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

No. 792.]

Sir: I transmit herewith a copy of a letter of the 16th instant, and of the documents which accompanied it, from Elisha H. Ryder, esq., of Boston, relative to the claim of the owners of the bark Sea Bride, of that city, against the British government.

I also transmit a copy of a letter of the 17th instant from Messrs. Rufus Greene & Co., of Providence, Rhode Island, and of the papers therein referred to, setting forth their claim on account of the capture, seizure, and loss of the cargo of the same vessel.

It is affirmed, in the accompanying depositions, that the Sea Bride was captured within the maritime jurisdiction of Great Britain, in Table bay, at the Cape of Good Hope, by the piratical vessel Alabama, and it is presumed that if this be not disproved, her Britannic Majesty’s government will not hesitate to accord that full reparation for all the losses occurring to citizens of the United States, from this lawless proceeding, which is justly due to them. But even if the capture had not been made within the jurisdiction of Great Britain, it is nevertheless claimed by the United States, as set forth in the instructions addressed to you on the 6th of October last, No. 730, that her Majesty’s government is bound to indemnify the parties in question.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

F. W. SEWARD, Acting Secretary.

Charles Francis Adams, Esq., &c., &c., &c.


Sir: Accompanying this we forward, for the attention of the department, documental evidence of the capture, seizure, and loss of the cargo of the bark Sea Bride, of Boston, an act we believe to have been committed within neutral limits of the waters at Table bay, to wit, within three miles of land, and our loss and damage we believe the government of Great Britain to be liable and responsible for, by their authorities at the Cape disregarding the protest of the master and mate and officers of said vessel, and also of the American consul, against the illegal seizure of said vessel and cargo.

We (shippers of the cargo) therefore beg the attention of the department, and pray that the facts set forth and sworn to in the papers, with our demand and claim for loss and damage sustained in consequence thereof, may, be made on the government of Great Britain through the proper department of the American government.

All of which is respectfully submitted by your obedient servants,

RUFUS GREENE & CO. Providence, Rhode Island.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.


United States of America, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suffolk, ss:

Be it known to all whom it doth or may concern, that on this 15th day of December, A. D. 1863, before me, George Howland Folger, a notary public, july commissioned and sworn, in and for the county aforesaid, personally appeared Rufus Greene, of the city of Providence, in the State of Rhode [Page 374] Island, one of the partners, and representing the mercantile house or firm of Rufus Greene & Co., transacting and having their place of business, in providence aforesaid, the said mercantile firm consisting of Rufus Greene, Win. S. Arnold and Benjamin R. Arnold, copartners, who did on oath declare that the said firm did ship from the port of New York, on board of the bark Sea Bride, belonging to the port of Boston, and commanded by Charles E. White, and bound to Cape Town and Zanzibar, a cargo of assorted merchandise of the value of $36,945 12, as will be seen by the invoice, a certified copy of which is hereunto annexed, marked A; that the said bark proceeded on the voyage aforesaid, having sailed from New York on the 28th day of May last past, meeting with no particular occurrence until noon of the third day of August, when they sighted Table mountain, and made for Table bay, but on the night of the 4th day of said month, on account of the darkness, it was deemed advisable for the vessel to keep off for the night. On the morning of the 5th they again stood in for the land. At about 2 p. m. they saw a steamer coming towards them, which they supposed to be the English mail steamer, but they soon found her to be the confederate steamer Alabama. A gun was fired from the steamer, and a demand made for the Sea Bride to heave to, which not being complied with, another gun was fired, and the commander of the steamer threatened to shoot the crew of the Sea Bride if they refused. The bark then hove to, and two boats were then lowered from the steamer and sent on board the bark. The officer in charge of the boats, on his arrival on board the bark, directed one of his crew to haul down the flag, and ordered the captain of the bark to take his papers on board the Alabama, which was done at about a quarter before 3 p. m., when the position of the bark within Table bay was as follows: Green Point light-house bearing south by east, Robin Island lighthouse bearing northeast, the bark being at the time of her capture in neutral waters, or, according to bearings, within three miles of the land, when she was seized, captured and taken possession of, in the port of a friendly power, where she was bound, one of the colonies of the kingdom of Great Britain, by the piratical confederate steamer Alabama aforesaid, as will be seen by reference to the protest of the master, made before the United States consul at Cape Town, a certified copy of which is hereunto annexed, marked B; that by this seizure this appearer, and those whom he represents, have suffered injury and loss to the amount of $45,445 12, as follows: by the seizure of the cargo aforementioned, of the invoice value of $36,945 12, and a further loss in consequence of the non-arrival of the cargo at its ports of destination, of the sum of $8,500, making the aforesaid sum of $45,445 12.

