Minister Conger to the Secretary of State.

No. 1843.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that vessels now arriving at Tongku, Chefoo, and other places very frequently report the presence of floating mines in the ordinary highways of commerce between the northern ports and Shanghai. In a few cases these have been exploded by shooting at them, but in the great majority this has not been possible. Fortunately no serious mishaps have so far resulted from this source of danger; but, to avoid risk, traveling at night has been abandoned in certain localities, and in consequence much time is lost.

It seems to me to be in every way desirable that some effort be made to destroy as many as possible of these mines floating on the high seas; and I venture to suggest that if one or two small naval vessels could be detailed for this purpose the danger to them would not be serious, whereas the benefit resulting might be very great. I am told that British torpedo boats from Wei-hai-wei have done some work of this kind. The need is a pressing one, and I do not see that the question of susceptibilities would be involved. This, however, could easily be ascertained.

I have, etc.,

E. H. Conger.