Mr. Wood to Mr. Seward

No. 185.]

Sir: I herewith enclose copies of notes to the director general of the foreign ministry, of the dates of 25th, and to the minister for foreign affairs on the 28th February, ultimo. The letter to the foreign minister, who is still confined to his house by illness, was written after my interview and a full understanding with Mr. Vedel, the director general of the ministry. I yesterday had an interview with Mr. Quaade, minister without portfolio, and he assures me the fullest investigation shall be had in the matter; that my note of the 28th ultimo had been laid before the minister of justice, and that I might expect a speedy answer. I have to-day had an interview with Mr. Vedel, who submitted to me the contract with the French builder of the Olinde, alias Sphinx, alias Staerkodder, alias Stonewall, and other papers, which show that the ship never belonged to the Danish government. Copies of these will be placed in my hands. While I acquit the Danish government of an intentional breach of neutrality, yet we may suffer just as much as if they had intended it. I await the evidence now being taken, and to be taken, before presenting the whole case.

I have the honor to remain your obedient servant,

BRADFORD R. WOOD, Minister Resident.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

[Page 171]

Mr. Wood to Mr. Blumhe

Sir: From information I have received from Mr. Hansen, the American consul, communicated to him by one of the crew of the Sphinx, or Staerkodder, and now the Stonewall, I learn that when this ship left Copenhagen she had on board another passenger beside De Riviere, a confederate officer, passing under an assumed name, and who took command of the ship after she arrived in French waters, (or when she met another steamer,) or when the Danish captain ceased to command. I am also informed that the French engineers who had brought the ship from France were kept on board this ship (the Staerkodder or whatever name) until the Danish engineers went on board, or until the day before, or a short time before she left Copenhagen; and that she had her guns in position when she left, and coal sufficient for the voyage to Bordeaux. That when she put back to Elsinore she landed De Riviere, and a Mr. Puggard brought her another engineer. After leaving Elsinore, and, as alleged, on account of bad weather, she put into Christians and or some other port in Norway, coaled and remained there four or five days, three of which were pleasant, and went to sea in weather more boisterous than when she entered that port; the ship being a good sea-boat, but leaky. About thirty-six hours after leaving Norway the ship altered her course for Nieu Dieppe, in Holland. One of the engineers remonstrated with the captain, as the weather was fine and the ship had plenty of coal.

At Nieu Dieppe she again took on board De Riviere and another man, (Waddell,) also a confederate officer, known to one of the engineers, and who informed the Danish captain who he was, and who subsequently became the second officer, or an officer on board the Staerkodder after she passed into confederate hands.

On the 21st January the Staerkodder arrived off Quiberon, or in French waters, and came to anchor. Here a man representing himself as the brother of De Riviere came on board and soon after left. The next morning the Staerkodder got under way, and was shortly after met by a ship under English colors, with coal, munitions of war, and a new crew, and soon after meeting with her was met by a French steamer. The Danish captain then informed his crew that the ship was sold, and tried to induce his crew or some of them to enlist and to remain on board, and which they refused to do, and insisted on being put on shore. They were set to work by the Danish captain to coal from the British steamer under the promise of eight francs per man for doing it. One of the engineers protested against this delivery of the ship, and insisted that the captain should go into port and the crew be properly discharged. They were finally landed by the French steamer, leaving the Danish captain on board and the Danish flag still flying.

I would request of your excellency that the Danish captain be examined as to his knowledge or belief as to the truth of the above, and particularly as to his knowledge or belief of the real names, character and business of the passengers who left Copenhagen with him, and of those who came on board in Holland, and what has become of them, and where he last saw them. And, further, that such of the engineers and crew be examined as shall be indicated by Mr. Hansen, the American consul; and, further, that the Mr. or Messrs. Puggard be examined as to their knowledge or belief of the character of the Staerkodder, or any of the particulars in the foregoing statement. And I would further request that inasmuch as Mr. Hansen understands the Danish language he may be present at such examination, and be permitted to suggest such questions as may occur to him bearing on this matter. I need not suggest to your excellency that if the captain and the agent or agents of this ship are innocent, the more searching the investigation the better for them. I do not believe that his Majesty’s government has intentionally departed from the strictest neutrality; but if it should appear that Danish citizens have used the Danish flag for a fraudulent or piratical purpose, I am confident that his Majesty’s government will vindicate its neutrality.

With renewed assurances of high consideration, I remain your excellency’s obedient servant,

B. R. WOOD, Minister Resident.

Mr. Blumhe, Minister for Foreign Affairs.