Mr. Sullivan to Mr. Hanaberg.
Sir: Your two attentive favors of the 29th ultimo, informing me, among other things, of the arrival of Rear-Admiral Palmer and Commodore Bissel, United States navy, with their war steamers, in the habor of Carthageiia, and of the stiff manner of their reception by the President of the State of Bolivar, came to hand by yesterday’s mail.
You will please thank, in my name, the commanding officer of the Spanish frigate Gerona, for the respect which he had paid those officers in saluting the American flag, as stated in your letter No. 8.
You say that information has reached you “that the first officer of the Colombia, Lieutenant G. A. Borchart, who had held the same position in the steamer Rayo, had been captured and shot by General Herrera, at Rio Hatché.”
Should this information turn out to be true, and that he was an American citizen, entitled to the protection of our government, it becomes a very serious international question.
That you may know my views on the subject of the officers and crew of the Rayo having been fraudulently decoyed from the United States, and then made the sport of, and derided by, designing demagogues, I send the following extract from a postscript which I had prepared, but not sent, to my letter No. 13, of June 29th last, addressed to Captain Foster, of the Osceola, on hearing that these men were captured and about to be punished by General Lopez’s forces:
“Just as I was about to mail this dispatch a report reached me that American citizens, while endeavoring to escape from the bondage to which they have lately been held on board of the war steamer Rayo, were retaken by General Lopez’s forces, and are being held for trial before a court-martial; I therefore request that you will, as soon as possible, demand of the commanders of the Rayo and Colombia, of General Lopez, and of the President of the State of Bolivar, the names and cause of detention of all citizens of the United States of America held by them, or either of them, by virtue of any pretended contract of servitude, or otherwise; and, that if, upon a full examination of the whole facts in the case, you should find any citizen of the United States of America unjustly held by any of these officers, you will demand and obtain his release in such a manner as will insure success.
“The duplicity and fraud said to have been practiced upon these unfortunate Americans, for the purpose of alluring them from their homes, under guise of splendid and honorable employment, calls for strict investigation into their sad case; but, at all events, you will see that no injury shall result to them, or any of them, until a full report of their case is submitted to our government and its opinion is known on the subject.”[Page 1033]
The report that these men were not captured as stated, having only reached me, caused me to withhold the above at that time.
Should I find, upon inquiry, that this American citizen (?) has been shot at Rio Hatché, I will cause an immediate investigation into the facts of the case.
I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Augustus S. Hanaberg, Esq., United States Consul at Carthagena, U. S. C.