« PreviousContinue »
Solomon Mease, North Shields.
I have not as yet been able to procure the attendance before me of William Johnson, the cook of the “Saxon.” I am informed, however, by the second mate, that he, the cook, was not a witness of the shooting of the mate by the officer, Donohoe.
I have, &c. (Signed) E. M. ARCHIBALD.
Inclosure 2 in No. 6.
British Consulate, New York. DAVID AITCHISON, a native of Dundee, Scotland, mariner, of the age of 29 years, at present at New York, maketh oath, and saith as follows:
On the 23rd of August last I shipped at Cape Town on board the barque “ Saxon," of Cape Town, Stephen Sheppard, master, for a voyage to Ascension, Angra Pequena, and Falmouth, for orders. I shipped as second mate; the mate's name was James Gray, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland. We sailed from Cape Town early in September ; I do not remember the day, and proceeded to Ascension. We carried cattle and forage, being partly in ballast. We landed the cattle at Ascension, where we remained seven days, and then proceeded to Angra Pequena, on the west coast of Africa, where we arrived about the middle of October. About the 23rd of October we began to take in cargo. We were delayed in loading owing to the absence of the agent, Captain Boyce, who had gone down to leeward. We laded 156 bales of wool and hides ; 30 of the bales were hides. We were five days in loading. The wool and hides were lying on the shore, and were brought off in a large flat-bottomed boat. On the day that the loading of the “Saxon” was completed, the United States' steam ship “ Vanderbilt” arsived at Angra Pequena, and anchored about a mile or a mile and a half from us. She sent a boat with two officers and a crew on board of the “Saxon.” One of the officers was named Donohoe ; he was an acting master's mate. The officer in charge of the boarding party had some conversation with Captain Sheppard, and had the after-hatch taken off, and looked at the cargo. He demanded the ship's papers, which were handed to him by Captain Sheppard, who asked to have them back, as he was loaded and ready for sea. The officer refused to return them, and said he would take them on board the “ Vanderbilt.” The officer then returned with the boat's crew to the “ Vanderbilt,” taking the papers, and leaving on board the “Saxon” the officer Donohoe above mentioned, in charge of the “Saxon." We then went to dinner in the cabin of the “Saxon ;" that is, Captain Sheppard, the mate James Gray, the officer Donohoe, and myself. Donohoe well knew Gray to be the mate of the barque. Late in the afternoon three boats' crews from the “Vanderbilt" came on board of us, being in all about fifty men, all armed. The men all had a glass of grog on board the “ Saxon,” being wet in coming on board. The officer in charge of the whole party was a Lieutenant Keefe ; he said his orders were to get the barque under weigh, and bring her down the lagoon.
By this time the “ Vanderbilt” sighted a barque outside, and proceeded to sea after her. The “ Saxon” was then got under weigh, and proceeded a short way down the lagoon, and then anchored again. Captain Sheppard asked Mr. Keefe for permission to send on shore some salt beef, pork, and bread for six men, who had been assisting in loading the “ Saxon,” until a supply should come for them from Cape Town. Lieutenant Keefe granted permission, and a signal being made for the six men, they came off in their boat. They were men who carried on the business of digging guano, and sealing, and had been for eight months and upwards at that and other neighbouring places on the coast, under charge of Captain Boyce. When the men came on board they went to get their provisions out of the cask, under the superintendance of the master and mate of the “ Saxon.” There was some little confusion, and Lieutenant Keefe told Captain Sheppard that the men had got enough provisions, and ordered Captain Sheppard and the mate Gray to go into the cabin. Mr. Keefe and the Captain proceeded aft together, and went up the steps of the poop, the mate following close after them. The Captain went down the companion way into the cabin, and as the mate went up the steps of the poop, and was going aft towards the companion way, the officer Donohoe, above-mentioned, who was stationed at the break of the poop, called him back, and took hold of him, trying to stop him. A stout man, belonging to the “Vanderbilt," who stood behind mate to push him forward. The mate being thus pushed was falling forward, down the poop steps, when Donohoe fired at him with a revolver, and shot him,—the ball entering the mate's head below the right ear. The mate fell on the deck apparently dead. I was standing near the mainmast at the time of the occurrence, and saw all that passed. I was about six or eight yards distant. On seeing Gray fall I immediately went to him, and lifted up his head. He never spoke, and must have been dead within half a minute after falling. As I took the mate's head on my knee, I heard Donohoe say, “ We must obey orders," or," he must obey orders,”—I am not sure which. About a minute after- · wards he added, “Well, it is an accident, my revolver was cocked.” On hearing the report of the revolver Captain Sheppard came running out of the cabin, and saw Gray lying on the deck, and said to me, “Is Gray dead ?" I replied, “ Yes, Sir.” He said, "Poor Gray, he has been with me for six years.” Lieutenant Keefe, who was standing on the poop, called out, “Is that man dead ?” Several of us replied “Yes." He said
Then put him down the after-hold, and put the hatches on.” The body was put down there accordingly. When Mr. Donohoe stopped the mate, the mate said he belonged aft, and he wanted to go to his cabin. When the revolver was fired, all the men of the “Vanderbilt,” who were on board, drew their cutlasses, which frightened the six men who had come from the shore, and they thereupon rushed over the vessel's side into their boat and went ashore.
