The Trent affair, November 8, 1861.

Report of Captain Wilkes, U. S. Navy, of capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, Confederate commissioners on board the British mail steamer Trent, with enclosures.

U. S. S. SAN JACINTO, November 15, 1861.

        SIR: I have written to you relative to the movements of this ship from Cienfuegos, on the south coast of Cuba.
        There I learned that Messrs. Slidell and Mason had landed on Cuba, and had reached the Havana from Charleston. I took in some 60 tons of coal and left with all dispatch on the 26th October to intercept the return of the Theodora, but on my arrival at The Havannah on the 31st I found she had departed on her return, and that Messrs. Slidell and Mason, with their secretaries and families, were there and would depart on the 7th of the month in the English steamer Trent for St. Thomas, on their way to England.
        I made up my mind to fill up with coal and leave the port as soon as possible, to await at a suitable position on the route of the steamer to St. Thomas to intercept her and take them out.
        On the afternoon of the 2d I left The Havannah, in continuation of my cruise after the Sumter on the north side of Cuba. The next day, when about to board a French brig, she ran into us on the starboard side at the main chains and carried away her bowsprit and foretopmast, and suffered other damages. I inclose you herewith the reports of the officers who witnessed the accident. I do not feel that any blame is due to the officer in charge of this ship at the time the ship was run into, and the brig was so close when it was seen probable she would do so that even with the power of steam, lying motionless as we were, we could not avoid it; it seemed as if designed.
        I at once took her in tow, and put an officer on board with a party to repair her damages. This was effected before night, but I kept her in tow till we were up with The Havannah and ran within about 8 miles of the light, the wind blowing directly fair for her to reach port.
        I then went over to Key West in hopes of finding the Powhatan or some other steamer to accompany me to the Bahama Channel, to make it impossible for the steamer in which Messrs. Slidell and Mason were to embark to escape either in the night or day. The Powhatan had left but the day before, and I was therefore disappointed and obliged to rely upon the vigilance of the officers and crew of this ship, and proceeded the next morning to the north side of the island of Cuba, communicated with Sagua la Grande on the 4th, hoping to receive a telegraphic communication from Mr. Shufeldt, our consul-general, giving me the time of the departure of the steamer.
        In this, also, I was disappointed, and ran to the eastward some 90 miles, where the old Bahama Channel contracts to the width of 15 miles, some 240 miles from The Havannah, and in sight of the Paredon Grande light-house. There we cruised until the morning of the 8th, awaiting the steamer, believing that if she left at the usual time she must pass us about noon of the 8th, and we could not possibly miss her. At 11:40 a.m., on the 8th, her smoke was first seen; at 12 m. our position was to the westward of the entrance into the narrowest part of the channel and about 9 miles northeast from the light-house of Paredon Grande, the nearest point of Cuba to us.
        We were all prepared for her, beat to quarters, and orders were given to Lieutenant D. M. Fairfax to have two boats manned and armed to board her and make Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis, and Macfarland prisoners, and send them immediately on board. (A copy of this order to him is herewith enclosed.)
        The steamer approached and hoisted English colors. Our ensign was hoisted, and a shot was fired across her bow; she maintained her speed and showed no disposition to heave to; then a shell was fired across her bow, which brought her to. I hailed that I intended to send a boat on board, and Lieutenant Fairfax with the second cutter of this ship was dispatched. He met with some difficulty, and remaining on board the steamer with a part of the boat's crew, sent her back to request more assistance. The captain of the steamer having declined to show his papers and passenger list, a force became necessary to search her. Lieutenant James A. Greer was at once dispatched in the third cutter, also manned and armed.
        Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis, and Macfarland were recognized and told they were required to go on board this ship; this they objected to, until an overpowering force compelled them. Much persuasion was used and a little force, and at about 2 o'clock they were brought on board this ship and received by me. Two other boats were then sent to expedite the removal of their baggage and some stores, when the steamer, which proved to be the Trent, was suffered to proceed on her route to the eastward, and at 3:30 p.m. we bore away to the northward and westward. The whole time employed was two hours thirteen minutes. I enclose you the statements of such officers who boarded the Trent relative to the facts, and also an extract from the log book of this ship.
        It was my determination to have taken possession of the Trent and sent her to Key West as a prize, for resisting the search and carrying these passengers, whose character and objects were well known to the captain, but the reduced number of my officers and crew, and the large number of passengers on board bound to Europe who would be put to great inconvenience, decided me to allow them to proceed.
        Finding the families of Messrs. Slidell and Eustis on board, I tendered them the offer of my cabin for their accommodation to accompany their husbands; this they declined, however, and proceeded in the Trent.
Before closing this dispatch I would bring to your notice the notorious action of her Britannic Majesty's subjects, the consul-general of Cuba and those on board the Trent, in doing everything to aid and abet the escape of these four persons and endeavoring, to conceal their persons on board. No passports or papers or any description were in possession of them from the Federal Government, and for this and other reasons which will readily occur to you I made them my prisoners, and shall retain them on board here until I hear from you what disposition is to be made of them.
        I can not close this report without bearing testimony to the admirable manner in which all the officers and men of this ship 'performed their duties, and the cordial manner in which they carried out my orders. To Lieutenant Fairfax I beg leave to call your particular attention for the praiseworthy manner in which he executed the delicate duties with which he was intrusted; it met and has received my warmest thanks.
        After leaving the north side of Cuba I ran through the Santaren Passage and up the coast from off St. Augustine to Charleston, and regretted being too late to take a part in the expedition to Port Royal.
        I enclose herewith a communication I received from Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis, and Mcfarland, with my answer.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Secretary of the Navy.

