[326] *The minister of the marine and the colonies to Monsieur the vice-admiral, maritime prefect at Cherbourg.


We cannot permit the Alabama to enter into one of our basins of the arsenal, that not being indispensable to place it in a state to go again to sea.

This vessel can address itself to commerce (commercial accommodations) for the urgent repairs it has need of to enable it to go out; but the principles of neutrality, recalled in my circular of the 5th of February, do not permit us to give to one of the belligerents the means to augment its forces, and in some sort to rebuild itself; in fine, it is not proper that one of the belligerents take, without ceasing, our ports, and especially our arsenals, as a base of their operations, and, so to say, as one of their own proper ports.

You will observe to the captain of the Alabama that he has not been forced to enter into Cherbourg by any accidents of the sea, and that he could altogether as well have touched at the ports of Spain or Portugal, of England, of Belgium, and of Holland.

[327] As to the prisoners made by the Alabama, and who have been placed ashore, they are free from the time they have touched our soil; but they ought *not to be delivered up to the Kearsarge, which is a Federal ship of war. This would be for the Kearsarge an augmentation of military force, and we can no more permit this for one of the belligerents than for the other.