fall in with a defenceless American. The Hon. Smith Thompson.
FRANCIS H. GREGORY.
[(4).-Lieutenant Ramage to the Secretary of the Navy.
HAVING sailed from St. Bartholomew's on the evening of the 6th instant, I fell in, the next morning, with 2 Brigs of War, bearing the Mexican Flag. I run down, with our Colours flying, between them; and, when opposite to each, received a gun from the one to windward, which was instantly returned from this Vessel: shortly after I received a similar salute from that to leeward, which was promptly replied to— both Vessels, on firing, hauled down the Mexican, and hoisted the Spanish National Colours. I then ranged alongside the Brig to leeward, observing her Crew in a state of extreme confusion; they opened an irregular and ill directed fire of grape and musketry, but without any effect. I was in the act of giving orders to return our broadside, when hostilities ceased; and I directed Lieut. Curtis to board the Brig, and examine her Papers; they proved to be His Catholick Majesty's Brigs Palmyra, of 14 guns, 130 Men, and G. Boves, of 8 guns and 100 Men, both from Cadiz. The inclosed is a literal copy of a Letter addressed me by the senior Commanding Officer.
I now hasten to communicate the intelligence received by me at his Place, which I believe to be entirely authentick, that several spanish Privateers of considerable force, have lately been equipped