Mr. Harvey to Mr. Seward.
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.