Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward

No. 50.]

Sir: Referring to your despatch No. 48, relative to the capture of the United States steamer Ark by rebel Texans in Mexican waters when on a voyage from New Orleans to Matamoras, I have the honor to enclose a communication which I made upon the subject to his excellency the minister of foreign affairs yesterday.

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


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys

Sir: On the 16th day of July last the United States steamer Ark, belonging to John Bachino, a citizen of the United States, and commanded by Captain A. Williamson, was cleared from the port of New Orleans for the port of Matamoras, in Mexico.

When about twelve miles above Bagdad, on the Rio Grande, in consequence of an accident to her machinery, she grounded within a few yards of the Mexican shore. While in this position, and in Mexican waters, she was seized, on the 7th of August, by insurgent [Page 376] enemies of the United States from Texas, taken to Brownsville, condemned with her cargo as lawful prize, and sold at auction to some Mexican citizens.

The constant abuse of the rights of neutrals by persons trading with the port of Matamoras throughout the present war, and the open intercourse and unfeigned good understanding between inhabitants of that port and enemies of the United States in Texas, have materially prolonged the war itself, and have provoked, if not the seizure, at least the blockade of Matamoras as a measure of self-protection.

In view of all these facts, I am instructed to express to your excellency the desire of my government that neutrality may be regularly enforced by the French troops in occupation of Matamoras, and thus a source of embarrassment may be removed which seems to be quite unnecessary.

I have the honor to renew to your excellency the assurance of my most distinguished consideration.


His Excellency Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paris.