[Enclosure 1.]

At Sea, November 8, 1861.

        SIR: You will have the second and third cutters of this ship fully manned and armed, and be in all respects prepared to board the steamer Trent, now hove to under our guns. On boarding her you will demand the papers of the steamer, her clearance from Havana, with the list of passengers and crew. Should Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Eustis, and Mr. Macfarland be on board, you will make them prisoners and send them on board this ship immediately, and take possession of her as a prize. I do not deem it will be necessary to use force, that the prisoners will have the good sense to avoid any necessity for using it, but if they should, they must be made to understand that it is their own fault. They must be brought on board.
        All trunks, cases, packages, and bags belonging to them you will take possession of, and send on board this ship. Any dispatches found on the persons of the prisoners, or in possession of those on board the steamer, will be taken possession of also, examined, and retained if necessary.
        I have understood that the families of these gentlemen may be with them; if so, I beg you will offer some of them, in my name, a passage in this ship to the United States; and that all the attention and comforts we can command are tendered them, and will be placed in their service. In the event of their acceptance, should there be anything which the captain of the steamer can spare to increase the comforts in the way of necessaries or stores of which a war vessel is deficient you will please to procure them. The amount will be paid for by the paymaster.
        Lieutenant James A. Greer will take charge of the third cutter, which accompanies you, and assist you in these duties. I trust that all those under your command, in executing this important and delicate duty, will conduct themselves with all the delicacy and kindness which becomes the character of our naval service.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant D. M. FAIRFAX, U. S. Navy,Executive Officer, San Jacinto.

[Enclosure 2.]


AT SEA, Friday, November 8, 1861.

From 8 a.m. to meridian, as per columns.--Lying to off Paredon Lights. At 10:30 a bark in sight to the eastward and a schooner to the northward. At 11:40 made out a steamer to the westward.

From meridian to 4 p.m.--Moderate breezes from the northward and eastward, and pleasant. At 12:55 beat to quarters, hoisted the colors, and loaded the guns. At 1:05 fired a shot across the bows of the steamer in sight showing English colors. At 1:17 the steamer close on us, and not stopping, fired another shot across her bows, at which she stopped. Hailed her, and at 1:20 Lieutenant Fairfax, in the second cutter, with an armed crew, boarded the vessel. At 1:35 sent Lieutenant Greer in the third cutter to the assistance of Mr. Fairfax. At 2 he returned, bringing Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis, and Macfarland, and then returned to the steamer. Received on board the baggage of the above gentlemen, and some stores for their use. Ran to leeward of the steamer. At 3:20 she stood to the eastward. At 3:30 hoisted up our boats and stood to the northward and westward.