And now, the said Rufus Greene, in behalf of himself and the other members of his mercantile firm, whom he represents, prefers a claim against the government of the kingdom of Great Britain, holding them responsible for all losses and expenses arising from the seizure of the cargo aforesaid; this appearer and those he represents holding themselves ready to furnish any additional proof desired in the premises, and the said appearer believes and claims that, according to the law of nations and in equity, the government of the kingdom of Great Britain is bound to indemnify and hold them harmless for all losses, together with interest and expenses in consequence of the seizure herein set forth.


In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and notarial seal, at Boston, the year and day above written; and the said Rufus Greene hath affixed his name, having solemnly sworn to the truth of the foregoing declaration.[seal.]

{Revenue stamp.}

GEORGE H. FOLGER, Notary Public, Justice of the Peace.
[Page 375]


Her Britannic Majesty’s Consulate, States of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

I, Francis Lousada, her Britannic Majesty’s consul for the States of Massa chusetts and Rhode Island, do hereby certify that George H. Folger, esq., of Boston, is a notary public for the county of Suffolk, Massachusetts, duly qualified, and that to his acts and attestations as such full credit and faith is due and must be given. And I further certify that the within annexed is his genuine signature and notarial seal.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal of office, at Boston, this 16th day of December, in the year of our Lord 1863.[seal.]

F. LOUSADA, Her Britannic Majesty’s Consul for Massachusetts and Rhode Island.


Invoice of cargo laden on board baric Sea Bride, White, master, bound to Cape Town and Zanzibar. Henry Spaulding, supercargo, on board.

[Page 376]
200 barrels flour, Mt. Vernon, for Zanzibar, at $9 $1,800 00
100 barrels flour, La Favorita and Oscawania, at $7 50 7,500 00
95 boxes N. cheese, 1,034 pounds, at 16 cents 163 84
35 boxes E. D. cheese, 705 pounds, at 15 cents 105 75
346 boxes candles, adamantine, 20 pounds each, at 20 cents. 1,384 00
500 boxes extra family soap, 16 pounds each, at $1 20 600 00
28 bales hops, 5,833 pounds, at 22 cents 1,283 26
10 tierces smoked hams, 2,899 pounds, at 12 cents 347 88
50 barrels prime pork, at $12 600 00
50 barrels excelsior beef, at $13 50 675 00
2 cases, 120 pairs, men’s split brogans, at $1 25 150 00
1 case, 60 pairs, men’s goat brogans, at $1 40 84 00
2 cases, No. 1, 24, 300 pounds beams, at $3 each 72 00
2 cases, No. 2, 18, beams 81 00
2 bundles frames for do 12 00
2 bottoms frames for do 13 00
2 cases, 50 beams and weights 93 75
2 cases, platform scales, 2 28 90
100 kegs white lead, 25 pounds each, 2,500 pounds, at 8 cents. 200 00
4 cases glass beads, 1,440 bunches, at 21 cents 302 40
4 iron barrels caustic soda, 2,399 pounds 175 13
1 case, 8 reams paper, order 121 75
48 boxes and 2 packages, 297 clocks 1,078 75
2 casks composition nails, 200 pounds, order, at 29 cents 58 00
1 case, 115 sheets yellow metal, 615 pounds, at 29 cents 178 35
1 silver hunting watch, order 15 00
1 gold hunting watch, order 58 00
1 barrel, containing lamp fixtures and oil, order 19 50
1 box, 30 gallons coal-oil, order 13 00
1 case, 2 lamps, fixtures, &c., order 19 50
1 package, 3 dozen knives, order 24 50
27 boxes crackers, assorted, 8,000 pounds 1,102 17
2 walking-canes, order 15 00
31 half boxes tobacco, H. Buckles & Co., 2,493 pounds, at 55 cents 1,371 15
100¾ half boxes tobacco, our own, 11,715 pounds, at 40 cents. 4,686 00
75¾ half boxes tobacco, Fairmount, 9,013 pounds, at 35 cents. 3,154 55
26 cases tobacco, excelsior, 4,063 pounds, at 45 cents 1,828 35
41 M hogshead staves, at $80 per M 3,280 00
10 M hogshead heading, at $80 per M 800 00
1 case brushes 60 25
1 case stationery, order 29 25
2 down triers 1 50
33,586 48
10 per cent, advance 3,358 64
36,945 12

