Mr. F. W. Seward to Mr. Adams.

No. 794.]

Sir: Referring to instruction No. 791, of the 26th instant, I enclose a copy of a despatch of the 12th instant, No. 70, from the consul at Cork, in regard to the alleged violation of the foreign enlistment act of Great Britain in the case of the Kearsarge, and which was received subsequent to the writing of No. 791.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

F.W.SEWARD, Acting Secretary.

Charles Francis Adams, Esq.


No. 70.]

SIR: I have the honor to inform you that on the 7th instant the United States steamer Kearsarge called off this harbor and sent ashore sixteen men in a pilot-boat, with a note to me. I returned on board the Kearsarge in the pilot-boat, saw the captain, and from him I obtained a statement, a copy of which I enclose. These men, it seems, stowed themselves away on board the Kearsarge, while in this port, in hopes to be shipped when at sea, instead of which the captain took them to Brest, sent them ashore, and then retook them on board and enlisted them in the service, of the United States for the term of three years, as I understand.

It seems then he feared he had done wrong, and, afraid of trouble, when he got up steam, came across here, and put these men ashore, with scarcely any explanations.

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


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

I certify that the United States steamer Kearsarge arrived in Queenstown on the night of the 2d of November, 1863, and that on the following day I left the ship for Cork. On my return to Queenstown, accompanied by the American consul, I called upon the admiral in command, and in course of conversation reference was made to a paragraph in the papers that the Kearsarge had come in for the purpose of enlisting men, when I informed the admiral that I had received notice from the executive officer of the Kearsarge that many persons had applied to be shipped, and in response I had directed him to notify all persons that no enlistments would be made, and instructions were given in accordance. On the night of the 5th of November, 1863, while blowing heavy, with thick rainy weather, the Kearsarge went to sea. On the following day report was made to me that several men had been discovered on board, and investigation showed that they had concealed themselves in the ship during the thick [Page 372] and rainy weather of the day or night previous, and, disguised in this way, proceeded in the ship, hoping to be enlisted in the service of the United States after she got to sea. The Kearsarge was on important duty, watching the Florida at Brest, and it was therefore impracticable to return the men to Queens-town immediately. I directed the men to be held at Brest, in apprehension, if they were turned ashore, they would join the Florida, resolving as soon as the Kearsarge left Brest again to put them ashore at Cork. The Kearsarge left Brest again on the 5th of December, 1863, and, in accordance with my resolution, I have this day sent sixteen men ashore in the pilot-boat Petrel, with a list of their names as given to the American consul.



Sir: I beg leave to state, in accordance with your request, that on or about the 3d of November, 1863, several men from Queenstown came on board of this ship as applicants for enlistment in the naval service of the United States. In the absence of yourself and of any definite instructions in regard to such applications I told the men that if they were physically qualified for enlistment they might remain on board until your return, when you would decide. Upon your return your instructions were not to enlist them; they were accordingly sent out of the ship.

Many applications of a similar nature were made, but their enlistment was in every case refused, in accordance with your instructions. During the time we were at anchor the ship was surrounded by boats filled with men desiring to enlist. Orders were given and executed not to allow them alongside. On the evening of the 5th this was the case until after dark, and until the ship was underway. The ship went to sea on the evening of the 5th of November. It was storming and blowing hard. In accordance with the usual custom of the ship and with the necessities of the case, (as I thought, ) before tripping the anchor, all strangers were ordered out of the ship. The master-at-arms, with the ship’s corporal, and others of the police force, executed the order, finding men stowed away in the hold, in the carpenter’s locker and elsewhere. These men were put out of the ship, in some cases by force. As soon as the ship was reported cleared, the anchor was tripped, and the ship went to sea. On the next day several men were discovered who were strangers in the ship. These men, probably with the connivance of the crew, had been so securely concealed as to elude the vigilance of the police force. Upon receiving this information you decided to land these men at Brest, whither you were bound. The men were sent out of the ship at Brest, in accordance with this determination, but pleading destitution they returned, and were permitted to remain on board till this morning, when they were landed at Queenstown by the pilot-boat Petrel.

I would add that the names of these men upon their return to the ship while in Brest harbor were placed upon the ship’s books for the purpose of their support and comfort, they being otherwise utterly destitute.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JAMES S. THORNTON, Lieut. Com’der U. S. N. and Executive Officer.

Captain John A. Winslow.