K. R. BREESE,[Lieutenant, U. S. N.]

[Enclosure 3.]

U. S. S. SAN JACINTO,At Sea, November 11, 1861.

        GENTLEMEN: You will report to me, in writing, all the facts which transpired under your observation on board the mail steamer Trent, bound from Havana to St. Thomas, whilst hove to under our guns, on the 8th instant, and boarded by you under my orders.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

Lieutenant D. M. FAIRFAX,
Lieutenant JAMES A. GREER,
Second Assistant Engineer JAS. B. HOUSTON,
Third Assistant Engineer GEO. W. HALL,
Paymaster's Clerk R. G. SIMPSON,
Master's Mate CHAS. B. DAHLGREN,
Boatswain H. P. GRACE, U. S. Navy.

[Enclosure 4.]

U. S. S. SAN JACINTO.At Sea, November 12, 1861.

        SIR: At 1:20 p.m. on the 8th instant I repaired alongside of the British mail packet in an armed cutter, accompanied by Mr. Houston, second assistant engineer, and Mr. Grace, the boatswain.
        I went on board the Trent alone, leaving the two officers in the boat, with orders to await until it became necessary to show some force. I was shown up by the first officer to the quarter-deck, where I met the captain and informed him who I was, asking to see his passenger list. He declined letting me see it. I then told him that I had information of Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Eustis, and Mr. Macfarland having taken their passage at Havana in the packet to St. Thomas, and would satisfy myself whether they were on board before allowing his steamer to proceed. Mr. Slidell, evidently hearing his name mentioned, came up to me and asked if I wanted to see him. Mr. Mason soon joined us, and then Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland, when I made known the object of my visit. The captain of the Trent opposed anything like a search of his vessel, nor would he consent to show papers or passenger list. The four gentlemen above mentioned protested also against my arresting and sending them to the U. S. steamer near by.
There was considerable noise among the passengers just about this time, and that led Mr. Houston and Mr. Grace to repair on board with some 6 or 8 men, all armed. After several unsuccessful efforts to persuade Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell to go with me peaceably, I called to Mr. Houston and ordered him to return to the ship with the information that the four gentlemen named in your order of the 8th instant were on board and force must be applied to take them out of the packet.
        About three minutes after there was still greater excitement on the quarter-deck, which brought Mr. Grace with his armed party. I, however, deemed the presence of any armed men unnecessary and only calculated to alarm the ladies present and directed Mr. Grace to return to the lower deck, where he had been since first coming on board. It must have been less than half an hour steer I boarded the Trent when the second armed cutter, under Lieutenant Greer, came alongside (only two armed boats being used). He brought in the cutter 8 marines and 4 machinists in addition to a crew of some 12 men. When the marines and some armed men had been formed just outside of the main deck cabin, where these four gentlemen had gone to pack up their baggage, I renewed my efforts to induce them to accompany me on board. Still refusing to accompany me unless force was applied, I called in to my assistance four or five officers, and first taking hold of Mr. Mason's shoulder, with another officer on the opposite side, I went as far as the gangway of the steamer and delivered him over to Lieutenant Greer to be placed in the boat.
        I then returned for Mr. Slidell, who insisted that I must apply considerable force to get him to go with me. Calling in at least three officers, he also was taken in charge and handed over to Mr. Greet. Mr. Macfarland and Mr. Eustis, after protesting, went quietly into the boat. They had been permitted to collect their baggage, but were sent in advance of it under charge of Lieutenant Greet.
        I gave my personal attention to the luggage, saw it put in a boat and sent in charge of an officer to the San Jacinto. When Mr. Slidell was taken prisoner a great deal of noise was made by some of the passengers, which caused Lieutenant Greer to send the marines into the cabin. They were immediately ordered to return to their former position outside. I carried out my purpose without using any force beyond what appears in this report. The mail agent, who is a retired commander in the British navy, seemed to have a great deal to say as to the propriety of my course, but I purposely avoided all official intercourse with him. When I finally was leaving the steamer he made some apology for his rude conduct and expressed personally his approval of the manner in which I had carried out my orders. We parted company from the Trent at 3:20 p.m.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
D. M. FAIRFAX,Lieutenant and Executive Officer.