Invoice of cargo for Sea Bride, Charles F. White, master, consigned; Henry Spaulding, supercargo on board, to proceed to Cape Town; transact the business according to memorandum, using despatch for the vessel, and consigning all proceeds of sales and advances, with remainder of cargo, to Wm. E. Hines, the shipper agent at Zanzibar.


New York, May 27, 1863.

United States of America, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suffolk, ss:

Before me, George H. Folger, a notary public, commissioned and sworn, in and for the county aforesaid, personally appeared Rufus Greene, of the mercantile house of Rufus Greene & Co., of the city of Providence, in the State of Rhode Island, and made solemn oath that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of an invoice of cargo shipped by their firm on board the bark Sea Bride, which vessel was seized and captured by the confederate steamer Alabama, in Table bay, Cape of Good Hope, one of the colonies of the kingdom of Great Britain; that the said firm lost thereby the property above set forth, and that they were worth to said firm, at the time of the capture, a sum exceeding the amount stated in the invoice.


In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and notarial seal, at Boston, this 15th day of December, A. D. 1863; and the said Rufus Greene has also affixed his name, having solemnly sworn to the truth of the foregoing declaration.[seal.]

{Revenue stamp.}

GEORGE H. FOLGER, Notary Public and Justice of the Peace.


Port of Cape Town.

On this 6th day of August, in the year of our Lord 1863, before me, Walter Graham, consul of the United States of America for Cape Town and the dependencies thereof, personally appeared Charles F. White, master of the bark Sea Bride, of Boston, of the burden of 4472/95 tons or thereabouts, and declared that on the 2d day of May he sailed in and with the said ship from the port of New York [Page 377] with general cargo, and arrived off Table bay on the evening of the 4th instant, and having been captured so close to the shore by the confederate steamer Alabama, hereby enters this note of protest against said capture as illegal, reserving his right to extend said protest at time and place convenient, if found necessary.



WALTER GRAHAM, United States Consul.

And be it further made known, that on this 7th day of August aforesaid, together with the above-named Charles F. White, master, also came John Schofield, chief mate, and Richard White, 2d mate, of and belonging to said bark, who declared, on oath, that on the 28th day of May last past, in their capacity aforesaid, they sailed in and with the said bark from the port of New York, laden with general cargo, and bound to the port of Table bay; that they proceeded on their voyage without any particular occurrence until noon of the 3d instant, when they sighted Table mountain and made for Table bay, but on the night of the 4th instant, on account of the darkness, they deemed it advisable to keep off for the night, but on the morning of the 5th they stood in for the land. At about 2 p. m. they saw a steamer coming towards them, which they considered to be the English mail steamer, but they soon found her to be the confederate steamer Alabama. A gun was fired and a demand was made to heave to, which as they, the said appearers, did not comply with, another gun was fired, and the commander of said steamer threatened to shoot them if they refused. The bark was then hove to. Two boats were lowered from the steamer and sent on board the boat, when the officer in charge of them ordered one of his crew to haul down the flag, and ordered the captain to take his papers on board the Alabama, which was done at about a quarter before three, when the position of the bark was as follows: Green Point light-house bearing S. by E.; Robben Island light-house bearing NE.

The said appearers did further protest against the said capture as illegal. Said bark was at the time in neutral waters, or, according to bearings, within three miles of the land.

