Imatges de pÓgina

to cruise against and capture the property of vessels of Spain. By art account stated in the pocket book, it appears she was built in this city, by a Captain Chambers, who is believed to be a part owner, and a prosecution has been accordingly commenced. In proceeding to the city with the boat and prisoners, the officers met Mitchell and O'Neal, (two of the characters alluded to) with a party of men, going to take possession of the boat which had been seized; the latter having been sent in advance, was captured, and is lodged in jail, to await his trial: Mitchell, with the remainder of his party, pulled across the river, drew up his men behind some logs, and declared he would shoot the officer if he attempted to approach; from the weakness of the inspector's party, they effected their escape. The same party, some days afterwards, robbed a vessel, and sallied out of a small bayou, just above fort St. Philip, where there is a small settlement of fishermen, who, I have reason to believe, assume that character, the more easily to conceal their real one, of smugglers.

“ It has been stated to me, on the authority of a letter to a respectable gentleman of this city, that there were three schooners lying in the river Mermentau belonging to Commodore Aury's squadron, smuggling their cargoes on shore.

The audacity of the piratical set, since they find Galveston has not been, and, as they say, will not be, suppressed, knows no bounds. In order to keep them somewhat more in check, and to defeat their nefarious schemes, as far as in my power, until Government aid us with such force as it may deem best suited to the purpose, I have determined to station an additional revenue boat and crews, with an active, enterprising officer, at and near Fort St. Philip, and to increase the crews of the boats at the Balize and Fort St. John. It will, I think, render their operations a little more difficult, and I confidently rely on your approbation. The additionalexpense can be no consideration. But no efforts of the officers of the customs alone can be effectual in preventing the introduction of Africans from the Westward: to put a stop to that traffic, a naval force suitable to those waters is indispensable, and vessels captured with slaves ought not to be brought into this port, but sent to some other in the United States for adjudication. Enclosed you will also find an act passed by the Legislature of this State, respecting slaves imported in violation of the law of Congress of the 2d March, 1807. The object and policy of this law requires no comment from me. Vast numbers of slaves will be introduced, to an alarming extent, unless prompt and effectual measures are adopted by the General Govern ment.


July 9, 1818. Sir: Since Mr. James Miller, Collector of this district, left this place, agreeably to his request I have sent him abstracts of the accounts I have kept in this office, to the 1st of January last, which he said would enable him to make out his returns: he afterwards wrote me to make returns to him, and direct them to the care of the Secretary of State. I complied with his advice; but afterwards, concluding that he had made a mistake, directed the last package to the care of the Secretary of the Treasury. In a short time after, I received information that Mr. Miller was insane, which has kept me from making any further returns to him. Mr. Miller requested

me to make returns of receipts and expenditures quarterly. I have supposed they were yearly returns, and have not returned abstracts of them with the two last quarterly returns. I herewith enclose the boats that have entered and cleared at this office since I have transacted the business, were all boats running between this and the adjoinirg district, except a sloop from France, that had entered at New Orleans, and afterwards brought her cargo to this place. As to fines and forfeitures, no decision has taken place in the District Court relating to my reports to the District Attorney of seizures, and Mr. Dick wrote me, a short time past, that I might let one of the owners bail his boat, as great delay had taken place in bringing the cause to trial. By Mr. Dick's advice, last Summer, I got out State Warrants, and had negroes seized to the number of eighteen, which were a part of them stolen out of the custody of the coroner; and the balance condemned by the District Judge of the State, and the informers received their part of the nett proceeds from the State Treasurer.


negroes, that were seized about the same time, were tried at Opelousas in May last, by the same judge: he decided, that some Spaniards (that were supposed to have set up a sham claim, stating that the negroes had been stolen from them on the high seas) should have the negroes, and that the persons that seized them should pay one-half of the costs, and the State of Louisiana the other. This decision had such an effect as to render it almost impossible for me to obtain any assistance in that part of the country. There has been lately up the Bayou Mermentau two schooners from Galveston; they sold a part of their cargoes, and deposited the balance, and I could get no assistance to take them. Í made two seizures of wine, a part of one of their cargoes in the neighborhood of the Vermillion Bridge, about twenty miles to the Westward of this place. I summoned assistance, a part of which refused to assist, a part deserted while guarding the property, and the balance not being sufficiently strong to protect it, it was taken from them the ensuing night; the smug. glers had forcibly prevented our removing the property in the day time. A short time before this, I had authorized a man to seize some smuggled property on the Bayou Cureuseare, about one hundred and thirty miles to the Westward of this place. He had taken about the amount of $1,500, and said he could make seizure to a very large amount on that Bayou, and that he had force sufficient to do it. On his return home, a party from Galveston and others retook the property, threw his commission in the Bayou, and I am told the man will have to leave that part of the country to save his life. Mr. Chew lately informed me that he expected General Ripley would order some troops here.