Captain CHARLES WILKES, U. S. Navy,
Commanding San Jacinto.

[Enclosure 5.]

U. S. S. SAN JACINTO,At Sea, November 12, 1861.

        SIR: In accordance with your instructions I submit the following: On November 8, between 1 and 2 o'clock p.m., I was ordered by Lieutenant Breese, acting executive officer, to shove off with the third cutter, and to go alongside of the English mail steamer, which was then lying to under our guns. In the boat with me were Third Assistant Engineer Hall, Paymaster's Clerk Simpson, Master's Mate Dahlgren, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal, 6 privates of marines, 4 machinists, and the crew consisting of 13 men, the whole party being well armed.
        When I arrived at the steamer I was met on the guard by Mr. Grace with a message from Lieutenant Fairfax (who had preceded me on board) to bring the marines on board and to station them outside of the cabin, which I did; also to keep the spare men on the guard, and to have the boats' crews in readiness to jump on board if needed.
        As soon as the marines were stationed I had the space outside and forward of the cabin kept clear of passengers, and assumed a position where I could see Lieutenant Fairfax, who was then engaged in conversation with persons in the cabin. He shortly came out, and told me to remain as I was. He then went back into the cabin, and in a few minutes returned with Mr. Mason. He had his hand on his shoulder, and I think Mr. Hall had his on the other one. He transferred Mr. Mason to me, and I had the third cutter hauled up, into which he got. Shortly after Mr. Macfarland came out and got into the boat. I think he was unaccompanied by any of the officers. About this time I heard a good deal of loud talking in the cabin, and above all I heard a woman's voice. I could not hear what she said.
        Mr. Fairfax appeared to be having an altercation with some one. There was much confusion created by the passengers and ship's officers, who were making all kinds of disagreeable and contemptuous noises and remarks.
        Just then Mr. Houston came to me and said he thought there would be trouble. I told him to ask Mr. Fairfax if I should bring the marines. He returned with an answer to bring them in. At that time I heard some one call out, "Shoot him." I ordered the marines to come into the cabin, which they did at quick time. As they advanced the passengers fell back. Mr. Fairfax then ordered the marines to go out of the cabin, which they did, Mr. Slidell at the same time jumping out of a window of a stateroom into the cabin, where he was arrested by Mr. Fairfax, and was then brought by Mr. Hall and Mr. Grace to the boat, into which he got. Soon after Mr. Eustis came to the boat accompanied by Mr. Fairfax. I then, by his order, took charge of the boat and conveyed the gentlemen arrested, viz, Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Macfarland, and Eustis, to the San Jacinto, where I delivered them over to Captain Wilkes; this was about 2 o'clock. I then returned to the steamer. When I reached her the baggage of the gentlemen was being brought up and sent to the San Jacinto. Soon after Mr. Fairfax told me to send the marines and spare hands on board, which I did. He then left me in charge of our party, and went on board the San Jacinto. About 3 o'clock she ran under the Trent's stern. 1 was hailed and directed to come on board, which I did with all excepting Mr. Grace, Mr. Dahlgren, and Mr. Hall, who came in another boat.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES A. GREER,Lieutenant.

Captain C. WILKES,
Commanding San Jacinto.

        P. S.--I desire to add that it was about 1:35 p.m. when I went alongside the Trent. There were but two armed boats used during the day; a third boat, the crew of which were unarmed, went alongside during the detention. When I first went on board with the marines, and at intervals during my stay, the officers of the steamer made a great many irritating remarks to each other and the passengers, which were evidently intended for our benefit.
        Among other things said were, "Did your ever hear of such an outrage?" "Marines on board! Why, this looks devilish like mutiny." "These Yankees will have to pay well for this." "This is the best thing in the world for the South." "England will open the blockade." "We will have a good chance at them now." "Did you ever hear of such piratical act?" "Why, this is a perfect Bull Run." "They would not have dared to have done it if an English man-of-war had been in sight." The mail agent (a man in the uniform of a commander in the royal navy, I think) was very indignant and talkative, and tried severs l times to get me into a discussion of the matter. I told him I was not there for that purpose. He was very bitter. He told me that the English squadron would raise the blockade in twenty days after his report of this outrage (I think he said outrage) got home; that the Northerners might as well give it up now, etc. Most all of the officers of the vessel showed an undisguised hatred for the Northern people and a sympathy for the Confederates. I will do the captain of the vessel the justice to say that he acted differently from the rest, being when I saw him very reserved and dignified.
        The officers and men of our party took no apparent notice of the remarks that were made and acted with the greatest forbearance.