And these appearers did further allege, declare, and say, that they, together with others of the ship’s company, used their best endeavors to bring the said bark into Table bay, but were prevented by said capture.




Thus done and protested before me, Walter Graham, United States consul at Cape Town, this 7th day of August, 1863.

WALTER GRAHAM, United States Consul.

[l. s.]

United States of America, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Suffolk, ss:

I, George H. Folger, a notary public, duly commissioned and sworn, in and for the county aforesaid, do certify the foregoing to be a true and exact copy of the protest of bark Sea Bride, with the signature and seal of the United States consulate at Cape Town, now before me.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and notarial seal, at Boston, this 15th day of December, A. D. 1863.[seal.]

{Revenue stamp.}

GEORGE H. FOLGER, Notary Public.
[Page 378]

[From the Cape Argus.]

The Alabama again in Simon’s bay.—Her doings on her recent cruise.—Sale of the Sea Bride and her cargo.

Here we have the Alabama once more lying at her anchorage, within 300 yards of Grout’s hotel; and within pretty nearly the same distance off Hout bay, just on the other side of the point, we have the federal Vanderbilt, cruising about in search of the famous confederate. So it would appear that if there had not been actual fighting outside, as it was reported there had been, the steamers have been within an ace of coming into collision.

The arrival of the Alabama has created quite a stir throughout the place. It seems as if there was something doing once more. The officers are on shore stretching their legs a bit, and enjoying themselves in various ways; and on board all hands are at work cleaning, painting, and trimming the ship. There have been a hundred stories afloat since the Alabama left, and the Vanderbilt arrived, as to the movements of the ships. And although there was no truth in the rumor of a fight having taken place a day or two ago, nor in a good deal, besides, that has been said about the Alabama, it appears that rumor was pretty well informed on a few points, and especially with regard to the Sea Bride and the Tuscaloosa. With a view of ascertaining the exact state of the facts, I took a run down here on Thursday evening, found Captain Semmes on board his ship, and heard from his own lips an account of what he had done since he left the bay, what has become of his prizes, and what his future movements are likely to be.

It appears that when he left False bay he resolved to spend a few days in looking after federal merchantmen coming from the east, and thinking L’Agulhas bank the most likely place to fall in with them, he took up a position off that point. The Tuscaloosa and Sea Bride had been previously ordered to go to Angra Pequena. The object of sending the Tuscaloosa there was to get the wool taken out of her, and replaced by ballast, and then to send her cruising as before. Captain Semmes had previously had an offer for the Sea Bride, which he resolved to accept. He says that his desire was and is to observe strictly the laws of neutrality, and to do nothing which can possibly give offence to the British authorities. Angra Pequena belongs as much to Captain Semmes as to the British government, or perhaps anybody else, and any transaction there could give no ground of complaint to Governor Wodehouse, Admiral Walker, or the imperial government. A day was fixed for both the Tuscaloosa and the Sea Bride to be at anchor in the harbor of Angra Pequena. Upon that day Captain Semmes took in the Alabama, met the parties who had made him the offer for the Sea Bride, and completed the sale of her. When sold, the Sea Bride was taken away. The wool was then taken out of the Tuscaloosa and landed. The Tuscaloosa was ballasted, went to sea again, and is now cruising not very far off the land. Captain Semmes then returned to his position off L’Agulhas bank, but not a single federal merchantman made her appearance. He boarded, whilst there, sixteen ships, but all were English, with English cargoes. The following is a list of them: August 15, English bark Saxon, Algoa bay to Cape Town. August 17, English ship Broughton Hall, Bombay to Liverpool; medical aid being required on board of her, Assistant Surgeon Llewellyn was sent to render it. August 19, English ship Camperdown, Madras to London. August 20, English bark Dunbar, Natal to London. August 22, overhauled a bark showing Dutch colors. August 23, English ship [Page 379] Sarawak, Bombay to Liverpool. August 24, Dutch bark Maria Elizabeth, Batavia to Amsterdam. August 25, Dutch bark Minister Van Hull, Batavia to Amsterdam. August 28, English schooner Flower of Yarrow, Ichaboe to Cape Town. September 3, English ship Panjaub, Kurrachee to London. September 4, English bark Isle of May, Bombay to Liverpool. September 9, saw a bark showing English colors, English ship Cameronian, Calcutta to London, by signal. September 10, English bark, Calcutta to London. English ship Flora, Manilla to Liverpool. September 12, exchanged colors with an English bark.

