Mr. De Long to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I was disappointed in my expectation in regard to the arrival of the Tuscarora on the 26th instant, as I had addressed a despatch to her commander on the 20th, copy of which is herewith enclosed. On the 23d the military secretary of the governor of Gibraltar arrived here by an express courier. I accidentally met him, and from his demeanor towards me I suspected that there was some plot on hand. Shortly after this my suspicions were fully realized, as I learned that the secretary was the bearer of a letter from the captain of the Sumter to the Moorish minister for foreign affairs, demanding a release of the prisoners in my custody, and there seemed to be an unusual movement among the people. On the next day I sent my second despatch to the commander of the Tuscarora, a copy of which is herewith enclosed, with his reply. On the evening of the 25th, about 6 o’clock, I received a despatch from the Moorish minister, a copy of which, with my reply thereto, is herewith enclosed, in which he demanded a surrender of the prisoners.
My reply was conveyed to the minister at 8 o’clock of the 26th, which was read and explained to him by my interpreter, who was informed by the minister that there would be no impediment offered to my removing the prisoners. By the time my interpreter had arrived at the consulate, the United States ship-of-war Ino had anchored in the bay. Leaving off all formalities, her commander with three of his junior officers came on shore, and thence proceeded to the American consulate. The commander, accompanied by my interpreter and myself, proceeded to the residence of the Moorish minister to pay our respects to him, and to make arrangements for firing a salute, and about the embarcation of the prisoners. Our interview took place at 11 o’clock a.m., and in which it was repeated that there would be no objections made to their removal on board of the Ino.
After exchanging a salute of 21 guns, which took place at 1 o’clock p. m., I consulted with the commander of the Ino about the manner of conveying the prisoners on board, and we came to the conclusion, to prevent any demonstration that might be made on the conveyance of the prisoners to the beach, that it would be advisable to order thirty marines to come on shore, fully armed, to accompany the prisoners. Prior to the arrival of our men on shore I discovered that there was a plot going on, formed out of European subjects residing in Tangier, to prevent the embarcation of the prisoners, and to take them out of our hands at the time of conveying them to the beach. Although I had [Page 861]not at first much confidence in the report, bearing in mind the strict neutrality of European nations in relation to our civil war, nevertheless, by the time the marines had landed on the beach, the gates of the port were closed, and an armed mob of between three and four hundred Europeans, residing here under the protection of foreign representatives at this place, had assembled at the American consulate. On hearing a noise in the street leading to the consulate, the commander of the Ino, his purser, surgeon, and Mr. Train, master’s mate, and myself, went into the street. I enquired of one of the mob, who could speak English, what they wanted, he replied that they were determined to have the prisoners in my custody released. We immediately made a rush at them and drove them out of the street. We then returned into the consulate and closed the doors. The mob then returned and tried to break into the consulate. I immediately sent a note to my interpreter to inform the Moorish minister of what was going on, and to demand of him soldiers to suppress the mob. Fortunately, before my interpreter got my note, he had gone to the minister and informed him in relation to the mob; then the minister sent a message to the foreign representatives to withdraw their subjects, and he also sent troops to protect the United States consulate and to disperse the mob; all of which was attended to promptly.
The commander of the Ino, accompanied by three of his junior officers, my interpreter and myself, then proceeded to the residence of the minister at about 3 o’clock p.m., and after a few preliminary remarks I gave the minister to understand the ultimatum of what I required, and nothing short of which would I accept, which was in the following words:
1st. That the gates of the port should be opened.
2d. That the marines be permitted to march uninterrupted to the American consulate.
3d. That he furnish a sufficient number of troops to keep down the mob and to accompany the prisoners to the beach.
4th. All of which must be complied with, within one hour, or I would strike the American flag and quit the country.
The minister replied, no, no, your request shall be acceded to, but I desire you to hold over until to-morrow, when all will be quiet; I replied that I would consent to no delay, for the reason that it would only give the mob an opportunity to make further preparations.
This closed the interview and we returned to the consulate, and in less than one hour the gates of the port were opened, the marines marched to the consulate, the Moorish troops were on hand, and the prisoners were then brought out, and we marched down to the beach in the presence of at least three thousand spectators, without the least interruption, and they were placed on board of the Ino, which sailed last night. I must add that the commander of the Ino, his junior officers and marines, all acted their part bravely to sustain the honor of the American flag.
I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,
Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State.