Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 7, 1874
Mr. Hall to Mr. Davis.
Havana , November 5, 1873. (Received November 12.)
Sir: Referring to my No. 294, of this date, informing the Department of the capture of steamer Virginius on the 31st ultimo, toward (as stated) the coast of Jamaica, by a Spanish vessel of war, the capture also of one hundred and sixty-five persons who were found onboard, and their being under trial as pirates at Santiago de Cuba, I now transmit [Page 1054] a copy of a communication which I have addressed to the captain-general of this island, respecting the case of the Virginius, and of such citizens of the United States as may be found among the prisoners, claiming for them the rights, privileges, and considerations to which they are entitled by the treaty of 1795, and that no sentence of death shall be executed upon such citizens until the facts have been brought to the knowledge of the governments of Spain and of the United States. The communication referred to I considered necessary on account of the intense excitement prevailing here, the statement that the prisoners were being tried as pirates by a competent tribunal, and the universal clamor of the peninsular population for vengeance, urged on by such papers as the “Voz de Cuba.”
The locality of the Virginius when captured has not been made pub-lie. That she was not in Cuban waters or within Spanish maritime jurisdiction is clearly evident, having been overtaken after a chase of eight hours toward the coast of Jamaica.
Telegraphic communication with Santiago de Cuba being interrupted, I have written to the vice-consul in charge there to ascertain and inform me, as soon as possible, whether the vessel was captured in neutral or British waters, and other particulars of the affair.
I am, &c,
Havana , November 5, 1873.
Excellency: An official bulletin published in a Gaceta extraordinariaof this date, as therein reported by order of your excellency, announces the capture of the steamer Virginius on the 31st ultimo, toward the coast of Jamaica, together with some one hundred and sixty-five persons on board, who are, as may be inferred from the same report, prisoners at Santiago de Cuba, and are now being tried, as pirates, by a competent tribunal.
It is not my purpose or desire to enter into any discussion in regard to the nationality of the vessel, or in regard to the intentions of the persons who were found on board; but I do respectfully call the attention of your excellency to the fact that the said steamer was not captured within the waters of Cuba, or its maritime jurisdiction, and being further persuaded that, among the persons who have thus been captured, there are some who are citizens of the United States, I hereby claim for them all the rights, privileges, and considerations to which they are entitled under the stipulations of the treaty of 1795 between Spain and the United States, and that no sentence of death shall be carried into execution until an opportunity has been had of bringing all the facts of the case to the knowledge of the government of Spain as well as that of the United States.
I have the honor to assure your excellency of my high consideration and respect.
Acting Consul-General of the United States.
His Excellency the Superior Political
and Captain-General of the Island of Cuba, &c.
From the “Diario” extra of November 5, 1873.
HURRAH FOR SPAIN.
The commandant-general of marine has just communicated to us the following very important dispatch, dated Santiago de Cuba, November 1:
“The following persons were found on board of the Virginius and taken prisoners: [Page 1055] Bembeta, a brother of Cespedes, a son of Quesada, Jesus del Sol, together with others making 165 in all, some of them being very prominent persons. The names of some of them are unknown. In their flight they threw their horses and a part of their cargo overboard, and used hams and quantities of other provisions as fuel. The Tornado got sight of them at half past 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and overtook them at 10 o’clock at night, near the coast of Jamaica.
“The competent tribunal is trying the piratical prisoners.”
This news, we do not doubt, will till all loyal hearts with joy, for the Virginius is the first piratical vessel that has been taken by our brave tars. The filibusters have been taken to Santiago de Cuba, where they are being tried.
More severe penalties are provided for the crime of piracy than for any other by the laws of all civilized nations. We suppose that among the prisoners must be Santa Rosa, Ryan, the American, and others mentioned in the letters of our New York correspondent, who is known to the readers of the “Diario.” Any intelligence that we may receive in relation to this important event will be published by us without delay. It now only remains for us to add that the Tornado is commanded by Captain Dionisio Costilla.
We have neither time nor space now to enter into considerations concerning the capture of the Virginius, to which vessel we have so often referred in our columns; but we neither can nor will close this article without warmly congratulating the Spanish navy, and especially the brave crew of the Tornado, his excellency Captain-General Jovellar, who commences his career on this island with so great success, as a nucleus of future days of complete victory, and the loyal men of Cuba, who will exclaim with us, filled with the most holy enthusiasm, Hurrah for the Spanish navy! Hurrah for the integrity of our country’s territory!
We have just received a “Gaceta” extra, in which is published the second dispatch. It is pretty much the same as the one which our readers have just read above. It reads thus:
“According to a telegram received from the general commanding the first division, the steamer Tornado got sight of the steamer Virginius at half past 2 o’clock in the afternoon of October 31, and came up with her at 10 o’clock at night, near the coast of Jamaica. The following individuals were found on board of her and taken prisoners: Bembeta, a brother of Cespedes, Jesus del Sol, a son of Quesada, and others, making a total of 165, some of them being persons of importance. They threw their horses overboard in their flight, and used a portion of their cargo as fuel.
“The competent tribunal is trying the piratical prisoners.
“The foregoing is published for general information, by order of his excellency the brigadier chief of E. M., Pedro de Zea.”
A committee of the Spanish Club of Havana called to-day at 12 o’clock in to congratulate his excellency the governor captain-general on his safe arrival, and to compliment him on his taking charge of his office, stating to him, at the same time, that they considered as a most happy augury the circumstance that his arrival on these shores had occurred at the same time with the capture of the filibustering steamer Virginius.