The whole of the men from the “ Vanderbilt” remained on board the “ Saxon" all night and until the afternoon of the next day, when the “ Vanderbilt” returned from sea. We had our flag half-mast. A boat was sent from the “ Saxon” on board the “ Vanderbilt,” to tell them of the mate's having been shot. On the same evening the corpse was buried on the shore. That night the prize-crew came on board, consisting of a Captain Keyser and fifteen hands, and the next day the "Saxon” was got under weigh, and proceeded to New York. Captain Sheppard, and ten of the crew, were landed at Angra Pequena. Myself and the cook, William Johnson, a coloured man, were brought on to New York. I assisted in working the barque over, under the orders of the PrizeMaster. I had charge of a watch. We arrived at New York on the 22nd ultimo. I was detained one day on board of the guard ship, and for two days in the House of Detention, and gave my evidence before the Prize Commissioners. I told them about the shooting of the mate, but they did not take down my evidence on that point.
. (Signed) DAVID AITCHISON. Sworn by the said David Aitchison at the British Consulate, New York, this 4th day of January, A.D., 1864, before me.
(Signed) E. M. ARCHIBALD,
Her Britannic Majesty's Consul.
Earl Russell to Lord Lyons. My Lord,
Foreign Office, January 21, 1864. THE fact of the capture of the British vessel “ Saxon,” at Angra Pequena, on the Coast of Africa, by the United States' steamer-of-war “Vanderbilt," will have been made known to your Lordship by the arrival of that vessel at New York, in charge of a prize crew. I inclose, for your information, copies of the papers relating to the transaction which have been transmitted to this office from various quarters.
I should inform you that Angra Pequena is not a possession of the British Crown, though situated at no great distance from Her Majesty's possessions on that coast.
The Law Officers have not yet sufficient information before them to enable them to form a definitive opinion on the subject, and you will see by the inclosed copy of a letter which has been addressed by my direction to the Admiralty, to the Colonial Office, and to Messrs. Sinclair, Hamilton, and Co., that I am endeavouring to obtain it for them.
In the meantime, however, I have to instruct your Lordship to call the attention of the Government of the United States to the apparently extraordinary circumstance of the capture at so great a distance from American waters of a British colonial vessel, which was certainly not exposed to the suspicion of contemplating any breach of blockade, or, so far as appears, of carrying contraband of war to the enemies of the United States; and your Lordship will request the Government of the United States either to direct the immediate release of the “Saxon," with proper compensation to the owners, or at least to explain the ground on which her seizure and detention are supposed to be justified.
I received the day before yesterday from Mr. Consul Archibald a copy of the deposition which has been communicated to your Lordship respecting the murder of the mate of the “ Saxon," at the time of her capture by one of the officers of the “ Vanderbilt," and as soon as I have been able to ascertain the view taken by the Law Officers of the transaction, I shall furnish your Lordship with such special instructions on that feature in the case as they may recommend.
I am, &c. . .
Mr. Hammond to the Secretary to the Admiralty.*
Foreign Office, January 21, 1861. I AM directed by Earl Russell to request that you will acquaint the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that his Lordship has been in communication with the Law Officers of the Crown on the subject of the capture, at Angra Pequena, on the coast of Africa, of the British vessel "Saxon," by the United States' steamer “Vanderbilt," to
22nd ultimo, which the attention of this Office was called by your letter of the 24th ultimo, and by similar communications received from other quarters.
