Mr. Sanford to Mr. Seward

No. 88.]

Sir: I have had the honor to receive your despatches to No. 77 inclusive.

The impression caused by the President’s message here, and, so far as my observation extends, elsewhere, is excellent. Notwithstanding the enmity and [Page 1167] even the malignity which prevails in many quarters, against the cause of the Union, I have not seen an attempt at a reply to it; it has done much to disarm our opponents and strengthen the hands of our friends abroad. The reports of the Secretaries, as showing the immense power and resources of our country, especially in the creation of a large and effective navy, have made a deep impression, and I am struck with the tone of apprehension, now, of those hitherto disposed to sneer at the “fall of the great republic,” lest we become a war power of the first order, likely to impose our principles and policy upon European powers.

I think intervention is falling into disrepute with these evidences of power and the success of our arms. Still, the general sentiment, I regret to say, is, that the restoration of the Union is impossible, and there are among our friends those who counsel the acceptance of separation rather than continue a struggle which they fear may lead to exhaustion, and perhaps further secession.

My great anxiety for the moment is for the capture of Charleston and Mobile, which I cannot but believe will have more influence upon the result of the war than the taking of Richmond. A very large number of steamers have, within the past two months or so, left Europe loaded with indispensable supplies for the south, the intention, I believe, being to make a combined effort to run the blockade. The failure of these expeditions would be equal to a great victory in the field, and with the taking of Charleston and Mobile they must fail. In this connexion I beg leave to suggest, based upon some facts which have lately come to my knowledge, that the pilots of vessels captured when seeking to run the blockade, and who are generally from Charleston or neighboring ports, be held in close custody instead of released with the other sailors. The success of these blockade breakers depends greatly upon the pilots, who, so soon as released, make their way back to Nassau or Bermuda to make new and lucrative engagements with other vessels.

Our commerce here suffers greatly from the ravages of the “Alabama.” Several of our ships at Antwerp have been sold to go under other flags, and under the influence of war risks on American vessels they cannot compete with other flags in foreign trade. I hear, through a source entitled to credit, that two other vessels have lately left British ports with the view of carrying on the same piratical enterprises which are not alone ruinous to our commerce, but are giving an immense stimulus to English shipping, which profits greatly by the disadvantages thus caused to our vessels. To this may be ascribed in part the active sympathy with these criminal enterprises shown by very many among the commercial classes of England.

* * * * *

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.