The same committee then congratulated his excellency the commandant-general of this naval station, and with him the navy at large, on the very important service just rendered by it to our country.
On receiving the intelligence of the capture of the Virginius, the inhabitants of Muralla and Mercaderes streets hung out festoons and similar emblems of rejoicing, as is done on national holidays.
Most Important Capture.—The command of his excellency General Jovellar in this island is inaugurated under the most brilliant auspices. The national steamer Tornado has captured the famous filibuster steamer Virginius, on board of which were the following rebel leaders: Jesus del Sol, Bembeta, a brother of Cespedes, a son of Quesada, and 160 other persons, among whom it seems that there were other leaders.
The valuable cargo of the Virginius has likewise fallen into the hands of the brave [Page 1056] tars of the Tornado. This consisted of material and munitions of war, and was all secured, with the exception of a few boxes of arms, which the pirates threw overboard before they were captured.
The Tornado took her valuable prize to Santiago de Cuba, and there, as we learn, the traitors were being tried by the marine court.
We have been unable to obtain a copy of the official telegram, and are consequently in possession of no further particulars.
We hope that the sword of the law will fall without delay upon these infamous wretches, who deserve no consideration. They have already abused Spanish clemency to excess, and have laughed at it; it is now time for them to feel Spanish justice.
We congratulate our most worthy captain-general with all our hearts on this most happy inauguration of his government in this island, and we confidently hope that it is a sure augury of the conclusion of the war under his glorious command. From the time when the first hews of his appointment reached us, great were the hopes entertained by the good Spaniards of this island, in view of his well-known patriotism, his clear judgment, and his bravery, and it appears that divine Providence is announcing to us the realization of these hopes by the happy event which now occupies our attention.
On arriving here we received some details which our readers will read with interest.
This important capture is mainly due to the prudent measures adopted by his excellency the general of marine. Being aware of the movements of the Virginius, he accurately calculated at what point she would land, and sent the Tornado to watch that coast; this vessel, of all those belonging to the national navy that are now in Cuban waters, was the one best suited to the performance of the service in question, by reason of her great speed. In order to effect this, as we have heard, he had to make a great effort to prevent General Pieltain from insisting upon sending the Tornado to Jamaica, as he had ordered. The result has proved the correctness of the calculations of his excellency the general of marine, and we tender Mm our most heartfelt congratulations.
It seems that the chase lasted for eight hours without interruption, during which the Virginius, in order to feed the fires of her furnaces, and to keep up the steam at the highest pressure, burned everything that could produce this result, including the hams which she carried among her provisions.
We again most warmly congratulate their excellencies, General Jouvellar y Rigada, Don Dionisio Costillo, the gallant commander of the Tornado, and all the brave men under his command, on account of the glorious day that they have given to our beloved Spain; we congratulate, moreover, all the loyal Spaniards of this island, on which the brilliant light now begins to shine of that much-wished-for day of peace and happiness for which we have all hoped so long.
Since the foregoing lines were written, we have received a copy of the “Gaceta” extra, which is as follows:
“Havana, November 5, 1873.
“According to a telegram received from the commandant-general of the first division, 1 the steamer Tornado got sight of the steamer Virginius on the 31st ult., at half past two o’clock in the afternoon, and overhauled her, at ten o’clock at night, near the coast of Jamaica. The following persons were taken prisoners: Bembeta, a brother of Cespedes, a son of Quesada, Jesus de Sol, and others, one hundred and sixty-five in all, some of them being prominent characters. They threw their horses overboard in their flight, and used a part of the cargo as fuel for the fires of their furnaces.
“The competent court is now engaged in trying the piratical prisoners.
“The above is published for general information, by order of his excellency.
“The Brigadier Chief of E.
“PEDRO DE ZEA.”
As this supplement was going to press, we received the following telegram from Santa Clara, which we hasten to publish. The enthusiasm at the capital is indescribable, and will be so at every point of the island where loyal hearts beat:
“Santa Clara, November 5, 1873.
“To the Editor of the ‘Voz de Cuba:’
“The Spaniards of this city, without distinction, congratulate through you the captors of the pirates.
We have suspended the printing of this supplement for a few moments on account of having received a call from several enthusiastic Spaniards, who, desiring to manifest the gratitude of the loyal to the gallant commander of the Tornado and the brave men under his command, have opened a subscription for the purpose of giving them evidence of this gratitude by a testimonial which will perpetuate both the remembrance of the very important service which they have rendered to the cause of Spain and the high estimation in which this service is held by the loyal men of Cuba.
The following is the list handed in by them:
Subscription for the purpose of presenting a testimonial to the commander, officers, and crew of the national steamer Tornado, for the capture of the filibustering steamer Virginius.
|Antonio c. Telleria||$10|
|Manuel Maria Carreras||10|
|Justo Nuñez Villavicencio||10|
|Luis A. Suarez||10|
|Anselmo F. Saavedra||10|
|To the above supscriptions the editor of the Voz de Cuba adds||50|
As we were putting this supplement to press we received from the gentlemen whose names are given below the following sums:
|Sr. D. Juan A. Colomé||$100|
|Sr. D. José de Olano||100|
|Sr. D. José Suarez Argadin||100|
The subscription-list still remains open at the office of the Voz de Cuba.