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(Inclosure 17 in No. 17.)

Commander McKillop to Mr. Nesbitt.

BULLDOG, Nassau, June 8, 1862. Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of a communication from his excellency the

governor, dated the 4th instant, relative to the British steamer Oreto. In my [21] letter *of the 17th instant I made his excellency aware of the warlike character

of that vessel, and I am of opinion that she is not capable of taking in any cargo, having no stowage. Should the Oreto take;in guns or ammunition, I shall consider it my duty to seize her.

I have, &c., (Signed)


(Inclosure 18 in No. 17.||

Mr. Whiting to Governor Bagley.



June 12, 1862. Sir: I had the honor, some days since, to address your excellency on the subject of the steamer Oreto, now lying in this port, protesting against her operations, and expressing an humble opinion that, in this vessel's case, Her Majesty's proclamation of 13th May was being violated. Your excellency replied that, after an investigation, " there was found nothing in the equipment or condition of the Oreto or her crew which conld disentitle her to the ordinary hospitalities of the port.”.

Two days thereafter the Oreto came down from Cochrane's Anchorage, in charge of an otficer of Her Majesty's ship Bulldog, and was said to have been seized, and two days after that she is reported and published as having been released.

May I ask your excellency to furnish me with the official report of these proceedings ? I feel it my duty again to call your excellency's attention to this vessel. One of her officers testifies to her warlike character and equipment, with everything that marks a vessel of war-ports, magazines, shot-lockers, &c. He avers that shells were transshipped from the steamer Hero to the Oreto at Cochrane's Anchorage, an act which I should suppose would warrant her seizure and detention. The steamer Melita, from England, landed here last Sunday Captain Semmes and officers of the pirate Sumter, and I have no doubt that they are here to join the Oreto, and pursue their maritime depredations.

i solemnly appeal to your excellency, by the blood of my countrymen daily wasted in the strife with foul rebellion, not to grant immunity to those who seek, for base and selfish purposes, to prolong the fearful fratricidal war.

If this vessel (the Oreto) is permitted to go forth upon her mad career of destruction, I can but believe that the colonial government of the Bahamas will be held responsible for a repetition of those piratical acts which have covered the names of the Sumter and her crew with merited obloquy for all future time.

I have, &c., (Signed)


(Inclosure 19 in No. 17.)

Mr. Nesbitt to Mr. Whiting.


Nassau, June 13, 1862. Sir: The governor desires me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of yesterday

In reply to your request to be furnished with an official report of proceedings connected with the supposed seizure and release of the Oreto, his excellency regrets tha it is not competent for him to comply with it.

His excellency has been assured by the agents of the Oreto that it is their intention to clear her in ballast for Havana ; and he has received from the treasurer (as collector of the colonial customs) application to give her this clearance, an application to which. he has accorded his assent.

His excellency has, therefore, no right to assume that she is now equipping hersel or will leave this port equipped, as a privateer.

While his excellency is bound by his instructions to observe the strictest neu[22] trality *between the United States and the Confederate States of North America,

he has no power whatever to act on general suspicion or hearsay. He is bound to give the twenty-four hours' notice to any known privateer or man-of-war belonging to either of the belligerent states which may put into this port for indispensable supplies; but he is not bound to detain or obstruct any vessels professing to be engaged on a commercial voyage, unless he has evidence strong enough to satisfy the court of admiralty that she is in fact a belligerent vessel, proceeding on a belligerent mission.

Not having any proof which would warrant the condemnation of the Oreto by a competent court of jurisdiction, or which would connect her with any privateering enterprise, his excellency feels that it is as yet out of his power to interfere with this vessel or prevent her presumably peaceful and innocent voyage to Havana.

I have, &c.,


Colonial Secretary.


mander Hickles.

(Inclosure 20 in No. 17.) Commander Hickley to Governor Bayley.

