Mr. McMath to Mr. Seward

No. 9.]

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your circular letter dated the 9th of March last; also copy of “concurrent resolutions of Congress concerning foreign intervention in the existing rebellion,” accompanying the same, which came to hand on the 10th instant.

I have taken the earliest opportunity to have an interview with the Moorish minister for foreign affairs upon the subject of foreign intervention, as set forth in the resolutions of Congress.

He informed my interpreter that he would receive me at his official residence on the 11th instant, at 12 m. At the appointed hour I called, and was very kindly received; and having my interpreter with me, I caused him to read to his excellency, in the Arabic language, the resolutions of Congress. After the reading and some verbal explanations by me, he stated (what he has frequently said to me before) that his Majesty’s government had for a great many years been the sincere friend of the American nation, (the name by which the United States is called by the Moors;) that his Majesty regretted much the state of affairs in my country, but confidently hoped that in a short time we should be able to subdue the insurgents; that his feelings have been all the while with the federal government, and that he would do nothing in the least to aid or give countenance to the insurgents. He also informed me that the policy of the nation, as embodied in the resolutions of Congress just read, had ever been the policy of his Majesty’s government; and in the event of a rebellion in this empire, his Majesty would expect that our government, as well as others, would not in any way encourage the insurgents.

* * * * * * * *

I also explained to him “that the resolutions were entirely in harmony with the principles and policy by which all the President’s proceedings in regard to the question involved have been and will continue in every emergency to be regulated.”

I also informed him that if he desired a copy of the resolutions in the Arabic tongue, I would furnish it. He replied that he did not, as the policy of my government and of his Majesty’s government was the same, and was clearly understood by his Majesty and his ministers, and which policy would not be changed, as it was traditional and sanctified as the policy of the Sultans of this empire for many generations past.

I reassured him of the unfaltering purpose of the United States government to crush the rebellion at all hazards and at any cost, and stated its purpose to adopt whatever measures may be found necessary to accomplish that object. He replied that he hoped for a speedy termination of the rebellion, and had no doubt of the ability and strength of our government to conquer the insurgents.

[Page 1221]

Here our interview ended. I may have gone too much into detail, but I wish to show you the feelings of this government.

Your circular letter No. 32, dated the 8th of February last, in duplicate, was also received on the 10th instant.

As there are no newspapers printed in this empire, I find it difficult to bring to public notice any information the department may wish to make known here. However, I will adopt the usual mode, by causing a synopsis of the facts contained in the circular to be written in Spanish and posted in the market place.

I herewith enclose an article from the “Gibraltar Chronicle.” I am advised, on reliable authority from Casablanca, that no danger is to be apprehended from the Moors to the lives and property of Christians in that town.

The simple fact is, the Medioona tribe have refused to pay their annual tribute to the Sultan. He ordered his general to coerce them. They live outside the walls of the town, and are defying his authority. Hence the wool trade of the interior is diverted from that port to the port of Mozagow, about twenty miles further south; and the English merchants of Casablanca (wool dealers) seeing their “craft in danger,” of course must interpose between the Sultan and his subjects. Up to the date of the letter referred to no one had been killed. “The field of battle must have presented a singular appearance,” indeed. I make the above statements because it is probable the English press may enlarge upon what is presented, to show how powerful the English nation is in Morocco.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c.

[From the Gibraltar Chronicle.]

We have been favored with the perusal of a very interesting private letter from Dar-el-Baida (Casablanca) of the 2d April, which enables us to lay before our readers a more circumstantial account than we gave the other day of the events that are taking place in the vicinity of that town, and occasioning much anxiety to its European inhabitants.