The wool taken out of the Tuscaloosa at Angra Pequena is now on its way to a market—where, Captain Semmes did not tell me, and it being no business of mine, so far as I am aware, or of any one else, except himself, I did not think fit to inquire. He does not himself know precisely where the Sea Bride is gone, but he made no secret as to her purchaser.

Captain Semmes further told me, that he was particularly annoyed that certain parties should have endeavored, immediately his back was turned, by means of false statements, to bring him into collision with the naval authorities at Simon’s Town, and the governor of the colony. He says, that so far from having done anything that could possibly give offence, he has studiously avoided every act that could possibly be construed into a breach of the law.

The story told by the person who piloted the Alabama into Saldanha bay, on the occasion of her first visit, is contradicted, both by Captain Semmes and the officers of the ship. The pilot stated that Captain Semmes had agreed to give him £20 to take in the ship, and afterwards refused to pay him more than $3. The truth is, that when Captain Semmes saw the little coasting vessel, commanded by the person who acted as pilot, he sent an officer on board her to ask where Saldanha bay was. The captain of the coaster asked the officer to take him on board the steamer, which the officer consented to do; Nothing was said about pilotage, but when the captain of the coaster got on board the Alabama he began to give such directions as a pilot would have given, and was allowed to take the ship into the bay. When the ship was at anchor Captain Semmes aked him what was his charge for pilotage. That was the first time payment was spoken of. Neither $20 nor any other sum had been promised. The man replied that he did not know. Captain Semmes then asked, what was the charge for pilotage at Table bay or Simon’s bay. The man said he did not know. He was repeatedly asked to name a sum, but declined to do so. Captain Semmes then called an officer who had been the commander of an English ship on the English coast, and asked him what would be the charge for piloting the Alabama into an English port. The officer replied, it would be about £2 5s. Captain Semmes then said to the pilot, “Suppose we say £3.” The man made no reply but went below with an officer, who was to take a receipt for the money. When he got below, the man seemed to take second thought, for he said he would not take so small a sum as £3 ; a federal commander, a little while before, had paid him £20, and he did not see why he should not have £20 now. That sum Captain Semmes declined to pay; but says that if the man had asked for £5, £6, £7, or £8, he would have given it at once, and would never have thought of fixing the amount himself, if the pilot had not declined to do so.

Up to the time that he came into Simon’s bay, Captain Semmes did not know that the Vanderbilt had arrived here. He had been within sight of the land for four days, but saw nothing whatever of her. He thinks the Vanderbilt much too heavy for him, but is by no means alarmed at finding himself so near her. He says he is pretty comfortable where he is, and expects the Kadie round from Table bay with about 200 tons of coal which he intends to take in. If the Vanderbilt should happen to come in while he is here, he will insist upon his right to have twenty-four hours start. If she stops outside, she must keep [Page 380] a proper distance from the headlands of False, bay, and as False bay is sixteen miles across he thinks there will be plenty of room for him to get out, without running foul of the Yankee.

In commenting upon the probable consequences of an encounter with the Vanderbilt, Captain Semmes spoke with much modesty of the power of his own ship. He said that although the machinery of the Vanderbilt would be a good target, in fighting with the steamer it is not easy to escape from having a broadside. He found that to be the case with the Hatteras. Although he disposed of her pretty easily, it was as much as he could do to prevent her from giving him a broadside. The plan he adopted with the Hatteras was to use his large Blakely gun from the stern of his ship, and that gun did the work. The gun is an 85-pounder, and he thinks that his only chance with the Vanderbilt will be to use it upon her machinery. His opinion is, that the Vanderbilt has very much greater speed than the Alabama, and that it will be impossible for him to get away from her. He does not intend to go and look for her, but he says that, if he has to fight her, he will do his best.

