Mr. Bassett to Mr. Evarts.
Port an Prince, Hayti, October 23, 1877. (Received Nov. 5.)
Sir: I have the honor to state that the arrival in this harbor, on the 6th instant, of a small steamer, the General Narino, of 59 tons, carrying the flag of the United States of Colombia, rarely seen and hardly known here, having a hole in her bow, and having on board 18 men, all American citizens, created an unusual excitement in government circles among the Cubans and the few Spaniards resident at Port au Prince, inasmuch as she was at once suspected to have been in the service of the Cuban insurgents, to be under pursuit by Spanish war-vessels, and to have sought refuge in this port; that the government officials, alarmed at the contemplation of fresh difficulties with Spain, the Spanish chargé d’affaires ad interim, and the officers of the steamer itself, all speedily addressed themselves to me for information and advice; that I immediately inquired into the matter, looking into the letters of instruction given the officers by a respectable firm in Wilmington, Del., and into other papers and letters in their possession; that I found the steamer not to have been in or destined for the Cuban service; and that by the prompt and careful use of my good offices I soon allayed all excitement about her character and her arrival here.
It appears that Messieurs Pusey & Jones, of Wilmington, Del., recently built for the revenue service of the Colombian Government two small steamers, the General Maza and the General Narino, each of 59 tons burden; that the two steamers left Wilmington September 11, 1877, for Savanilla, via Norfolk, Charleston, Nassau, and Port au Prince, under orders to keep together if possible, and take coal at these intermediate ports; that leaving Nassau, October 3d, instant, the steamers collided on the morning of the 4th instant; that in consequence of this collision the General Maza sank within a few moments thereafter, her crew having been taken on board the General Narino, which, by reason of the injuries sustained from the collision, as well as because it was in her route, came to Port au Prince for repairs and coal.
I need not add that I have cheerfully lent to the officers and crews of the two steamers, who are American citizens, though temporarily in the employ of the Colombian Government, every unofficial service within my power.
I am, &c.,