For some hours after our sezure I confidently expected the release of my vessel, cargo and passengers and was naturally very much surprised when I was informed by Captain Alden, of the steamer South Carolina, that hehad concluded to detain vessel and cargo and should send myself, passengers and crew to New York as prisoners of war. Of course I protected at such extraordinary proceedings, but my remonstrances were of no avail and I in company with Mr. Lewis, a brother of General Lewis, of New Orleans, and others taken from the Toone were transferred to a U. S. steamp-ship and after remaining on board of her one month we were with all my crew sent to new York in steam-ship Powhatan, and after being compelled to submit to much indignity we were on the 12th of November safely lodged in that far-famed hotel, Fort Lafayette, where I presume we would all have remained until the end of the war had I not been a British subject and entitled to the protection of my Government.
Immediately on landing from the Powhatan I addressed a letter to the British consul at New York, who at once sent me a legal adviser through whommy case was represented to the proper authorities at Washington and to Lord Lyons. The result was an immediate order for the release of all who had been on board the J. H. Toone, with the exception of three or four who were merely placed on parole until their testimony could be taken by the prize commissioners. Our release took place on 23rd of November and since that time I have been busily engaged pushing my claim for value of vessel and cargo. I am now quite confident of success and my lawyer tells me that the case is a clear one and that he has no fears for the result. He (the lawyer) occupies a very high position at the bar and is the legal adviser of the British and Spanish consulate and I have every confidence in him and in his ability. The case will probably be decided in thirty or sixty days. All the evidence or testimony has been taken and it is altogether in favor of the vessel. In fact the United States Government or the captors now admit that they seized us merely on suspicion, but in law we were on the high seas being more than forty miles from any land. The claim will amount to at least $100,000 and I am, compelled to be in Havana the latter part of this month in order to have the proper authenticated invoices and certificates forwarded to my attorney in New York.
Before I was relasedI was handed by the marshal a written obligation* which I was requested to sign. * * * I refused to take any such oath or obligation on the ground that I was a British subject, and my nationality prevented my interfering on either side, as my Queen had commanded mein common with all her subjects to observe a strict neutrality. My objection sufficed and I was allowed to go on my waywhen I recover my proper or the value thereof I will be still more rejoices; but I am perfectly that I shall not only get well remunerated for my vessel and the shippers for their goods but hope also one of these days to get damages for false imprisonment.
When I left New Orleans, August 25, your brother was in good health and spirits and hopeful for the future. Just previous to leaving he and I made a short visit to Rienzi Plantation and spent three or four days with Mr. Richard Allen. I also left James Allen in good health. Last season's business closed very satisfactorily - better than I anticipated, but what of the future? Gloomy for the South? Not so. The Southern ports are certain to be opened before many months. Some of the Atlantic cities may have their harbors closed, but the cotton heretofore shipped
* See Seward to Burke, November 21, ordering Aymar's release.