[Enclosure 6.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO,A t Sea, November 13, 1861.

        SIR: In obedience to your order of the 11th instant, I respectfully report that upon going alongside of the English steamer Trent, on the 7th of this month, Lieutenant Fairfax went on board, ordering the boatswain and myself to remain in the boat. A few minutes after this my attention was attracted by persons speaking in a loud and excited manner upon the steamer's upper deck. While considering its meaning the noise was repeated, which decided me to join Lieutenant Fairfax immediately on board. Found him surrounded by the officers of the ship and passengers, among whom I recognized Messrs. Slidell and Eustis. The contusion at this time passes description. As soon, however, as he could be heard, the mail agent (who was a retired lieutenant or commander in the British navy)protested against the act of removing passengers from an English steamer.
        Lieutenant Fairfax requested Mr. Mason to go quietly to the San Jacinto, but that gentleman replied that he would "yield only to force;" whereupon I was ordered to our ship to report the presence of the above-named gentlemen, together with Mr. Macfarland, and ask that the remainder of our three be sent to the Trent, after which I returned to her, and, entering the cabin, saw Mr. Fairfax endeavoring to enter Mr. Slidell's room, which was then prevented in a measure by the excitement which prevailed in and around that gentleman's quarters.
        The passengers (not including Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Eustis, and Macfarland) were disposed at this time to give trouble; some of them went so far as to threaten, and upon Lieutenant Greer being informed by me of this fact, he ordered the marines to clear the passageway of the cabin, but as Mr. Slidell had now come out of his stateroom through the window where we could get to him, the order to the marines was countermanded by Lieutenant Fairfax.
        Mr. Slidell was removed to the boat by Mr. Grace and myself, and no more force was used than would show what would be done in case of necessity. Mr. Mason was taken in charge of by Lieutenant Fairfax and Third Assistant Engineer Hall. The two secretaries walked into the boat by themselves.
        While we were on board of the Trent many remarks were made reflecting discreditably upon us and the Government of the United States. No one was more abusive than the mail agent, who took pains at the same time to inform us that he was the only person on board officially connected with Her Britannic Majesty's Government, who, he said, would in consequence of this act break the blockade of the Southern United States ports. Another person, supposed to be a passenger, was so violent that the captain ordered him to be locked up.
        A short time before leaving the steamer I was informed by one of her crew that the mail agent was advising the captain to arm the crew and passengers of his ship, which I immediately communicated to Lieutenant Greet. About 3:30 p.m. we returned to the San Jacinto.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. HOUSTON,Second Assistant Engineer, U. S. S. San Jacinto.


[Enclosure 7.]

At Sea, November 13, 1861.