On the 2d instant, a part of a company arrived at this place from Baton Rouge, commanded by Captain Amelung. An express started from Plaquimine after these troops left that place; the express passed this place, and arrived at Bayou Careuseare, about the time the truops arrived here. In consequence, a large number of Africans, that had lately been brought from Galveston to that Bayou, were moved off to the Westward. I do not think the small force that arrived will be of much use, as the captain does not appear inclined to go to the Westward of this place. The Creoles here, having lived under the Spanish Government, are much afraid of regular troops; a few regular troops stationed in Opelousas, would have a great effect in breaking up the pirates and smugglers in the Western part of that country. During the last year, I spent, out of my own pocket, more than $300, in trying to detect contraband negroes, &c. Mr. Miller promised to pay me the amount of his salary, and remit it

to me quarterly, (which he said Mr. Fromentin had informed would not be less than $450 per annum,) since which, I have not received any thing from him. I drew on him, in favor of Joel K. Mead, for $87, which, it paid, is all I have received for transacting the business of this office since the 1st May, 1817. If he has not received his pay, I should be glad if the business could be so adjusted that I could get mine.

I have the honor, Sir, of being
Your most obedient servant,


Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.

COLLEctor's Office, Nova IBERIA,

September 27, 1818. Sik: On the 8th day of July last, Captain Amelung, with eighteen of his company, agreed to go with me to the Bayou Nementou to suppress smugyling. On the day and succeeding night after our arrival there, we took thirieen prisoners that came armed to support smugglers, &c. The next day touk one of their vessels, set some hands to work in repairing her, and Captain Amelung returned io Nova Iberia for the balance of his company; returned with them, and we proceeded on with twenty-five men to the Bayou Cureaseau. On our arrival there we made more prisoners, seized three African negroes, two vessels, and part of their cargoes. Runners had been sent ahead of us, and five or six vessels run out of the Bayou a few days prior to our arrival there. A large number of African negroes had been on that Bayou, eighty of which left there a short time before our arrival, and about twenty passed us the night before we arrived. We proceeded down the Cureuseau, and came round to the Bayou Nementou. Captain Amelung furnished me with a lieutenant and eighteen men, and returned by land to Nova Iberia with the balance of his company. We proceeded with the vessels down the Nementou; met a falouche, commanded' by one of Lafitte's captains, off the mouth of the Bayou; the captain took us for smugglers; we got him on board one of our vessels; and, notwithstanding his directing his men, in French, when he left his own vessel, to cut their cable if he did not return with the boat, run down our boat, and kill every man on board, we boarded her after they cut their cable, and took her without the loss of one man. Her cargo consists of coffee, cocoa, refined wax for candies, oil, dry goods, and about 10,000 of quicksilver. I arrived here yesterday; have suffered very much; during the line storm we lost three anchors, sprung one mast, carried away our yards and sails. I left the vessels in the Vermillion bay; shall start immediately to bring them round to this place. If there was one small cutter on this coast she would be of great service.

My remaining absent so long, sir, must excuse me for not answering your letter relatirig to the resolution of the Senate of the United States. There are no persons employed in this office at present except myself, acting as deputy collector, though it is probable tu me that, before long, from the emigration to, and increase of trade in this part of the country, that it will be necessary that there should be appointed a permanent inspector, as well as a collector, in this office.

I am, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,


Deputy Collector. P. S. If Mr. Miller is living, he has in his possession such returns as he requested me to make to him of receipts and expenditures, &c. from 1st of May, to the 31 st December, 1817.


Secretary of the Treasury, of the U.S.