GREYHOUND, Nassau, June 13, 1862. SIR: After my conversation with yourself and the attorney general on the 9th instant,

relative to the Oreto taking in warlike stores for the purpose of becoming Reporta. Come an armed vessel, and perceiving lighters alongside her, both that afternoon

and the following morning, and taking into consideration her character, as also Commander McKillop's letters on her account, and the previons steps taken, I proceeded on board of the Oreto, to examine her, with competent surveying officers, and make the following report to you for the final decision of the law-officers on that report, as the equipping (as I consider it so) was a want of respect to, and a violation of, the laws laid down for the guidance of the harbor, which I, as senior naval officer present, thonght it my duty to represent at once to your excellency, that you should not be ignorant of what was taking place in a place under your government. She appeared to be discharging cargo when I boarded her, and this cargo, to all appearance, shells; and I was proceeding to go on with the examination when the consignee (Mr. Harris) and a revenue offi. cer told me that she (the Oreto) had cleared in ballast for the Havana, and was to sail shortly, (I understood the next day,) and that due notice had been given at the enstom-house. On this I considered interference unnecessary on my part, and came immediately with the consignee to you to report what had taken place, and the determined destination of the Oreto, but with the understanding that, owing to the suspicions already cast on the vessel, I was to again visit her before her leaving.' This took place on the 10th, and the 11th and 12th passed, and the Oreto did not sail, which again aroused my suspicions that the vessel was not acting in good faith, and that she was still equipping, or making very definite arrangements for so doing.

This morning, at 6.30 a. m. I was informed by Mr. Harris that the Oreto was to sail immediately, at 8 a. m.; and feeling it a bounden duty to ascertain her character before her leaving, to make my report to your excellency, that by so doing I might have the law-officers' opinion as to the legality of her sailing before she quitted the port.

I bave the honor to inclose my report for your excellency's information, for the opinion of the attorney general and Queen's advocate, that my course may be clear as to my dealing with the Oreto, and whether, under the circumstances detailed therein, she is entitled to go her way on the high seas under British colors.

I have, &c.,


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Commander Hickley and officers of the Greyhound to Gorernor Bayley.


Bahamas, June 13, 1862. Sir: On going on board the Oreto this morning the captain informed me that the crew had refused to get the anchor up until they could be certain as to where the ship was going, as they did not know what might become of them after leaving port, and that the Oreto was a suspicious vessel. I then proceeded round the decks to note her fittings, &c., and to ascertain whether she had any warlike stores on board for her own equipment, aud I have the honor to make the following report:

That the Oreto is in every respect fitted as a man-of-war, on the principle of the dispatch gun-vessels in Her Majesty's naval service.

That she has a crew of fifty men, and is capable of carrying two pivot guus amid ships and four broadside both forward and aft, the ports being made to "ship and un ship,” port-bars, breeching, side tackle, bolts, &c.

That she has shell-rooms, a magazine and light-rooms, and “handing-scuttles" for handing powder out of the magazine, as fitted in the naval service, and shot-boxes for Armstrong shot, or shot similar to them. Round the upper-deck she has five boats, (! should say,) a ten-oared cutter, an eight-oared cutter, two gigs, and a jolly-boat, and davits for hoisting them up, her accommodation being in no respeet different from her similar class of vessels in the royal naval service.

And on my asking the captain of the Oreto, before my own officers and three of his own, whether she had left Liverpool fitted in all respects as she was at present, his answer was, “ Yes, in all respects," and " that no addition or alteration had been made whatever."

In witness of this report, and ready to testify to its correctness, we the undersigned aftix our names.

H. D. HICKLEY, Commander.
JNO. L. GILBY, Lieutenant.
C. S. CARDALE, Lieutenant.
B. B. STUART, Master.
P. O. M. PRESGRAVE, Assistant Paymaster.
E. B. GIDLEY, Gunner.
E. EDWARDS, Carpenter.
W. ROSKILLY, Gunner's Mate.
JOHN LEWARN, Seaman Gunner.

(Inclosure 22 in No. 17.)

Opinion of the attorney general, Nassau. I have perused the accompanying letter of Commander Hickley, of Her Majesty's sbip Greyhound, with the report of himself and officers on the state of the British steamship Oreto, and am of opinion that there is nothing contained in those documents which would justify the detention of the vessel. (Signed)

G. C. ANDERSON. ('ILAMPERS, June 13, 1862.

(Inclosure 23 in No. 17.)

Commander Hickley to Governor Bayley.