        SIR: In obedience to your order of the 11th instant, I respectfully make the following report of what came under my observation on board the mail steamer Trent whilst hove to under our guns on the 8th instant:
        I boarded the steamer in the third cutter, under the command of Lieutenant Greer. Immediately on reaching the steamer's deck I stationed 4 men (an oiler, assistant oiler, and 2 firemen), who accompanied me, in the port gangway. I then went into the cabin, where I saw Lieutenant Fairfax surrounded by a large number of passengers and the officers of the ship. He was conversing with Mr. Mason, and endeavoring to get him to come peaceably on board this ship. Mr. Mason refused to comply unless by force. Lieutenant Fairfax then said he would take him by force, and, taking hold of Mr. Mason's coat collar, gave an order, "Gentlemen, lay hands on him." I then laid hold of him by the coat collar, when Mr. Mason said he would yield under protest. I accompanied him as far as the boat, which was at the port gangway.
        Returning to the cabin, Lieutenant Fairfax was at Mr. Slidell's room. After a short time Mr. Slidell came from his room through a side window. He also refused Lieutenant Fairfax's order to come on board this ship unless by force. I, with several of the officers, then caught hold and used sufficient power to remove him from the cabin. He was accompanied to the boat by Second Assistant Engineer Houston and Boatswain Grace. I then received an order from both Lieutenants Fairfax and Greer to retain the boat till Messrs. Eustis and Macfarland were found. I remained in the gangway till Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Eustis, and Macfarland shoved off, Lieutenant Greet having charge of the gentlemen.
        There was a great deal of excitement and talking during the whole time, the officers of the steamer particularly endeavoring to thwart Lieutenant Fairfax in carrying out his orders. They also used very harsh expressions toward us, calling us pirates, piratical expedition, etc., and threatened to open our blockade in a few weeks. At one time the officers and a passenger made a demonstration. At the moment the marine guard came hastily in the cabin, but were immediately ordered back by Lieutenant Fairfax.
        As far as I am able to judge, everything was conducted on our part in a peaceable, quiet, and gentlemanly manner, and most remarkably so by Lieutenant Fairfax, who certainly had sufficient cause to resort to arms. I remained on board the Trent till after the baggage belonging to the gentlemen had been sent, and finally returned to this ship with Lieutenant Greer.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,
Third Assistant Engineer, U. S. Navy.

Commanding U. S. S. San Jacinto.

[Enclosure 8.]

U. S. S. SAN JACINTO,At Sea, November 12, 1861.

        SIR: In compliance with your order of yesterday, I have the honor to state the following: Between the hours of 1:30 and 2 p.m. on Friday, November 8, I boarded the mail steamer Trent in the third cutter, under the command of Lieutenant James A. Greer, of this ship. Immediately after my arrival on board the Trent I was called into the cabin by Lieutenant Fairfax, who was endeavoring to persuade Mr. Mason to go peaceably on board the San Jacinto, which he obstinately refused to do, and said he would only go by force. Lieutenant Fairfax then said, "Gentlemen (addressing the officers of this ship then present, Mr. Geo. W. Hall, third assistant engineer, Mr. H. P. Grace, boatswain, and myself), lay your hands on Mr. Mason," which we accordingly did. Mr. Mason then said, "I yield to force," or words to that effect, when a gentleman alongside in uniform, apparently an officer of the Trent, said,;' Under protest." Mr. Mason then said, "I yield to force under protest and will go." There was a great deal of excitement on board during this time, and the officers and passengers of the steamer were addressing us by numerous opprobrious epithets, such as calling us pirates, villains, traitors, etc. The above occurred on the port side of the cabin. Immediately after I was ordered by Lieutenant James A. Greer to take charge on the starboard side, as some of our boats were coming alongside to take the personal effects of the prisoners. I remained there until about 3 p.m., when I was ordered by Lieutenant James A. Greet to return on board the San Jacinto in charge of a portion of the prisoners' baggage.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBERT G. SIMPSON,Paymaster's Clerk.

Commanding U. S. S. San Jacinto.

[Enclosure 9.]

At Sea, November 12, 1861.

        SIR: In obedience to your order, I hereby state that I was one of those who boarded the Trent, mail packet. Mr. Mason, Mr. Macfarland, and Eustis stepped quietly into the boats, and were removed to the San Jacinto. Mr. Slidell, however, on a flat refusal to leave the ship in any other manner, was, by a gentle application of force, placed in the boat and removed.
        Everything was conducted in an orderly, gentlemanly manner, as far as it came under my observation.

I remain, your obedient servant,
CHARLES B. DAHLGREN,[Master's Mate.]


[Enclosure 10.]

At Sea, November 12, 1861.