[ocr errors]

Extract of a letter from George Graham, Esq. to the Secretary of State,

Bayou Rapide, 12 miles from

Alexandria, September 9, 1818. "Galveston is a position of much more importance than the Government has hitherto supposed; it is the greatest and best part of the province of Texas, and the possession of it is indispensably necessary for the suppression of the most extensive and avowed system of smuggling that has ever been carried on in the United States; and which, from the nature of the adjacent country, can never be checked while Galveston is occupied by any other authority than that of the United States. At this point commences a chain of islands, which runs Southwestwardly along the coast, and beyond the mouth of the Rio Bravo, between which, and the main land, is a continued sound or bay, from three to twenty leagues in width. The only inlets into this Sound N. E. of the Rio Bravo, are those at Matagorda, near the mouth of the Colorado, and at Galveston. The bar at Galveston affords from ten to twelve feet water, according to the state of the tide; the anchorage on the East side of the bar is very good, and as soon as it is passed, there are from four to six fathoms water, and an easy access into one of the safest harbors in the world.

“At Matagorda, the bar is said to afford from eleven to thirteen feet water; but there is no anchorage on the outside of the bar, and that within the harbor is not good. The harbor of Galveston is situated at the East end of Serpent Island, which is thirty miles long, and from two to six miles wide; the soil alluvial, very much mixed with shells, and generally dry and fertile; it is but a few feet above the level of high tide. This island forms a part of the Southern boundary of the bay of Trinity; it is entirely destitute of wood; the present supply of fuel is derived from drift wood; the climate is a delicious one, and notwithstanding the water is as bad as it can be to be drinkable, the site is a very healthy one. The bay of Trinity extends Northwestwardly to within a few miles of the Sabine, and Southwestwardly, beyond the Brasses, it receives the Trinity, the St. Jacynths, and the Brasses, all large rivers, affording good navigation, and watering the best parts of the province of Texas. At the mouth of each of these rivers is a bar, which affords only four feet water, and the only pass into the bay for large vessels,

is that at Galveston. But the point of view in which the possession of Galveston is at this time particularly interesting to the United States, and on which account I would recommend its immediate occupation as a military post, is to put an end to the system of smuggling that is actively carried on through this whole country, and which is not confined to merchants, but is the avowed occupation of many; and extends even to the planters, who, entering into the business in the first instance for the purpose of obtaining negroes for their own use, have been induced, in many instances, from the profits, to continue the trade. If the same spirit of smuggling which prevails here, and it is a contagious one, extended to the same class of people in the Atlantic States, the revenue of the United States could not be collected, and a large portion of the population would become hostile to the Government. Such is the nature of the country lying between the swamps of the Mississippi and the Sabine, and such facilities does it afford to smuggling, that it could not even be checked while Galveston was subject to any other authority than that of the United States, except by the military occupation of the mouths of every river and inlet (for the inlets make into very large lakes, through which the rivers flow) between these points. But if Galveston was occupied by a single company, under the command of an officer of great integrity and prudence, with a revenue cutter under his control and direction, the whole of the smuggling trade now carried on West of the Mississippi swamp could be effectually broken up in two months; to break up that carried on in the swamp, and at New Orleans, will be a work of more time and expense."

New-ORLEANS, November 18, 1818. SIR: I have the honor to report to you the capture, by the United States' ketch Surprize, Lieutenant-commandant M'Keever, of a small schooner in ballast, under Mexican colors, coming from Galveston, and bound to this place, having on board the ex-French general Humbert, who had for many months been exercising the office of governor of that place, and of its dependencies, and as such, issuing commissions to eleven privateers, a list of which I herein enclose; the abovementioned vessel was also sailing under his commission. On board of her were a number of French emigrantsfrom the French settlement of Camp D’Asile, which has been abandoned and the inhabitants dispersed, in consequence of the orders of our Government, as communicated to them by Mr. Graham. From every thing I can learn, a total abandonment of Galveston, by the piratical association, will immediately take place, if it has not already, in consequence of the frequent capture of their cruisers by United States vessels; the great difficulty and loss they experience in introducing their captured goods into the United States, and the seductive invitation of Aury at Old Providence, whither they will repair, and, under his commissions, infest the West Indies.

The Firebrand is on our western coast, and will, I hope, bring in for trial some of the vessels stated in the within list; the schooner captured by her, and reported by my letter of 10th August ultimo, is the last mentioned one on that list. I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,

DANL. T. PATTERSON. The Hon. the Secretary of the Navy,


« AnteriorContinua »