Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 7, 1874
Mr. Fish to Mr. Williams.
Washington , December 12, 1873.
Sir: Referring to my communication of yesterday, I have now the honor to submit for your consideration a copy in translation of additional affidavits in the matter of the Virginius, received from the Spanish minister here. I will thank you to return the inclosed papers when you havedone with them.
I have, &c.,
Havana , December 2, 1871.
Most Excellent Sir: To be used as your excellency may deem convenient, I have the honor of inclosing the testimony, taken in due legal form, given by two of the crew of the last expedition of the Virginius, who presented themselves, and whose depositions were taken, in the presence of the consuls of the United States of America and of Venezuela.
May God, &c,
His Excellency the Minister of Spain in Washington.
Plaza de la Havana , 1871.
Examination of the Venezuelan prisoners of war, Anselmo Villarreal and Gervasia Parra, who testify in the presence of the consuls of the United States and of Venezuela, whose signatures are hereunto attached.
Lieutenant-Colonel of Infantry.
Secretary D. Roman Pardina y
Commander, Captain of Infantry.
Don Roman Pardina y Mur, captain of infantry and secretary on the trial of the prisoners of war, Anselmo Villarreal and Gervasio Parra, Venezuelans, who came to this island on board the pirate ship Virginius, commanded by the chief, Rafael Quesada, whose prosecutor is fiscal magistrate, the lieutenant-colonel of infantry, Don Antonio Bertram Arnalte, certifies that on page 8 and following is found the examination of the prisoners of war Anselmo Villarreal and Gervasio Parra, Venezuelans, which literally states as follows: In the city of Santiago de Cuba, on the 26th day of the month of October, 1871, the fiscal magistrate, accompanied by a notary, resolved to go to the barrack of San Francisco, in this town, where the Venezuelan Anselmo Villarreal is confined, and commanded his appearance, and the prisoner appearing and the notary having stated to him the object of his being called, the said officer examined him, asking his name, age, country, religion, profession, and occupation. He stated that his name was Anselmo Villarreal; 43 years of age; native of the island of Marguerite, republic of Venezuela; Roman Catholic; by profession, a market-peddler in Puerto Cabello. Being asked if he knew the cause of his arrest, he said that he supposed the reason was his having taken part in the expedition of insurgents to this island. Being asked when he came to this island, and upon what conditions, he said that in May last, of this year, he was sick in the hospital of Caracas, and when he left there some friend of his intimated to him that he might enlist himself and form a part of the expedition that Manuel Quesada was planning to disembark in Cuba; that he did not then decide, but went to Puerto Cabello, and that about the 7th or 8th of June following, moved by the promises and brilliant prospects of booty from the enemy, and the promise of adollar a day, which was offered, and hoping that in the expedition he would receive that money, he resolved to join it—more especially when he was told that he was coming to an island which belonged already to the insurgents, to organize an army to prevent the Spaniards from recovering it; that on the 13th of said month he embarked on the steamer Virginius with 39 countrymen of his, 6 or 7 Cubans, and 5 from Porto Rico, all of them commanded by Rafael Quesada and the Venezuelan General Manuel [Page 1110] Garrido, and disembarked at Bocca de Cabello, on the south coast of this island, in the vicinity of Se villa, on the 21st day of the month, in which place a few negroes were waiting for them, who belonged to the party of Jesus Péres. Being asked what he haddone and in what places he had found himself from his arrival until the moment he was captured by the Spanish troops, and being requested to state everything he knew about this matter, he answered and said that first was the landing of the men and material of war; that of the material of war there were 300 carbines, (Minie,) 300 guns, (Spencer,) about 200,000 cartridges of both kinds, 30 saddles, 600 cartridge-boxes, 8 or 10 barrels full of linen pantaloons, made pf ordinary linen, and other articles of clothing of the same material, 2 large pieces of heavydoth for cold weather, and 2 boxes of machetas; that they loaded all these on 40 mules, which were also brought in the expedition, and each individual carrying the arms of five persons; they made two trips to a place the name of which hedoes not know, but which is about two leagues and a half from the coast, where they passed the night, starting next morning, accompanied by Jesus Peres, toward La Magdalena, where they arrived two days afterward, where they divided the arms, and in consequence of being together, about 300 persons of both sexes, necessity obliged them to eat the animals they had brought; that from said place they all started toward Cambute, but the deponent fell sick on the journey and was left behind, arriving at said place four days afterward, where, through five of his countrymen who had also been left behind on account of sickness, he learned that Rafael Quesada and Garrido had continued their journey toward Puerto Principe, but that he heard nothing more about them afterward; and, finally, that after that time, in consequence of their being sick, they took the arms from them, and they followed the party among the women, until, not having strength enough to walk any longer, he was captured in the encampment of San Pedro, by the force of Brigadier Campos, who left him in said place with the view of inducing his companions to present themselves with him to the government, only one of whom, however, was induced to remain with him, and who was afterward taken by a party of Spanish troops that arrived from La Florida; to which place deponent went almost crawling, being too feeble to walk, and where he arrived three days after the others; that of the other four countrymen of his, two died, one hanged himself, and the other was in the party of Matias Vega, so that he could not see him; that the deponent felt bound to state that he did not think when he enlisted that he was to come and fight against the Spaniards, but only to earn better wages than in his own country in order to sustain his family, and induced by the tempting offers they made him; and that he has nothing more to say.
