Mr. Harvey to Mr. Seward

No. 326.]

Sir: A British steamer, known as the Amy, put into this port some time ago in a disabled condition, and has remained here since then evidently waiting for instructions. That vessel was strictly observed by my direction, because her appearance, and the reports which attached to her, excite suspicion.

Since the capture of Wilmington the Amy has received orders to return to Glasgow—a fact which points almost conclusively to her original destination. A pending controversy between the crew and commander has developed a fact which is worthy of notice by the Navy Department, since it may serve to guide the instructions to be given to officers afloat, on blockade or other duty, concerning the papers of ships which they may examine.

The actual captain of the Amy is not the person named in her papers, and he holds no certificate, such as the British law requires, entitling him to command. His explanation is that he took charge of the steamer at the last moment, be [Page 109] cause the regular commander refused to make the voyage. It may be assumed that many such cases have occurred, and, perhaps, have escaped seizure as lawful prizes upon the faith of papers which covered international fraud.

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


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.