Mr. Koerner to Mr. Seward.

No. 76.]

Sir: * * * * *

The Santo Domingo question is lately occupying very much the thoughts of the reflecting portion of the nation. Some papers boldly advocate an abandonment of the island. It is certain that the cabinet has been very much engaged with the subject. Officials lately arrived from the theatre of war have been examined by the ministers. It is reported, upon pretty good authority, that a commission will be sent there to make a thorough investigation into the condition of affairs. Letters from the island, freely published in the papers here, represent a thorough conquest, and the restoration of lasting tranquillity there, as impossible. It is easy enough for the Spanish troops to subdue the insurgent places near the coast, where such troops can be subsisted by the fleet. But the interior is said to be so thinly peopled, so little cultivated, so densely covered by primeval forests, so destitute of roads, that no armies can penetrate into the country, where bands of natives can exist with ease, ready to issue forth, whenever an opportunity offers, to assail the Spanish posts.

I believe that the government of Hayti does its best (at least apparently) to prevent encouragement and material aid being given to the Santo Domingo people; but this being a war of races, and Spain being feared as a neighbor in the island, it cannot, weak as it is, restrain the Haytians from affording great assistance to the insurgents. Add to all this the terrible climate, which is making fearful ravages in the Spanish army, and it may well be believed when it is said that there is hardly a man now in Spain but regrets deeply this annexation, and denounces it now as a most egregious blunder. A strong and powerful ministry alone, however, could take the step of abandoning the fatal gift, and such a one does not at present exist, and may not exist for a long time to come. In the meanwhile the finances of Spain, never very flourishing, though lately improving, will suffer very greatly.

The Dutch and Prussian ministers here, as also the consul general of the Hanseatic towns, have received instructions from their respective governments to present claims for damages done to their shipping by the bombardment of Puerto Plata by the Spanish forces. The English minister has also received notice that claims will be presented. Upon the supposition that the United States had similar claims I have been applied to for joint action in the matter. But as I have not received any information on the subject, I have of course refrained from saying or doing anything.

Your circular despatch of the 12th of August, 1863, presenting succinctly and forcibly a tableau of the condition of military affairs in our country, and of the steady progress of the Union cause, has been translated by Mr. Perry into [Page 9] Spanish, and has been issued in pamphlet form in a neat and elegant style here in Madrid, and is now distributing. Mr. Perry has already sent you some copies. It has made a favorable impression.

I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your most obedient servant,


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