GREYHOUND, Vassau, June, 1802. Sir: The boatswain and some of the crew of the British screw-steamer Oreto having

come on board the Greyhound this morning, and made a variety of statements [24] publicly * before me to her prejudice as a legal trader on her first leaving, and

since having left Liverpool, and that they had now left the Oreto, as they could hot ascertain her destination, although she has cleared from this port for the Ilavana some days since; that she was a suspicious vessel, and shipping, or attempting to ship, another crew; these circumstances, her long detention in this port, her character, her fittings, convinced as I am also that during her stay in the port arrangements have been made for arming her outside, with the previous correspondence on her account, and the suspicions already cast on her, her evident equipment for war purposes, although not at present armed, or to my knowledge having any arms on board, and my conviction, as also that of my officers and men that have been on board her, that she is built intently for a war-vessel and not for a merchant-ship, make it incumbent on me to seize the Oreto, as a vessel that can be no more considered as a free-trader, but that she is, on the contrary, calculated to be turned into a formidable vessel of war in twenty-four hours; and that this, I am convinced, will be the case if she is permitted to leave Nassau.

And therefore, in her present state, a vessel under'British colors sailing from hence in such an equipped state to a professional eye, that I consider it would be a downright neglect of duty on my part to permit her proceeding to sea, without again urging most strongly on your excellency the expediency of taking charge of her as an illegally. equipped British vessel, as in my professional capacity, as also in the opinion of my officers, it is impossible to consider her as any other, she being a bona fide vessel of war on oar royal naval principle.

H. Ex. 282-17


On my former communication to your excellency, of the 13th June, I have the Crown lawyer's opinion, and I again bring the facts of the broadly suspicious character of the Oreto before you, with the addition of those of her old crew having left her, and for why? as likewise her entering, or attempting to enter, a new crew, for your consideration and the law-officers of the Crown; and, failing their sanction to take charge of the Oreto, (and it is improbable, if pot impossible, that they can know a war-vessels' equipment as well as myself and officers,) I have to suggest that I should forth with send ber to the commodore, or commander-in-chief, on my own professional responsibility; as allowing such a vessel as the Oreto to pass to sea as a British merchant-vessel and a peaceful trader would compromise my convictions so entirely as to be a neglect of duty, as senior naval officer here present, and certainly not doing my duty in co-operating with your excellency for the protection of the larbor of Nassau.

I have, &c.,


[Inclosure 24 in No. 17.)

Gorernor Bayley to Commander Hickley.

GOVERNMENT HOUSE, Nassau, June 16, 1862. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 15th June.

I lost no time in referring it to the Queen's advocate ; and the opinion of that functionary I have now the honor to transmit to you.

Before I proceed to make any further comments on either of these documents, it is necessary that I should premise that, as yet, I am ignorant whether you as senior naval officer on the station consider that in any case affecting the police of the harbor, and the status of ships resorting to it, you ought to act in concert with me, or independently of me. It is only on the assumption that the former is the line prescribed that the communication of my opinion on any such subject can be either necessary or effective.

Assuming, then, that your movements are to be influenced by my instructions, I would state my general concurrence with the opinion of the attorney general and Queen's advocate. I do not consider that suspicion alone would justify the seizure of the Oreto, and the case as stated by yourself hardly seems to go beyond suspicion.

And the suspicion itself attaches not to any acts done by the Oreto, but only to the intention of her equipment. Iudeed, the testimony of the crew I understand to amount to no more than an expression of suspicion. Now, I do not consider that I have any legal authority to seize a vessel merely on the suspicion of her intentions. It seems to me that such an act on my part would violate the hospitalities of the harbor, and be a precedent for grave injustice on future occasions. The Oreto, as you are aware, bas, in deference to your remonstrances and my orders,

discharged her cargo of shell, shot, and ammunition, and is ready to clear in [25] *ballast. She has thus divested herself of the character of an armed ressel

leaving this port for belligerent purposes. I do not think it consistent with law or public policy that she should now be seized on the hypothesis that she is clearing out for the purpose of arning herself as a vessel of war beyond the limits of the harbor. We have done our duty in seeing that she does not leave the harbor equipped and prepared to act offensively against one of two belligerent nations, witli each of whom Great Britain is at peace.

And if she bas still any such intention-an intention which cannot be fulfilled within the harbor-1 think this could be effectually thwarted by giving instructions that the vessels which are supposed to be freighted with her arms, and to be prepared to go out with her, should not leave the harbor within forty-eight hours after the Oreto has left it.