4th instant, The Law Officers have, however, stated to Lord Russell, that they cannot finally advise his Lordship as to the course which should be taken in the matter, without having before them a fuller communication of facts; and they desire particularly to be informed, when, and by what means, and for what consideration, or under what arrangements, the “ Saxon” became interested or concerned in the shipment or carriage of the wool taken by the “ Alabama," in the “Sea Bride,”+ which had been deposited at Angra Pequena; and whether the coals, stated to have been seized by the “ Vanderbilt,” were, at the time of seizure, on ship-board or on land, and whether they had been conveyed or had been deposited in the place where they were found by the “Saxon” for any purpose connected with the supply of the “ Alabama.”
I am to request that you will move the Lords Commisioners of the Admiralty to take such steps as they may judge most calculated to] enable his Lordship to lay before the Law Officers the information desired by them on the several points to which I have adverted.
I am, &c.
The Secretary to the Admiralty to Mr. Hammond.—(Received January 23.)
Admiralty, January 22, 1864. WITH reference to your letter of yesterday, I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to state, for the information of Earl Russell, that RearAdmiral Sir Baldwin Walker will be called upon to report on the points therein mentioned with regard to the case of the British vessel“ Saxon," captured at Angra Pequena by the United States' steamer “ Vanderbilt.”
My Lords would suggest that information on this subject might also be obtained from the Governor of the Cape of Good Hope.
I am, &c. . (Signed) C. PAGET..
Admiralty, January 25, 1864. I AM commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to send you herewith, for the information of Earl Russell, and with reference to previous correspondence, a
* A similar letter was sent to Colonial Office and Messrs. Sinclair, Hamilton, and Co.
+ For the “Sea Bride," read the “Tuscaloosa."
copy of a letter, dated the 17th ultimo, from Rear-Admiral Sir Baldwin W. Walker, Bart., respecting the seizure of the British colonial vessel “Saxon," at Angra Pequena, by the United States ship-of-war “ Vanderbilt,” together with copies of the statements of the Master and crew of the “ Saxon” of the circumstances attending the seizure.
I am, &c. (Signed) W. G. ROMAINE.
· Inclosure 1 in No. 10. Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker to the Secretary to the Admiralty. Sir,
“Narcissus," Simon's Bay, December 17, 1863.. REFERRING to my letter, dated the 17th ultimo, reporting the seizure of the British colonial vessel “Saxon," on the 30th October last, by the United States' shipof-war “ Vanderbilt,” at Angra Pequena, on the south-west coast of Africa, I beg to inclose, for their Lordships' information, the statements of the Master and crew of the “ Saxon," who have since returned to Cape Town, containing full particulars of the proceedings of the American officers and of the death of the chief mate of the “ Saxon," who was shot by one of them after the seizure of the vessel.
It is alleged that Penguin Island, at Angra Pequena, near to which the “ Saxon” was lying, is British territory. I find, on inquiry, it was annexed to this colony in August, 1861, together with Ichabo and others, as a guano island, by a proclamation of Sir George Grey, subject to the approval or disapproval of Her Majesty's Government, but it does not appear to have been confirmed or noticed in any way from home.
I have, &c. (Signed)
B. W. WALKER.
Inclosure 2 in No. 10.
Statement of the Master of the “ Saxon.” I SAILED from Ascension on the 26th September, and arrived at Angra Pequena on the 16th October.
On the 27th I commenced taking in cargo-skins and wool. On October 30th, at 11 A.M., we finished loading. The carpenter then commenced to batten down the hatches, the men being employed in clearing decks, and securing spars, and getting ready for sea.
About 1, P.M. we saw a steamer rounding Angra Point, which proved to be the Federal man-of-war “ Vanderbilt.” She came to an anchor abreast of Penguin Island, lowered a boat, and sent it on board the “ Saxon," with two officers and a boat's crew, all armed. At 1.30 P.M., she boarded us, and the officer asked where I was from. I told him from Ascension.
He then asked how long I had been at Angra Pequena ; and I told him. He also asked what my cargo consisted of; and I told him.
He then requested me to show him my papers. I asked what authority he had to look at my papers. He said Captain Baldwin had sent him to look at the ship's papers ; and added, “ It is of no use, Captain, I must see your papers." I then showed him the ship's papers. He read them and said, “Skins and wool; that will do," and went on deck, taking the papers with him.
He looked down the hold, and asked me if I knew where the skins and wool came from. I told him that all I knew about it was, that I had come there to take it in, He then told me he must take my papers to Captain Baldwin, and would leave an officer on board to make a signal in case I should attempt to move the ship. I told him I was ready for sea, and would go, papers or no papers, and take with me the officer he might leave.
