Mr. Harvey to Mr. Seward.

No. 175.]

Sir: The correspondence (in copy, marked R and S) herewith communicated needs no particular explanation. It was necessary to shape my action promptly upon the information received, and I have endeavored to exert as much energy and efficiency as indifferent and cramped means allowed. The disability of the Kearsarge is most unfortunate now, as it was at the Azores.

When that vessel was sent to those islands, with the Tuscarora and St. Louis, I did not anticipate the return of the three so suddenly, as will be seen from the following extract of a general letter of suggestion, addressed to Captain Pickering, the senior officer, on the 30th of September, which was delivered to him by the commander of the St. Louis.

“It will be necessary, in any event, to retain one of the two steamers at the Azores for a time. The insurgents have already used those islands, in defiance of the Portuguese authorities, who are comparatively powerless, as a rendezvous for coaling, recruiting, and the transfer of munitions of war from vessels abusing the British flag to steamers in the service of the so-called confederates. And I am credibly informed that a plan has been contrived to establish a coal station at one of the islands, making it the entrepot of a regular contraband commerce, inimical to the interests of the United States, and in flagrant violation of the proclamation of the King of Portugal, of July 29, 1861, of which I enclose you a translated copy.”

The expectation thus foreshadowed, as a result of reflection only, has been liberally verified by recent information from London, already communicated to the department with my No. 173. If the naval officers had received the impression which the circumstances and situation had forced upon my mind, [Page 1293] one of the steamers would have remained at or near the Azores, and thus have saved the necessity of returning there. They doubtless, however, acted under their best convictions of duty.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Mr. Harvey to Mr. Pickering.

Sir: I have received your report of the cruise to the Azores, and communicated a copy of it to the Department of State for information.

The machinery of the Kearsarge appears to be imperfect and unfit for the service which she has been and may be required to perform, if the reports that have reached me from various sources are correct. Deferring to your superior knowledge in such matters, I would venture to suggest whether it would not be better to have the defects at once thoroughly examined and restored wherever the repairs can be done most speedily and completely, than to rely upon a temporary remedy, with the hazard of a recurrence or disability. I am informed that such work cannot be executed promptly or reliably at Cadiz, and therefore, if you concur in these views, it might be well to proceed to the best French port for that purpose.

A note from Commander Mann has just reached me from Fayal. He proposes cruising towards Gibraltar and going to Cadiz. With the Kearsarge, Release, and Chippewa in that vicinity, I can see no object to be served by his presence there, which might at least be morally useful here, as a fleet of merchantmen with cereals is soon expected.

The Alabama destroyed one of this fleet, together with other ships, near Newfoundland, about the 9th of October. Of course she will not remain there to be captured, and I am prepared to hear that she has recrossed the Atlantic to intercept the merchantmen coming to Lisbon and other ports. Hence we should have a ship-of-war here and hereabouts.

The Tuscarora will start to-day for the Azores, and thence towards the Great Banks, hoping to encounter the pirate, and afterwards return to these waters.

I am, respectfully,


Captain C. W. Pickering, United States Steamer Kearsarge, Cadiz.

Mr. Harvey to Captain Pickering.


Sir: Since writing you yesterday I have heard, through our legation at London, that the Bahama was to go again to the Azores with men and munitions for Semmes, and that despatches had been sent to him there by a Turkish steamer.

[Page 1294]

This information authorizes the belief that he is soon to return there, and probably is already on his way back.

Not being certain whether you were still at Algeciras or had gone to Cadiz, I sent the substance of this information to Mr. Sprague, at Gibraltar, with a request that he should telegraph it to you immediately, and that the Kearsarge or Chippewa should proceed forthwith to the Azores to intercept the Tuscarora (which left here yesterday) with it, and to co-operate in the capture of the pirates.

I fear the disability of the Kearsarge will prevent her from going, but I hope the Chippewa will be able to start promptly. You will know whether watch over the Sumter is still really required, and of course will regulate the movements of the St. Louis, referred to in my note yesterday, with such a view to the protection of all interests as may appear most prudent and proper under the changed circumstances.

I am, respectfully,


Captain C. W. Pickering, United States Steamer Kearsarge, Cadiz.