At this point the magistrate resolved to suspend the examination. Deponent, when this deposition was read to him, confirmed it in everything, signing it in the presence of the attorney. To which I hereby certify.
In my presence.
In the city of Havana, on the 13th day of the month of November, 1871, after being summoned, appeared before said magistrate in the civil hospital of San Felippe of Santiago of this city, where the prisoners of war, Anselmo Villarreal and Gervasio Parra, were sick, the doctor on duty, who, being duly sworn by the magistrate, deposed that his name was Antonis Puig, and that the Venezuelans above mentioned were sick in one of the departments of the hospital, but were able to make a deposition, being in perfect possession of their senses.
All of which is declared by these officers, the said doctor and magistrate, who signed with me; which I hereby certify.
Immediately, having been previously summoned before the magistrate, and in the presence of the secretary, the Venezuelan prisoner of war, Anselmo Villarreal, accompanied by the consul of the United States, Mr. Enriques C. Hall, and the consul of Venezuela, Don Antonio Francisco Silva, appeared, and the magistrate having informed them all that the object of summoning them was that they might be present at the examination of the Venezuelan prisoners of war who were captured in the eastern department of this island, and having read to the prisoner the deposition made by him in Santiago de Cuba, said Anselmo was asked whether the contents of said deposition were what he had deposed before, and whether he had anything to add or suppress, and whether he promised to speak the truth in everything that might be asked of him. In answer, he said that the deposition read to him was the same that he had made in Cuba; that he had nothing to add or suppress; that he re-affirms every part of its contents; that the signature to it is recognized by him as his signature in his own handwriting; and that he promises to speak the truth in everything that may be asked of [Page 1111] him. Being asked on what day he left his country, he answered, that he left the republic of Venezuela on the 14th of June, in the present year, (1871;) and being asked in what ship he embarked, how the ship was called, in what place he was taken on board, at what place the ship was anchored, and what flag and colors she had, he answered that he embarked on the steamer Virginius, which was at Puerto Cabello, at the wharf or pier, with many others; that the flag which it hoisted was on the mainmast, and was the American flag. Being asked who chartered the ship, who was the person that dispatched the ship, and also who was the consignee in said port of Puerto Cabello, he said that the steamer belonged to the individuals Manuel and Raphael Quesada, natives of the island of Cuba; that they themselves were the persons who dispatched it, and that he did not know who was the consignee of said vessel in Puerto Cabello. Being requested to state how many passengers were on board the Virginius, how many disembarked with him, and how many were the crew of said steamer, he answered that the passengers were as many as disembarked with him, which number he has already stated, and that he did not know how many formed the crew of said vessel, the Virginius. Being asked whether it is true that they disembarked at Bocca de Cabello, on the south of the island, how long the steamer remained in port, where they landed and at what time it wasdone, he answered that it is true that they disembarked at said point, at 2 o’clock in the morning of the 21st of June of this year, (1871,) and that the steamer remained in that port until 8 o’clock in the morning, at which time it completed the landing of its cargo and immediately afterward left. Being asked what day he enlisted himself, who took his name, where was he taken, whether to a house or to the steamer, whether he was registered, and for how long, he answered that he had enlisted on the 8th of June, in the house of Dr. Bermudez, in which the brothers Quesada lived, who enlisted him and took his name; that they allowed him to live where he pleased, and that they did not take his filiacion. Being asked on what day he was made prisoner, he answered that he was captured about the 6th of October last, but hedoes not remember the exact date. Being asked if he knows Gervasio Parra and from where he sailed, he answered that hedoes know him, because he was a companion of his, and one of the expeditionists of Quesada. Being asked if he knew whether the government of his country residing in Puerto Cabello had knowledge of the bandit Quesada, called Manuel, recruiting men to form an expedition to go to the island of Cuba in the Virginius, as wasdone, he answered that he did not know whether the government at Puerto Cabello was acquainted with the facts of the expedition, but that he and all the others embarked themselves publicly at 6 o’clock in the afternoon, and that as Quesada lived, as he has already stated, in the house of Don Pedro Bermudez, who was an employe of the municipal government, he