In the hostilities that have been for some time carried on between the tribes, there are ranged on one side the three tribes of Zeeyda, Tenata, and Wolidzian, and on the other the tribe Medioona. The three first-named tribes are under the orders of Benniasheesh. One account says that the cause of hostilities was the refusal of the Medioona tribe to pay the heavy contribution imposed on them by the Sultan. Whether this was so, or whether the fighting originated in a private quarrel amongst the tribes, it is certain that now the Medioonese are treated as enemies in revolt against the Sultan’s authority, and the three tribes fighting against them have the Sultan’s warrant for their act, his officer, Boabeeb Sherghee, who was sent down to arrange the matter, being in the camp and acting in concert with the united tribes under Benniasheesh. To understand the position of the inhabitants of Dar-el-Baida, it must be mentioned that the Medioona tribe, being in the immediate vicinity of the town, has furnished the chief portion of its Moorish inhabitants. The sympathies of these are naturally strongly excited in behalf of their tribe, which has been maintaining a contest against odds, and has been driven under the very walls of the town. On the 28th of March a contest took place just outside the walls. The movements on both sides could be seen from the flat-roofed houses. About twelve hundred were [Page 1222] engaged on this occasion, and the Medioona tribe succeeded in driving off their assailants. On the 30th the inhabitants of Dar-el-Baida were again alarmed by seeing all the neighboring hills covered with horsemen, clustered as thick as bees. The poor Medioonese were given up as lost, as it seemed impossible they could resist the host mustered against them. The attack was made with great fury. The excitement in the town was at the highest pitch. The native inhabitants, from the cause we have mentioned, are all sympathizers with the Medioonese; and men and women crowded the walls, cheering on their tribe and waiving handkerchiefs and rags. The field of battle must have presented a singular appearance. The wives of the persecuted tribe followed their husbands up to the enemy, with their babies slung over their backs, and beating tomtoms to keep the warlike fury of their husbands at the proper point of excitement. The belief that the Medioonese must be overpowered became so general that their friends inside got pickaxes, and were preparing to make a hole in the wall on the side where the battle raged, in order to let in the fugitives one by one, without the danger of their pursuers following and taking the town by a rush. The prospect of having two thousand or three thousand wild Arabs in the town, even if their pursuers were kept out and the fight was not renewed in the streets, degenerating into indiscriminate plunder and bloodshed, was sufficiently alarming; but fortunately the repeated cavalry charges were successfully resisted, and the day ended by the assailants retreating to the hills. As each succeeding attack seemed to press the Medioonese more severely, and the danger to the town was only averted for the time, but not removed, the British vice-consul, Mr. Wooldridge, volunteered to seek an interview with the Sultan’s officer, Boabeeb, and urge him to postpone all further proceedings against the offending tribe until the result of a representation to the Sultan should be known. A letter was accordingly despatched to Boabeeb, appointing a place of meeting at a small river between the two hostile camps; and on the 31st, at six in the morning, the vice-consul proceeded to the spot, under an escort of four soldiers provided by the kaid. The conference was a hurried one, and not unattended by danger, for when Boabeeb, with thirty cavalry, was seen descending to the place of meeting, the Medioonese, construing the movement into a hostile one, sent out a body of cavalry to meet him. Boabeeb therefore halted at some distance from the place of meeting, and despatched a soldier to inquire the object of the party which had followed the vice-consul. The Medioona cavalry consented to retire out of range; but the hostile Arabs remained still in sight of each other, and Haggi Boabeeb expressed his fears that unless the conference was a short one he should not be able to restrain the Wolidzian from coming on. On the return of the British vice-consul to the town, the representatives of the other European powers hastened to learn the result of the interview. It was understood that Boabeeb had declined at first to grant any delay in executing the orders of the Sultan to chastise the Medioona. But upon its being urged upon him that he was not authorized, in the execution of those orders, to endanger the safety of one of the Sultan’s towns, and the lives and property of the Christians and Europeans in it, thereby embroiling his master with foreign governments, and that he should delay operations till further orders from the Sultan, Boabeeb said he would take time to consider and consult with Benniasheesh, and send in the reply in the afternoon. The reply was duly received and made known to the Europeans in Dar-el-Baida. It was from Benniasheesh, whose authority appears to be superior to that of Boabeeb. The spirit of the reply, as might be expected, reflects the savage cruelty of Mahommedan despotism; but in point of form it is a favorable specimen of a clear, terse, official style, and we therefore insert a copy of it: “The Sultan has given me orders to slay, chase, exterminate, and [Page 1223] eat up the Medioonese, and I will slay, chase, exterminate, and eat up the Medioonese until none remain, no matter what are the consequences. I will not stop until I receive counter orders from the Sultan.” Up to the 4th of April no further attack had been made, but it was asserted that Benniasheesh was collecting his forces for another fight. A formal protest by the consuls had been sent to him, and his reply had been received. He had offered to suspend hostilities on certain conditions, which the consuls could not accept. In the mean time representations have been made to Sir John Hay, who is now at Morocco transacting business with the Sultan, and his intervention will no doubt lead to the requisite orders being sent to respect the safety of Dar-el-Baida. Practically the same object has been already attained by the presence of her Majesty’s steam-sloop Trident, and probably other vessels-of-war, from which men would be landed, in case of necessity, to man the walls and keep out the barbarous tribes.