If, however, you still retain the firm conviction not only that she is about to arm as a vessel of war, but also that she is already partially equipped as one, and moreover that she is engaged to act against a belligerent state which is at peace with Great Britain, and that she has enlisted a crew for that object, your proper conrse undonbtedly is, on seizing the Oreto, to submit the question of her condemnation to the vice-admiralty court of this colony.

To remove her to Bermuda, Halifax, or any other colony, for the purpose of having her condemned there, would be a course not only at variance with prescriptive usage. but-as I cannot help thinking- open to censure as implying an unmerited imputation on the fairness and competency of the court of this colony. It is a course which I cannot myself recommend or sanction, and which it adopted by you must be adopter on your own responsibility.

I am assuming all along that you are desirous of acting in concert with me in this matter. If, however, you deem that the whole subject is one not only of such gravity, but one also involving suchi minute professional knowledge that the opinion of an experienced naval mau ought to outweigh the opinion of any civilian, and if your instructions direct you in extreme cases to act independently of the civil government of any colony wherein you may be stationed, I can only express my hope that any course which you may resolve on taking will be followed by results as worthy of your professional merits as their attainment is creditable to your professional zeal.

I have, &c.,


(Inclosure 25 in No. 17.)

Opinion of the attorney-general, Nassau. The report of Commander Hickley does not appear to me to carry the case against the Oreto further than shown in the previous reports of himself and Commander Mekillop, and I contend that no case has as yet been made out for the seizure of that Vessel under the foreign-enlistment act.

With respect to the suggestion in the concluding part of Commander Hickley's letter I have to remark that if the vessel is liable to seizure at all it must be under the provisions of the foretgn-enlistment act, and if so seized the question of her liability may as readily and efficiently be decided in the court of vice-admiralty of this colony as before any tribunal in Her Majesty's colonial possessions, and consequently that no necessity exists, nor do I think that any excuse can be made for sending her, as suggested by Commander Hickley, to the commodore or commander-in-chief who, I presume, are either at Bermuda or Halifax; while on the other hand, if I am correct in the view I have taken of her non-liability to seizure, the reasons against sending her hence will, of course, be far more powerfu); and therefore, on either view of the case, I advise his excellency to withhold his sanction from the course of action suggested. (Signed)


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Commander Hickley to Governor Bayley.

GREYHOUND, Nassau, June 16, 1862. Sir: In answer to your letter of to-day, and with reference to its third paragraph and your excellency's question therein, viz, “ I am ignorant whether you, a senior naval officer on the station, consider that in any case affecting the police of the harbor and the status of ships resorting to it you ought to act in concert with me or independent of me!" my answer is, I am certainly here to act in concert with your excellency on all occasious intluencing Her Majesty's service in sustaining the execution of the laws when called upon by you officially to do so. Independent in my action in my official capacity afloat, carrying out such services co-operating with you, as senior naval officer in the harbor, to the best of my judgment for due respect being paid to it, and using my discretion as a seaman in things pertaining to my profession, submitting what may be necessary for Her Majesty's service to you, and in the case of prompt action being required among the shipping, using my own discretion, and in such cases as the Oreto acquainting you immediately.

On the Oreto I have repeated my professional opinion, as also that of my officers, and I still have to express my conviction that she is a vessel of war that can be equipped in twenty-four hours for battle, and that she is now about going out of the harbor as nearly equipped as a vessel of war can be without guns, arms, and ammunition.

But since it is not sanctioned by the law-officers of the Crown in Nassau to detain the Oreto on my reports, and I am told by your excellency that you do not think it consistent with law or public policy that she should be seized on the hypothesis that she is clearing out for tho purpose of arming herself as a vessel of war beyond the limits of the harbor, taking into consideration her equipment as she now is, and my decided statenient as to the character, build, fittings, &c., for your information, I have the honor to report that I should not like to take on my own responsibility the further detention of the Oreto for the purpose of placing her in the admiralty court here, it being contrary to the law-officers' opinion; nor should I desire to adopt the course of sending her to the commander-in-chief against your excellencey's wishes. I will therefore remove the officers and men in charge of the Oreto, and as a final decision las been come to, offer no further obstacle to her sailing.

I hare, &c.,


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