General Sickles to Mr. Fish.
Madrid , February 3, 1874. (Received March 20.)
Sir: I have the honor to forward herewith a copy and translation of a decree declaring the northern coast of Spain, from Cape de Peñas to Fuenterrabia, in a state of blockade. The ports of Gijon, Santander, and San Sebastian are excepted. The blockade includes some two hundred and fifty miles of coast.
It will be observed that the blockade is declared effective from the twentieth instant; that vessels bound for the open ports of Gijon, Santander, and San Sebastian are liable to search and detention, and to certain penalties denounced in the blockade regulations prescribed for the Spanish Pacific squadron November 26, 1864, and that no information is given as to what will be deemed “contraband of war.” With reference to the rules of the Peruvian blockade of 1864, Mr. Layard informs me he applied at the state department for a copy of them, but they could not be found.
It seems, according to Article V, that the necessary war-vessels are ordered to the coast to make the blockade effective) but one may perhaps venture to intimate a doubt whether, considering the resources of the Spanish navy, the execution of these orders is practicable.
Under all the circumstances, it is not likely that the European powers will suffer the rich commerce of the Bay of Biscay to be subjected to annoyance and interruption by a blockade of this character.
I am, &c.,