Mr. Koerner to Mr. Seward.
Sir:Some weeks ago the British steamer Princess, Captain St. Clair, from New Castle to Ancona, in ballast, entered the port of Malaga to coal.
Suspicion being aroused, a somewhat thorough search by the port authorities discovered secreted in the hold several rifled cannon, revolvers, sabres, a large amount of powder, military accoutrements, Congreve rockets, boarding hooks, [Page 12] and a box fall of signals. These articles, not being in the manifest, and therefore liable to confiscation, were seized, and are now in the government stores. The captain and crew were arrested, but, on the guarantee of the British consul, were allowed to remain on board. An embargo is laid on the ship. Captain and crew protest their innocence; state that they were engaged by a Mr. Felix, alias Captain Robson, to take charge of the ship in ballast, and to take her around to Ancona, where she was to serve as a packet on the Adriatic, and that they absolutely did not know what was secreted in the hold.
By some it was supposed that the cargo was intended for revolutionists in Spain; by others for the party of action in Italy; still by others that it was to be shipped to the Danubian principalities, or to Circassia.
The peculiar character of the armament, however, has led some, myself included, to believe that it was meant to be transshipped to some confederate pirate.
Before the Princess made Malaga she had been hovering around the coasts of the Bay of Biscay and of Portugal, probably waiting for the Florida from Brest, or the Rappahannock (Virginia,) which lately left England in an unfinished condition.
Our vice-consul at Malaga, Mr. Geary, is watching the proceedings there closely. Sir John Crampton has in a very friendly manner given me all the information he himself possesses, derived from voluminous reports of the British consul at Malaga. The consuls of Cadiz, Valencia, and Barcelona, have received instructions to exercise the utmost vigilance in their respective ports. The contraband articles are for the present out of harm’s way, and will in all probability be confiscated. Feeling thus secure for some time to come at least, I have not yet addressed myself to the government here, awaiting further developments.
I mean, however, to have an informal conversation about the subject in my next interview with the minister of state.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.