supposes that he (Bermudez) at least ought to have had notice of the said expedition. Being asked how many dollars he received at Puerto Cabello from Quesada, how many during the voyage, and how many afterward in the Manigua, and in what coin, he answered that in Puerto Cabello he received fivedollars in a silver Prussian coin, during the voyage nothing, the same as his companions, and that in the Manigua he did not receive anything either. Being asked to state how many villages he had seen in this island during the time he had remained here, and what he had seen when among the insurgents, and if he had seen any stone houses, he answered that he had not seen any village at all, much less houses made of stone, while he had lived with the insurgents, and that he had only seen bohios, in which they lived. Being asked in how many combats he had found himself engaged, and whether he had captured any convoy to the Spaniards, he answered that he had not found himself in any combat, and that he had not captured any convoy to the Spaniards. Being asked wdio commanded him in the insurrection and what rations they gave him, he answered that he was commanded by the chief, Jesus Perez, for some days, and afterward by the so-called Lieu tenant-Colonel Juan Cinta and afterward by the Commander Matias Vig; that they did not give him anything for rations, and that they sustained themselves with mangoes, guayabas, aguacate, and other fruits. Being asked whether he knows that these chiefs received provisions from Cuba, from Cobre, or from any other town inhabited by the Spaniards, or any correspondence from either of said places, or any other where the Spanish authorities reside, he answered that he did not know anything about that of which he was asked, because he had not seen anything of the kind. Being asked whether it is true that in the camp of Magdalena they ate forty mules, how they ate the flesh, whether they had salt and water, whether the Venezuelans complained, and whether this kind of flesh is eaten in his country, he answered that it was true that they had eaten the forty mules; that they were eaten by the Cubans of Jesus Perez, the flesh being roasted; that the Venezuelans did not eat it in his presence, as they still had some crackers brought from the ship; that in his country it is not customary to eat such flesh, and that they had water. Being asked if he has a list of the persons who came with him, he answered that he has no list of those persons, nordoes he know their names. Being asked how they effected a landing; whether the ship came up close to the land, or whether they made the landing in boats; whether they saw any steamer of any kind when they approached the island, and whether he ever knew at what distance the Spanish troops were from that place, he answered that the landing was made [Page 1112] by the boats; that at sunset they saw a steamer; that hedoes not know to what nation she belonged, but that the Virginius directed her bow toward Jamaica in order to put herself out of the reach of that ship, and that the Spaniards were about three leagues from that place. Being asked if he knows where they bought the arms, ammunitions, saddles, and other articles that were disembarked there, he answered that hedoes not know. Being asked what he lived on during his four days’ journey from Magdalena to Caurbute, he answered that in those four days he ate only one mango; that as they had left him, thinking he was dead, no one took any care of him. Being asked whether the ship had changed her flag, inasmuch as he had stated that she sailed with the American flag, he answered that no change was made; that the flag was always hoisted on the mainmast and that the landing was made with the same on the poop. Being asked whether he has anything more to say, he answered that when he was captured in the camp of Sah Pedro he was made prisoner by a soldier whose name hedoes not know; that he thinks he belonged to the regiment de la Corona: that this soldier presented him to the brigardier campos, and that that officer directed that his sores (ulcers) should be attended to, and left him provisions, telling him to see his companions and induce them also to present themselves, but that this he was unable todo, because he saw only Gervasio Parra, who afterward did present himself with deponent; that Parra brought provisions to the deponent while he staid in that place, until, seeing that no more Venezuelans presented themselves, deponent determined to leave there at once and go to where the Spaniards were; that he has nothing further to say beyond what he has stated, and that all that he has stated is true and in accordance with his promise to speak truly in respect to everything about which he should be interrogated.
At this point the magistrate determined to suspend this examination, to continue if it should be necessary hereafter, signing with the consuls and fiscal and secretary; which I certify.
- ANSELMO VILLARREAL.
The Consul of the United States,
- HENRY C. HALL.
The Consul of Venezuela,
- FRANCISCO ANTONIO SILVA.
- ANTONIO BERTRAN.
- ANTONIO RAMON PARDINA.
