Mr. Hall to Mr. Davis.
Havana , November 7, 1873. (Received November 13.)
Sir: Referring to dispatches Nos. 294 and 295 of 5th instant, relative to the capture of the steamer Virginius by the Spanish man-of-war Tornado, I now inclose further particulars, taken from the daily journals.
The accounts differ as to her proximity, at the time, to the coast of Jamaica. That given by the “Voz de Cuba” states that the capture was effected more than twelve miles from said coast. Other published accounts give the distance, at the time, as eight and twenty miles, while the “Diario de la Marina,” as if foreseeing the gravity of the question, asserts that the chase of the Virginius was commenced in Spanish waters, and the capture effected on the high seas at twenty-three miles from the coast of Jamaica and about sixty from Cuba.
I inclose the substance of a communication received from the United States vice-consul at Santiago de Cuba, which appears to corroborate another opinion, that the Virginius, when captured, was in British waters. It is also stated by the Spanish accounts that the vessel had no [Page 1058] papers or clearance, but the consul at Santiago de Cuba supposes that the steamer was regularly cleared for Colon, (Aspinwall,) and had all her papers in order.
The Tornado with the Virginius arrived at Santiago de Cuba on the evening of the 1st instant, and next day at 9 o’clock a court-martial was convened, which appears to have finished its labors at 4 o’clock of the same day, and the sentences of the court transmitted in sealed covers to the captain-general and commandant-general of marine. On the morning of the 4th, and before the news of the capture had reached here, the following were shot: Bernabe Yarona, (a) Bembeta, O. Ryan, Pedro Cespedes, and Jesus del Sol.
There has been no direct telegraphic communication with Santiago de Cuba since 14th ultimo, consequently we must await further and fuller information by mail, the time occupied being usually four days.
I beg to call the attention of the Department to the fact that the consul at Santiago de Cuba desired to communicate by the cable with Kingston, Jamaica, and was not permitted by the authorities to do so.
I am, &c,