He then said I had better try it, as the steamer would go faster than we could. He hen left the ship, leaving a junior officer on board. At the same time that the officer left my ship, a second boat, with another officer and crew, all armed, put off from the steamer, They came on board about 2,30 P.M., and took charge, placing armed men all round the ship, and driving my crew below.
* The officer never reported to me that he had come to take charge, until I went to him and asked him what he had come to do. His answer was, “Who are you, sir ?" I told him that I was the Master of the ship. He replied, “ You are now no more Master of this vessel, and I will thank you to go below, and give no more orders, sir ; further, I will not allow you to speak to any of the ship's company. I told him he might as well have behaved as a gentleman, and have come to me and told me what his business was, instead of taking charge without acquainting me with his intention, and before Captain Baldwin had seen my papers. He then ordered me below. About 4 P.M., the island men that were helping to load the ship, came alongside in a boat with some fish, and asked for some meat and bread, as they had had nothing to eat since breakfast. I told my chief officer he might give them some, but that he must first ask the officer in charge of the ship. He did so; and the officer in the first instance said they might have some, but afterwards changed his mind, and with impious imprecations said they should not have a bit. I then said to the officer, “ Let us go forward and give them some.” He said, “ No, you shall not go forward, and they shall not have anything from the ship.” I then said, “ They shall have something to eat," and was going forward when the officer ordered his men to stop me, and take me below, which they did, the officer at the same time saying, “My fine fellow, if you don't go below, I will very soon put you where the dogs wont bark at you.” I had been below about nine or ten minutes, with a sentry over me, when I heard the report of a pistol. I instantly rushed on deck, and was told they had shot the mate. I went to support the mate in my arms. He never moved or spoke. He was shot dead. I said to the officer in charge, “ Why have you shot my mate ?" His reply was, “ It was an accident." I then asked the junior officer, who shot the mate, and why he did it? He said,“ Poor fellow, I am sorry for him ; but I must obey orders.” They then hove up the anchor, and dropped the “Šaxon" abreast of Penguin Island.
The “ Vanderbilt,” at this time was in chase of another vessel that hove in sight. She returned next morning. Captain Baldwin sent for me on board the “ Vanderbilt.” Upon my going on board, Captain Baldwin addressed me thus :“You are Captain Sheppard, of the barque 'Saxon?” “Yes, sir," I replied. “Well, Captain," he continued, “I am very sorry for you, but your papers are not satisfactory to me, and I must make a prize of the “Saxon,' and send her to the prize authorities at New York. We know that it is the “Tuscaloosa's' cargo that you have on board. It was brought here by the Confederates, and it is American property. That is the ground upon which I make a prize of your ship. I must do my duty to my country, and protect American property." • The “ Vanderbilt” steamed into Penguin Island when I was on board of her, and commenced taking in coals that was on shore there. I told Captain Baldwin, the island was British territory. He replied, “I cannot help it; I want coal, and must have it.” Captain Baldwin had a coffin made for Mr. Gray, the chief officer, and he was buried on the mainland on the 31st October, by the “ Vanderbilt's” men. They would not allow of any of the ship's company, except myself, to follow him. On the 1st November they landed me and my crew on the mainland, with a little bread and water, not sufficient for one day, and our personal effects.
We walked along the coast to the shore opposite Halifax Island, to which we crossed in a boat. We arrived in the evening. On November 3rd, the schooner “ Isabel,” of Cape Town, Captain Roe, came in and took us on board. We proceeded to Ichaboe, and then to Hottentots' Bay, where we arrived on 10th November. On November 13th, we went on board the “ Lord of the Isles," bound to Table Bay, where we arrived on 21st November.
Inclosure 3 in No. 10.
Cape Town, November 23, 1863. ABOUT 11 A.M. on the 31st October, while lying at anchor at Angra Pequena, we saw a large steamer, which afterwards turned out to be the “ Vanderbilt,” rounding the point. She dropped anchor, and lowered a boat, which pulled for us and boarded us. The officer, after looking at the ship’s papers, said he would take them on board the “ Vanderbilt," which he did, after leaving a junior officer in charge, with orders not to allow the anchor to be weighed. Captain Sheppard told him that he was quite ready for sea, and he intended getting under weigh immediately after dinner. The officer said he could not, as he had his papers. Captain Sheppard said, he would go, papers or not, The officer then went on board the “ Vanderbilt," but returned almost immediately with another boat's crew, when he took charge.