Mr. Benavides, minister of foreign affairs, to Mr. Perry, United States chargé d’affaires.


Sir: I have received your two notes of the 5th and 9th instant, in which, after informing me of the arrival of the iron-clad steamer Stonewall, with three guns, 300 horse-power, and seventy-nine men, at the port of Ferrol, you request the government of Her Majesty the Queen not to permit the said vessel to repair nor to take coals and provisions, only enough to last her while in this port.

[465] In the present case the government of Her Majesty must adhere to the decree of the 17th of June, 1861, the object of which was to prevent Spaniards from interfering *in the struggle now going on in the United States, as all private interest is stimulated by the hope of gain. It was to be feared they would take part on either side.

In consequence of this the government of Her Majesty has ordered instructions to be given to the captain-general of the department of Ferrol not to permit other than necessary repairs to the steamer Stonewall, to be determined by the commander of engineers, so as to make her sea-worthy, but not to improve or increase her sea fitness or military efficacy.

In reference to your remarks about the arrival of the Stonewall at Ferrol, I must say she came with papers in due form, without the least indication that she wished to take on articles contraband of war; whereas examinations of her damages show she put in under stress, for certain safety.

This being the case, the government of Her Majesty could not disregard the voice of humanity in perfect harmony with the laws of neutrality, and does not think they are violated by allowing a vessel only the repairs strictly necessary to navigate without endangering the lives of the crew.

I hope you will be satisfied with these lawful reasons for the resolution in regard to the Stonewall, and will accept the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.


The United States Chargé d’affaires.