Without delay the Venezuelan prisoner of war, Gervasio Parra y Franco, a native of Puerto Cabello in the republic of Venezuela, appeared before said consuls of the United States and of Venezuela, the fiscaland the secretary, and said fiscal having informed him that he was required to testify, and he having promised to speak the truth of everything about which he should be asked, he was asked to state his name, his nationality, his status, and the place from which he came; to which he answered that his name is as it has been already stated, that he is a native of Venezuela, a single man, age thirty years, by profession hotel-keeper, and that he came from the expedition of the so-called General Quesada. Being asked to state the day on which he embarked, at what place, at what time, and in what ship, he stated that he embarked at Puerto Cabello on the 15th day of June of this year (1871) on the ship Virginius; that the ship was near the wharf, and that they embarked upon her from the wharf at 6 o’clock in the morning. Being asked who enlisted him, and at what place they were enlisted, and for what time, he answered that Manuel Quesada enlisted him at his house, that is to say where he lived, in Mangle street; that the number of the house hedoes not remember, but that it belongs to Lerunil Larrache, who is in the real-estate business, and that he was not enlisted for any particular period. Being asked what flag the ship had hoisted when he came on board and when she started on the voyage, whether it was the same flag that she had when they disembarked, he answered that the flag the ship had hoisted when he went on board was the American flag, and that it was the same that she carried during the whole voyage, and the same under which the landing was effected. Being asked in what manner the landing was effected, at what time and what place the ship was brought near the land, and whether the landing was made directly from the ship or by boats, he answered that it was brought near the coast at the place called Bocca de Cabello, and that afterward, by means of boats, the men, mules, arms, and ammunition were disembarked at about 2 o’clock in the morning of the 21st of June, in the present year, (1871.) Being asked whether he knows Anselmo Villarreal, he answered that hedoes know that person, because he was a companion of his in the expedition and a countryman of his besides. Being asked how he came to present himself to the Spaniards, he said that, finding himself sick in the encampment of San Pedro, with some others of the insurgents, the so-called Lieutenant Posada decided that every body should encamp himself as he best could; and, his companion Anselmo being left in said camp, deponent returned next day to see him, when Anselmo spoke to deponent, and told him that the Spaniards had been there and had attended to his sores and given him food and wine, and treated him kindly, and told him that he ought to present himself, which he did to the first Spanish troops that [Page 1113] came near three, or four days afterward; that Anselmo remained where lie was, and that two days afterward deponent was sent by the Spanish commander in La Florida to take some food to Anseliho, which he did, returning next day from the camp La Florida; but that he did not dare todo it oftener, through fear of the mambises, that is to say, the insurgents. Being asked what induced him to come to this island, he said that, not having work in his own country, and the so-called General Quesada having offered him adollar a day if he would come to serve in this island, which, he said was all in favor of the insurgents, and having promised that his wages here would bedoubled, he came. Being asked whether they had fulfilled their promises and what rations he had received in the manaigua of Cuba, he said that in the manaigua he had not received any rations at all and no clothing; and that, far from fulfilling what they had promised, they took him from his home in the night, tied, and brought him to the steamer, because he had told Quesada that it would be no longer convenient for him, deponent, to come to this island with him; that those who took him tied to the Virginius were four officers of the same expedition, and that they knocked at hisdoor at sunset, and ordered him in the name of the authorities to open thedoor. Being asked whether he has previously made a deposition, and if so when and at what place and before whom, he answered that he did not know whether the questions that were put to him in Cuba and afterward in Mansanillo could be considered as depositions or only as mere notes or memorandums, but that he has not signed anything; that he has nothing more to say, and that everything he has said is true. At this point the magistrate determined to suspend this examination, to be continued if it is ever necessary.
Signed with the consuls, the fiscal, and the secretary, which I certify.
- GERVASIO PARRA.
The Consul of the United States,
- HENRY C. HALL.
The Consul of Venezuela,
- FRANCISCO ANTONIO SILVA.
- ANTONIO BERTRAN.
- ANTONIO RAMON PARDINA.
All of which I approve.
In Carlos Rodriguez de Rivera, colonel, provisional chief of staff of the army, and captain-general, certify that the proceeding, signatures, and signs of the Brev. Lieut. Col. Commander Fiscal Don Antonio Bertran y Arnalte, and the brevet commander captain of infantry, Secretary Don Manuel Pardina y Murr, are of the handwriting of the same, and the same that they employ in their official writings.
At Havana, Island of Cuba .
I, the undersigned, vice-consul general of the United States of America at Havana island of Cuba do hereby certify that the foregoing is the true and genuine signature of Lieut. Coln Carlos Rodriguez de Rivera, chief of staff ad interim of his excellency the captain-general and superior military governor of this island, and whose official acts merit full faith and credit.
Acting Vice-Consul General.