        SIR: In obedience to your orders of the 12th instant, I have the honor to make the following statement:
        On the 8th instant, about 1:30 p.m., I was ordered to accompany Lieutenant D. M. Fairfax in the second cutter to board the mail steamer Trent, then hove to under the guns of the San Jacinto. Lieutenant Fairfax ordered Mr. Houston and myself to remain in the boat while he went on board. A few minutes after Mr. Fairfax boarded her we heard some loud talking on deck, and Mr. Houston went on board to see if Mr. Fairfax needed assistance. He shortly returned and delivered Lieutenant Fairfax's order that I should come on board with the crew. I came on board, found Mr. Fairfax surrounded by ladies and gentlemen, and reported to him. He ordered me to remain in the gangway with the men. He was talking at the time to Mr. Mason, persuading him to come on board the San Jacinto without further force being used. Soon after another boat came alongside in charge of Lieutenant Jas. A. Greer. He went in the cabin; soon afterward Lieutenant Fairfax ordered me to wait on Mr. Slidell to the boat. At this order some of the passengers began to shout, and the marines rushed in the cabin, but Lieutenant Fairfax ordered them back to the gangway.
        I saw Mr. Slidell in the second cutter. Messrs. Mason, Eustis, and Macfarland were in the boat. Mr. Greet returned with those gentlemen to the San Jacinto, and I was charged to bring the baggage and effects of the gentlemen on board the San Jacinto, which I did, and reported my return to Lieutenant Breese. All the officers of this ship that boarded her have been grossly abused by the officers and passengers of the mail steamer.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. P. GRACE,Boatswain, U. S. Navy.

Commanding U. S. S. San Jacinto.

[Enclosure 11.]

At Sea, November 9, 1861.