He expects to leave False bay about Monday next. He would not have come back to Simon’s bay now, but his condensing apparatus got out of order, a few days after leaving Simon’s bay, and when about four days at sea he found that the condenser did not act properly. It did not take more than one-third of the salt out of the water. Captain Semmes was consequently compelled to put the men upon an allowance. Upon arriving at Angra Pequena he obtained from a person there sixteen casks of water, and that quantity sufficed for the return voyage to Simon’s bay. The repairs of the condenser are nearly completed, and as soon as the coal is on board the Alabama will be ready to take her final departure for the Cape of Good Hope. Captain Semmes says that it is not probable that when once he gets away we shall see his face again for some time to come.

It was rumored in town yesterday that the Hon. Mr. Field, the collector of customs, had received a letter from Saldanha bay, stating that the Vanderbilt eruising just outside the cape had anchored there. On inquiry we found that this was not true. She is still.

[From a Cape Town paper. ]


A very nice and knotty point is now under consideration, whether the Sea Bride is or is not a lawful prize to the Alabama, or whether the confederate has not been guilty of a breach of neutrality in capturing the federal bark at a point so near to British land. We understand, indeed, that two or three somewhat puzzling points are raised—some of them depending on mere ordinary evidence for settlement, and others requiring for their solution a reference to Vattel and the laws of nations. First, then, what is the range to which extends the territorial waters of British possessions? To this the general reply is a league; based on the fact, as Vattel declares, that it was considered the utmost range of cannon-shot in the olden times when he wrote. Has this in any way been affected by the greater projectile force of Armstrong’s and Whitworth’s? The second question is, assuming the legal distance to have been three miles, was the Sea Bride, at the time of her capture, within that range of the nearest British land] This is entirely a case of evidence, and the governor has been yesterday engaged in obtaining the best testimony bearing on the subject. The third is a nicer problem than either of the two. On Wednesday night the bark is alleged by some of her crew, who were still on board, to have drifted in within two miles of the light-house, while on Thursday she stood in again, and, as alleged, was [Page 381] clearly within British waters. How far, then, does this constitutea breach of neutrality, or how far does it support a claim to have the validity of the capture impugned?

What answers will be given to all these queries by the governor, or what further steps he may think fit to take in consequence of them is unknown. Both sides, however, may rely upon it that he will exert himself to the utmost to maintain a strict neutrality, and to secure fair and even-handed justice to all the parties concerned.


To the Editor of the Advertiser and Mail:

Sir: The capture of a federal vessel by a confederated steamer within sight of a British port, and, as some contend, even in British waters, raises an interesting discussion as to the international legality or illegality of the proceeding. It is. to be hoped that some of your numerous correspondents, legal or mercantile, interested, whether theoretically or practically, in the important point at issue, will not fail to enter on the inviting field of inquiry. Will any one, having access to the authorities and the ability to deal satisfactorily with the task, kindly oblige your readers by letting them know the exact state of the law on the question We hear on all sides that three miles is the limit from shore within which the Sea Bride could have claimed the protection of the British flag; but is this undisputed, and where is this precise distance laid down in black and white? Or is it derived merely by reasoning from analogy, by varying “cannon-range,” for instance, hereafter mentioned.

I do not propose to enter into the matter to advocate one side or the other, but in answer to the question just put, “Is this an undisputed rule ?” would take the liberty of referring to a work published by Lord Mackenzie (one of the judges of the court of session in Scotland) late in 1862, late enough, in fact, to have the advantage of treating also of the other international question, arising out of the seizure of the Trent by the federal San Jacinto, in November, 1861. Lord Mackenzie there says, page 152: “The ports of the sea near the coast being in some degree susceptible of property and of great importance to the safety of the country, are held by the modern law of nations to be comprehended within the territory of the state to which the coast belongs. To what distance a nation may extend its rights over the sea by which it is surrounded is a problem which has been a fruitful source of controversy, and is not easily determined. By most publicists the whole space of sea within cannon-shot of the coast is considered a part of the territory of the state, and for that reason a vessel captured within range of the cannon of a neutral fortress is not a lawful prize.”

