Mr. Seward to the Marquis de Montholon

Sir: Referring to my note of the 31st of July last, concerning the desired restoration of the steamer Sonora to her owner, Mr. F. Clavel, and thanking you for your reply of the 8th ultimo, I have the honor to enclose, in support of the claim, a copy of the letter of the 18th ultimo, from D. Lanzac, esq., of New Orleans, attorney for Mr. Clavel and of the documents which accompanied it, from which it appears that Mr. Clavel has gone in person to Tampico, taking with him other documents hearing upon his claim to ownership.

The account of the transaction in regard to this vessel derived from the papers which have been laid before you is to the effect that the steamer Sonora was, on the 25th of February, 1864, duly registered in New Orleans, Louisiana, as a vessel belonging to the United States merchant service; that on the 16th day of November, 1864, when on her way from Brazos Santiago to New Orleans, she was forcibly captured by a part of her crew, who ran her into Aransas bay, where she was delivered by these piratical captors to agents of the insurgents, who are reported to have caused a pretended condemnation and sale of the vessel; the proceeds of which pretended sale, being the sum of eleven thousand dollars in gold, are said to have been divided among the capturing pirates, who had shipped on the Sonora as citizens of the United States, upon taking the oath of allegiance as such; that owing to the strict watch kept by the vessels of the United States blockading squadron, the Sonora was prevented from leaving Aransas bay before the 9th of June, 1865, when she sailed for Tampico, flying the insurgent flag.

Under these circumstances this government holds that the before-named steamer is the property of Mr. F. Clavel, and that the parties who navigated her to Tampico are trespassers and intruders, having no rights or authority in her; that the acts by which she came into their custody were piratical and fraudulent. It is therefore hoped that, so far as it might depend upon the agents of the imperial government, every facility will be afforded to Mr. Clavel to regain possession of the vessel.

Accept, sir, a renewed assurance of my high consideration.


The Marquis de Montholon, &c., &c., &c.

Mr. Lanzac to Mr. Hunter

Sir: In reply to yours of 31st July, concerning steamship Sonora, I have to state that Mr. F. Clavel went to Brazos Santiago per schooner Mary Moulis, to have in the port of Matamoras, Mexico, an opportunity more easy than here to go to Tampico, as advised to do by the United States consul general, Mr. Franklin Chase.

Enclosed you will find copies of bill of sale by C. H. Delmater, in New York, to F. Clavel, and copy of register of custom-house in New Orleans.

Mr. F. Clavel took along to Tampico—

1. Log-book of steamer Sonora, brought back by Captain George M. Good-speed.

2. Affidavits of T. Riondel and Thomas Delaney, firemen on board last trip the steamer made, stating the piratical capture.

3. Copies of register and bill of sale.

Since four weeks, about, Captain George M. Goodspeed, now commanding [Page 442] United States quartermaster’s department steamer Ruthven, plying between Galveston and Houston, Texas, is requested to send his affidavit and protest about the piratical seizure of the steamer by most of her own crew, but to this moment I did not receive any. As soon as to hand, I will send it to you.

Two firemen and the cook are in New Orleans at present.

If I could do anything in this matter during the absence of Mr. F. Clavel, you will be so kind as to advise me.

Most respectfully, I have the honor to remain your obedient servant,

D. LANZAC, 76 Orleans street.

W. Hunter, Esq., Department of State, Washington, D.


Know all men by these presents, that I, Cornelius H. Delmater, of the city of New York, owner of the steamer called the Ouachita, of the burden of 79-47/100 tons or thereabouts, for and in consideration of the sum of ten thousand five hundred dollars, lawful money of the United States of America, to me in hand paid before the sealing and delivery of these presents by F. Clavel, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, assign, transfer, and set over unto the said F. Clavel, his executors, administrators and assigns, the said steamer, together with all and singular her masts, yards, sails, rigging, anchors, cables, boats, tackle, apparel, and appurtenances; to have and to hold the said steamer and appurtenances thereunto belonging, unto the said F. Clavel, his heirs, his executors, administrators and assigns, forever.

And I, the said. Cornelius H. Delmater, for myself, my heirs, executors and administrators, do hereby covenant and agree to and with the said F. Clavel, his heirs, his executors, administrators and assigns, that at the execution of these presents I am the true and lawful owner of the said steamer Ouachita, appurtenances, and I now have full right and authority to sell and dispose of the same, freed from and cleared of all claims, incumbrances, or demands whatsoever.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, at the city of New Orleans, the fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three.


Signed, sealed, and delivered in the presence of—


State of New York, City and County of New York, ss:

On the 4th day of September, 1863, before me personally came Cornelius H. Delmater, to me known to be the individual described in and who executed the foregoing instrument, and acknowledged to me that he executed the same.

A. C. WILMARTH, Notary Public, New York, 41 Chambers street.

Custom-house, New Orleans, August 10, 1865.

I do hereby certify that the above is a true copy of the record on file in this office.

S. A. STOCKDALE, Deputy Collector.


In pursuance of an act of Congress of the United States of America, entitled “An act concerning the registering and recording of ships or vessels,” F. Clavel, of New Orleans, State or Louisiana, having taken or subscribed the oath required by the said act, and having sworn that he is a citizen of the United States, and the only owner of the ship or vessel called the Sonora, of New Orleans, whereof J. Hayes is at present master and a citizen of the United States, as he hath sworn, and that the said ship or vessel was formerly the British schooner Ouachita, captured and condemned as a prize, and sold by the United States marshal of the district of New York; and documents on file in this office having certified that the said ship or vessel has one deck, and two masts, and that her length is 116 feet, her breadth 16 feet, her depth 6 feet 6 inches, that she measures 116 45/95 tons, that she is a steamer, has square stem, and round truck; and the said F. Clavel having agreed to the description and admeasurement above specified, and sufficient security having been given according to the said act, the said steamer has been duly registered at the port of New Orleans.

WM. BULLITT, Deputy Naval Officer.

Given under our hand and seal at the port of New Orleans, this 25th day of February, in the year 1864.

JOHN F. COLLINS, Deputy Collector.

I hereby certify the above is a true copy of original on file in this office.

S. A. STOCKDALE, Deputy Collector.