Mr. Thompson to Mr. Gresham.

No. 338.]

Sir: I now have the honor to transmit the additional report from Consular Agent Grant, mentioned in my No. 335, of January 24, on the wounding and killing of the American sailors at Santa Catharina. From the report the crime appears to be more vicious and heinous than I had [Page 56] at first supposed, and to have been committed entirely without provocation. Mr. Grant also mentions that the witnesses had been threatened and that it was only with much difficulty they could be induced to testify.

I will advise you of the result of the trials.

I have, etc.,

Thomas L. Thompson
[Inclosure in No. 338.]

Mr. Grant to Mr. Thompson.

Sir: Your telegram of the 3d instant was duly received, but as I wished to give you some definite information I delayed answering until I could see the papers relating to the police investigation of the case, in which I have only succeeded to-day.

In addition to my letter of December 17, I found the wounded men in such a bad condition that they could scarcely answer any questions.

The information I could get from them at the time was to the effect that at about 8 o’clock on the evening before they were all four of them together in a street at the end of the town which turns down to the quay, one of them playing an accordion and the others standing around or dancing. There were also some soldiers in the street, who suddenly and without any provocation attacked them and commenced stabbing them with knives. They, feeling themselves wounded, ran down the street and to the wharf, where the English bark Elcho was moored, and took refuge on board her, the soldiers pursuing them and murderously stabbing them all the way to the ship, or very near to her.

Ingvald Ramstad had eight wounds, two of which were mortal; Charles Jonson four, one of them being mortal, and Fred Jensen also four dangerous. Nils Johnson had a number of slight cuts in his back. The clothes of all of them had a number of cuts which did not reach their bodies.

When Fred Jensen got better I questioned him more closely and he stated that on the said evening, when the captain told them to go on board, they had not positively refused to go, but had simply said that they would get on board later with the assistance of the crew of the bark Elcho, on which the captain left them.

They then continued their walk toward the end of the town, and on reaching the street that turns down in the direction of the wharf where the Elcho was lying they went into a tavern and had a glass or two of wine and sat together in conversation for a short time until it got dark. At this time, the owner of the tavern wishing to close for the night, they went out and stayed a short time in the street, one of them playing an accordion and the others listening and talking. None of them were intoxicated. There were also a few soldiers standing about the street, some talking to women at the windows of the houses round about. They (the sailors) not understanding the language of the country, took no notice of the soldiers, but just continued amusing themselves as described. He (Fred Jensen) walked down the street a little way, thinking of going on board, when suddenly he heard the noise of a scuffle, and turning back he saw his companions attacked by a number of soldiers. One of the sailors was lying on the ground and the soldiers striking at him.

[Page 57]

He (Fred Jensen) immediately went to the rescue and assisted his companion to get on his feet, he being in his turn attacked by the soldiers. Feeling himself wounded, he made for the bark Elcho, defending himself as best he could from the soldiers, who pursued him, and took refuge on board the bark, where he found his companions wounded, and all remained until, with the aid of the police, they were removed later on to the hospital.

From all information the seamen were all orderly and well-conducted men, not given to drinking, and were none of them intoxicated, nor did they give the slightest provocation to anybody.

During the police investigation fourteen witnesses have been examined. In the beginning the proceedings were very difficult, as the first who were examined, fearing the revenge of the soldiers on the witnesses who should denounce them, denied all knowledge of the affair. Some of them who had seen it all had, in fact, been threatened with death by the soldiers in case they should make any disclosures. Fortunately indications were discovered which forced some of them to confess that they had witnessed the crime and to name the perpetrators, who are proved to have been Durval Peixoto, Manoel Cerino, Joao Galdino de Oliveira, and Elias Torquato da Roza, all soldiers of the Seventh Battalion of Infantry, stationed at this city, who seem to have been led to the perpetration of this odious crime only by their perverse instincts, as it has been impossible to discover any other motive.

The evidence of a number of the witnesses confirms the statement of the sailors, viz, that they were in the said street, which is called Padre Roma, one playing the accordion and others listening and some dancing, when without any previous altercation or provocation whatever, they were attacked and wounded by the said soldiers, who pursued them as far as the English ship, on board of which they took refuge.

The case is proceeding slowly in spite of all my efforts to get things done more rapidly.

The murderers have not yet been committed for trial, but I believe they will be within the next three or four days.

Fred Jensen is now quite well, and I send him to Rio to day. He will present himself to you and personally state all about the case.

I am, etc.,

Robert Grant,
Consular Agent