Mr. Bayard to Mr. Becerra.
Washington, April 8, 1885.
Sir: On the evening of the 3d of March, ultimo, you communicated to my predecessor a copy of a telegram received by you from the authorities of Panama, reporting that the steam-tug Game Cock, belonging to the Panama Railroad Company, had been captured by insurgents, and you thereupon asked that the naval commanders of the United States should be suitably instructed in the premises, which, as you were verbally informed at the time, was done.
The Secretary of the Navy now communicates to me a report from [Page 250] the commanding officer of the United States naval vessel Galena, stationed at Colon, from which it is learned that the Game Cock is not owned by citizens of the United States, but is French property belonging to the Panama Canal Company; that at the time of her capture she was doing harbor duty temporarily for the railroad company, and that she was under the flag of the United States of Colombia. I do not understand that such temporary employment in the service of a United States corporation could entail upon this Government airy obligation such as might be incumbent with respect to a vessel owned by our citizens and sailing under our flag.