        SIR: We desire to communicate to you by this memorandum the facts attending our arrest yesterday on board the British mail steamer Trent, by your order, and our transfer to this ship.
        We, the undersigned, embarked at Havana on the 7th instant as passengers on board the Trent, Captain Moir, bound to the island of St. Thomas, the Trent being one of the regular mail and passenger line of the British Royal Steamship Company running from Vera Cruz via Havana to St. Thomas and thence to Southampton, England. We paid our passage money for the whole route from Havana to Southampton to the British consul at Havana, who acts as the agent or representative of the said steamship company, Mr. Slidell being accompanied by his family, consisting of his with, four children, and a servant, and Mr. Eustis by his wife and servants.
        The Trent left the port of Havana about 8 o'clock a.m. on the morning of the 7th instant, and pursued her voyage uninterruptedly until intercepted by the U. S. S. San Jacinto, under your command, on the day following (the 8th instant), in the manner now to be related.
        When the San Jacinto was first observed, several miles distant, the Trent was pursuing the usual course of her voyage along the Old Bahama or Nicholas Channel; was about 240 miles from Havana, and in sight of the lighthouse of Paredon Grande, the San Jacinto then lying stationary, or nearly so, about the middle of the channel, and where it was some 15 miles wide, as since shown us on the chart, the nationality of the ship being then unknown.
        When the Trent had approached near enough for her flag to be distinguished, it was hoisted at the peak and at the main, and so remained for a time. No flag was shown by the San Jacinto. When the Trent had approached within a mile of the San Jacinto, still pursuing the due course of her voyage, a shotted gun was fired from the latter ship across the course of the Trent, and the United States flag at the same time displayed at the peak. The British flag was again immediately hoisted as before, by the Trent, and so remained. When the Trent had approached, still on her course, within from 200 to 300 yards of the San Jacinto, a second shotted gun was fired from your ship again across the course of the Trent. When the Trent got within hailing distance, her captain inquired what was wanted. The reply was understood to be they would send a boat, both ships being then stationary, with steam shut off. A boat very soon put off from your ship, followed immediately by two other boats, with full crews, and armed with muskets and side arms.
        A lieutenant in the naval uniform of the United States and with side arms boarded the Trent, and in the presence of most of the passengers, then assembled on the upper deck, said to Captain Moir that he came with orders to demand his passenger list. The captain refused to produce it, and formally protested against any right to visit his ship for the purpose indicated. After some conversation importing renewed protests on the part of the captain against the alleged object of the visit, and on the part of the officer of the San Jacinto, that he had only to execute his orders, the latter said that two gentlemen, naming Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason, were known to be on board, as also two other gentlemen, naming Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland, and that his orders were to take and carry them on board the San Jacinto. It should have been noted that on first addressing the captain the officer announced himself as a lieutenant of the U. S. S. San Jacinto. The four gentlemen thus named being present, the lieutenant addressed Mr. Slidell, and afterward Mr. Mason, repeating that his orders were to take them, together with Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland, and carry them on board his ship, which orders he must execute. Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason, in reply, protested in the presence of the captain of the Trent, his officers and passengers, against such threatened violation of their persons and of their rights, and informed the lieutenant that they would not leave the ship they were in unless compelled by the employment of actual force greater than they could resist, and Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland united with them in expressing a like purpose. That officer stated that he hoped he would not be compelled to resort to the use of force, but if it became necessary to employ it in order to execute his orders he was prepared to do so. He was answered by the undersigned that they would submit to such force alone. The lieutenant then went to the gangway, where his boats were, the undersigned going at the same time to their staterooms on the deck next below, followed by Captain Moir and by the other passengers.
        The lieutenant returned with a party of his men, a portion of whom were armed with side arms, and others appearing to be a squad of marines having muskets and bayonets. Mr. Slidell was at this time in his stateroom, immediately by and in full view. The lieutenant then said to Mr. Mason that having his force now present he hoped to be relieved from the necessity of calling it into actual use. That gentleman again answered that he would only submit to actual force greater than he could overcome, when the lieutenant and several of his men, by his order, took hold of him in a manner and in numbers sufficient to make resistance fruitless, and Mr. Slidell joining the group at the same time, one or more of the armed party took like hold of him, and these gentlemen at once went into the boat.
        During this scene many of the passengers became highly excited and gave vent to the strongest expressions of indignation, seeming to indicate a purpose of resistance on their part, when the squad, armed with muskets, with bayonets fixed, made a sensible advance of one or two paces, with their arms at a charge. It must be added here, omitted in the course of the narrative, that before the party left the upper deck an officer of the Trent, named Williams, in the naval uniform of Great Britain, and known to the passengers as having charge of the mails and accompanying them to England, said to the lieutenant that, as the only person present directly representing his Government, he felt called upon, in language as strong and as emphatic as he could express, to denounce the whole proceeding as a piratical act.
        Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason, together with Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland, against whom force had in like manner been used, were taken to the San Jacinto as soon as they entered the boat. When they reached your ship you received them near the gangway, announcing yourself as Captain Wilkes, the commander of the ship, and conducted them to your cabin, which you placed at their disposal.
        When the undersigned came on board they found the men at their quarters and the guns bearing on the Trent. After some time occupied in bringing on board our luggage and effects, the San Jacinto proceeded to the northward, through the Santaren Channel, the Trent having been detained from three to four hours.
        The foregoing is believed to be a correct narrative in substance of the facts and circumstances attending our arrest and transfer from the British mail steamer to the ship under your command, and which we doubt not will be corroborated by the lieutenant present, as well as by all who witnessed them.
        The incidents here given in detail may not have been witnessed by each one of the undersigned individually, but they were by one or more of them. As for the most part they did not pass under your notice, we have deemed it proper to present them in this form before you, expressing the wish that it' considered incorrect in any part the inaccuracies may be pointed out.
        With a respectful request that you will transmit a copy of this paper to the Government of the United States, together with your report of the transaction, to facilitate which a copy is herewith inclosed,

We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servants,

U. S. Navy,Commanding San Jacinto.

[Enclosure 12.]

At Sea, November 13, 1861.

        GENTLEMEN: Your letter dated the 9th instant was handed to me yesterday. I shall transmit it, agreeably to your request, to the honorable Secretary of the Navy with my report of the transaction to which it refers.
        In reply to your wish to have any inaccuracies it may contain pointed out, I deem it my duty to say the facts differ materially in respect to the time and circumstances. The facts in my possession are derived, first, from the log book (the official record of the ship); and second, from the reports, in writing, of all the officers who visited the Trent, all which will form a part of my report.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain, Commanding San Jacinto.


[Enclosure 13]

U. S. S. SAN JACINTO, November 15, 1861.

        SIR: Before leaving your ship we think it proper that we should state that since we have been on board of her we have uniformly been treated with great courtesy and attention.

Very respectfully, your obedient servants,

Captain WILKES,
Commanding U. S. S. San Jacinto.

Source: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion

This page last updated 11/28/05