According to this legal authority, then, the latest as far as we know, the limit is not reckoned by miles, but a limit of power reckoned by “cannon-range.” And this seems in accordance with the doctrine of property in the sea, laid down by Grotius, (De Jure Bell, et Pac., bk. 2, ch. 3, sec. 13-2,) who says that “the Tampire of a portion of the sea belongs to a territory in so far as those who sail on that part of the sea can be compelled from the shore as if they were on land.”

This would seem materially to alter the feature of the case. It raises the question, could a cannon planted at the furthest point of British dominion at the Cape, whether that point be (in theory) the stoop of the most projecting marine villa at Sea Point or the opposite coast of Bobben island, have thrown a ball, not alone into the Alabama (for she may have kept out of reach) but into the Sea Bride, at any moment from the commencement of the chase to the capturing close ?

I may mention that in course of conversation subsequently on board the Alabama I put the question directly to Captain Semmes, as to what the limit was [Page 382] His reply was: “Three miles.” Is it hot rather, I asked again, “within cannon-range ?” “That is just it,” was his significant reply, “in the olden days the cannon-range was taken as three miles.”

Bat cannons have improved and cannon-ranges much increased since those “olden days”—see Blakeley’s rifled five-miler on the Alabama’s very decks— and thus in now interpreting the terms cannon-range must we not, making allowances for this, assume the case ot the most powerful piece of artillery modern science has invented. The question, then, if Mackenzie is to be relied on, comes to this: would such a cannon, placed on the furthest projecting point of Anglo-African soil in the vicinity of the scene of capture, have rescued the fair Sea Bride.

I am sure I only speak the sentiments of many who are anxious to get exact and reliable information on an interesting subject, when I express the hope that some local “Vattel” will take up the question, treating it first on general principles of dominion in the sea, and then with reference to the particular subordinate case of the Alabama and the Sea Bride.


[From the Advertiser and Mail.]


The governor has denied, in reply to the representations of the American consul, that the bark Sea Bride was a legitimate prize to the confederate cruiser Alabama. This decision has, of course, dissatisfied the protesters, and some of them indulge in rather tall talk of the manifest one-sideness of British authorities, and of the terrible retribution that will one day befall them for it. That they should, be dissatisfied is natural enough, and no one can refuse his sympathy to men who have lost so much, so unexpectedly, and within so near a reach of perfeet safety. But we cannot see how his excellency could have acted in any other way. He had, in the first place, the conflicting testimony of the captors and the captured; the former declaring that they were more than three miles distant from the shore, and the latter less. He therefore discarded both, and determined to rely upon the best official evidence he could procure, from competent professional eye-witnesses on shore. Those whom he selected for that purpose, we believe, were the signal-man on the Lion’s Rump, and the keepers of the two lighthouses at Green Point and the Monelle. The former had a perfect bird’s eye view of the whole affair, and it is his daily business to estimate and report to town the distance of vessels entering the bay. The two others, though not quite so practiced as the signal-man in such matters, have had frequent experi ence in the same judging distance sort of drill. And all three concurred in the opinion that the Sea Bride, at the time of her capture, was about four or five miles from the nearest Green Point shore, and that she was between four and six miles from the nearest point of Robben island. With facts like these the governor could hardly have done otherwise than to adjudicate as he did, and yet it must be remembered that his adjudication is by no means final. If the American representatives can procure reliable evidence assigning a position to the bark within the territorial waters of the colony, it is quite within their power to avail themselves of it, and through their government to adduce it before the court of St. James in London. The imperial government will thus have the whole case fully before them, and should it then appear that injustice has been done, there can be no doubt that ample redress will be given, and the question be fairly and equitably disposed of. The whole affair, however, it must not be forgotten, is [Page 383] one simply of evidence, and as far as the evidence taken hitherto has gone, it seems to point very clearly against the claimants. The Americans, residents rehe, naturally complain, and with some bitterness, of what they consider the manifest sympathy which was shown with the confederate cause, in the person of the confederate commander (Semmes,) to an extent inconsistent with the neutrality which we profess. On this it must be remarked, that much if not most of the enthusiasm shown was the result of mere curiosity, combined with that hero worship which, for all sorts of apparent heroism, whether true or spurious, springs up instinctively in the human breast. At the same time, however, it cannot be denied that the extraordinary pluck displayed by the confederate States, while fighting for their own independence, has gained for them a sympathy which wholly overlooks the original grounds and origin of the strife. Such sympathy as this it is impossible to repress. Proclamations and decrees are powerless to oppose it, and are never intended to interfere with it. When we say, therefore, that we are neutral, we mean that our government in its official capacity and official acts is neutral, and such undoubtedly the government of the Oape of Good Hope has in the present instance shown itself to be. It is true that a few official persons were foolish enough to show their own excessive sympathy with the confederate commander, but their indiscretion was quickly checked by the governor personally, who felt that by some of the steps proposed to be taken by them the neutrality of his government might be seriously compromised. Since the departure of the Alabama yesterday morning, two American vessels entering Table bay had a narrow escape. They were, however, warned off by some boats in the offing, and were wide awake enough to hug the shore so closely as to put the neutrality of their position beyond dispute. While entering False bay again, yesterday, another American, the Martha Wentzel, was seized, but was quickly liberated on its being clearly shown that, at the time of her capture, she was within the protection of the claimed league from shore.

