Mr. Fish to General Sickles.
Hall telegraphs that Havana papers of this morning published statement, apparently from official source, that the captain and thirty-six of the crew of Virginius, and sixteen others, were shot on 7th and 8th instant.
It is hoped the report of such butchery and murder may prove inaccurate. You will ask of minister confirmation or denial of the report. The alleged date is subsequent to the orders said to have been sent from Madrid forbidding any punishments.
I have telegraphed for further intelligence. If the report be confirmed, you will protest, in the name of this Government, and of civilization and humanity, against the act as brutal, barbarous, and an outrage upon the age, and will declare that this Government will demand the most ample reparation of any wrong which may have been committed upon any of its citizens or upon its flag. You are confidentially informed that grave suspicions exist as to the right of the Virginius to carry the American flag, as also with regard to her right to the American papers which she is said to have carried. Investigation is being made. You will bear this in mind in what you may say to the ministry.