Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward

No. 36]

Sir: One of the last communications which I had the honor to address to you from the consulate related to a scheme for enrolling Poles in this city, and in other parts of France and Europe, for the confederates. I am now able to give you some more definite information upon the subject.

The project had its origin with a Colonel Smolenski, a Pole by birth, who had resided many years in Texas, and who came out here to take part in the recent Polish revolution. He could not agree with the Polish commissioners here, abandoned their cause, and projected a scheme for the colonization of the northern frontier states of the confederacy with his unfortunate country people, who were to be supplied with a passage, a farm, and some other privileges, on condition that they would bear arms, if necessary, in defence of their new homes [Page 367] The terms were framed under the direction of a Mr. Williams, an Englishman, of whom I can learn nothing precise, and a man named Bujnicky, refugeed from Russian Poland, whose property has been confiscated, and whose wife has been sent to Siberia. This man went, on the 26th of December last, to London for funds; he was here the other day, but without funds; his address there is Hotel Krall, John Street, American Square, London. Two Poles—one named Wilkiewiez, and the other Leongewski—were charged to receive the enrolments. When the number reached three hundred, they were to be sent on to the Confederate States; and it was to obtain funds to meet the expenses of their expedition that Bujnicky went to London. Three different recruiting stations were opened in Paris, and I am told that the number of three hundred would have been ready if the funds had arrived.

Before the affair, however, had reached this point, the police, whose forbearance had been counted upon, and not without reason, began to take a new interest in what was going on, and Mr. Boudeville, the head of the department of police, which is occupied with the movements of emigrants, sent his men and seized all the lists and documents in possession of the recruiting agents, and put an end, for the present at least, to the scheme.

He took exception to the clause of their articles about bearing arms; said he had no objection to their going as mere colonists where they pleased, but the conditions of their enlistment compromised the neutrality of France. They must find means to go somewhere else to enlist, if they wished to enter the confederate service. He then said, that if they wished to enter the Mexican service, they might receive some encouragement. Here the matter now stands. I presume if these men avail themselves of Mr. Boudeville’s proposal, they will be used in aid of the Emperor’s undertaking to bring back the French army from Mexico.

I learn from the same source which supplies me these details, that a Mr. Irwin S. Bullock and a Mr. Lewis were here, on the second of January, to confer with the recruiting agents about this business, and left on the fifth for Marseilles and Toulon. They have not returned so far as I can learn, though, as I was informed about that time, they were soon expected.

Two hundred and fifty Polish volunteers enlisted in London, and are expected to embark at Liverpool on the 25th of this month.

Some Polish refugees in Switzerland have written to a Mr. Teichman, also a Pole, acting for the confederates here, asking for aid to carry them to the confederate territory. It is also reported here among the Poles that Count Sabol-ewsky had been furnished with forty-five thousand francs to be used in collecting Polish recruits at Zurich and in Italy.

While applications from Frenchmen and Germans for service in our army have been constant for three years past, I do not remember to have received a half a dozen from Poles during my residence here.

This fact, taken in connexion with what seems a sort of combined movement among the refugees of that unhappy province, leads me to suppose that some means have been used to persuade them that they have common cause with the insurgents against us on the ground that the United States have made common cause with Russia against them.

I have here given you all the information I possess upon this subject up to date. I have not communicated these details as they reached me from time to time, because there seemed to be no occasion to trouble you with them.

I am, sir, with great respect, your very obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, &c., &c., &c.