The confederate sailing cruiser Tuscaloosa put into Simon’s bay yesterday, after effecting a capture off the coast within the last week or two. This was a China vessel, the Santee, bound to England, but having a British cargo on board she was released on giving bond for a ransom of $150,000. The Tuscaloosa gave chase to another clipper ship, the Snow Squall, and got near enough to fire into her. The fugitive, however, outstripped her in speed, and got clear away.

In connexion with this, it will be interesting to the commercial world to know that Captain Semmes lays it down as a rule, that whenever a bona fide British cargo is found on board an American bottom, the vessel is always released on payment of a ransom. In every other case the prize is remorselessly burnt and sunk. In addition to this, it may be stated that for all his numerous captures he has to give account, and establish a condemnation before an admiralty prize court in the Confederate States. It is,, therefore, his invariable rule to make a provisional but formal inquiry into each individual case as it arises, to investigate and record all the circumstances of it, and to register and preserve the evidence on which his provisional condemnation is based. Some of these judgments and other matters we shall publish in our Mail issue next week.

[From a Cape Town torn paper.]


The confederate steamer Alabama still remains in Table bay, but probably, if the weather moderates, will leave for Simon’s bay this morning. She has taken in some supplies, such as biscuits, &c., and Mr. Conebrink is preparing some [Page 384] boiler plates, and other articles which are necessary for the repair of her machinery. Captain Semmes has not left his vessel (except to pay a complimentary visit to H. M. Steamer. Valorous, and the East India and London Company’s steamer Lady Jocelyn) since his arrival here, and will not land at Cape Town. He is thoroughly alive to the paramount importance of the work he is engaged in, and puts off all idea of relaxation and repose until the war is over, and he may be able to draw a long breath. It was his intention to proceed to sea yesterday morning, to take out of the Sea Bride such supplies as he wants, and then burn her, but the severe weather of yesterday has prevented this. The American consul and the colonial government are meanwhile in correspondence respecting the legality of Captain Semmes’s proceedings on Wednesday. The consul has put in the protest of the captain and mate of the Sea Bride to prove that he was within two miles and a half of land, and therefore in neutral waters when seized by the Alabama. The government, on the other hand, has got the statement of the signal-man on the Lion’s Rump that the bark was four miles off land, and of Captain Bisset, Mr. Wollaston, and others, that she was more than three miles distant, and therefore beyond the neutral line. The consul, in addition to the protest alluded to, has received the evidence of the steward and seamen of the Sea Bride, who were left on board at the capture until Thursday. They state that on Wednesday night a signal was made from the Alabama to burn the bark, and that tar barrels were placed at different parts of the vessel, and ammunition piled in the cabin and forecastle for that purpose; but a subsequent signal from the Alabama seemed to countermand the order, and the bark lay on and off the port. At one time she was within one mile of Green Point light-house, and at another time about two miles from land, which is also considered contrary to the rules of neutrality, which provide that no prize is to be taken into British waters. The consul has asked that the prize be taken possession of by the Valorous, until the question of legality is decided. The government, however, does not feel at present disposed to attempt any interference either with Captain Semmes or his prize.