from here on such conditions as in his judgment he may deem proper. General, I certainly have no claims on you for thus troubling you, but my condition at present after so many years of hard work and now to be left penniless at my age and a young family, while no desire or evil intent of mine has occasioned it, I cannot but think it hard.
Trusting sincerely that whatever is done will be for the best and that you will forgive me for the liberty I take in asking your assistance in my behalf, I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
I will merely add that if I was allowed to take my vessel to Havana when detained here first by Commodore [Commander] Mervine or soon after, I could have sold her for $40,000 in Havana to the same parties I furnished with cattle there. They since have supplied themselves with the steamer Honduras from New York City carrying cattle from Truxillo to Battabano, Cuba.
The freight was to be paid me by the shippers by drafts on Charleston or New Orleans which were said to be easily sold in Nassau, or on my return to Havana myself as I chose after getting to Nassau. I had no letters for any person whatever, the owners of the property being with it themselves or in their charge. Ify must have had them and if I had any would have no hesitancy in saying so.
NEW YORK, December 13, 1861.
Honorable WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.
SIR: In obedience to the instructions contained in your letter of the 10th instant I proceeded to Fort Lafayette and made an examination into the case of William [J.] Browning. I find from his statements that he is an engineer by profession and was engaged on a sugar plantation near Havana when business becoming dull he shipped as engineer on board the British steamer Salvor bound as he supposed to Nassau. He disclaims all knowledge of her intention to run the blockade or to carry any goods contraband or war, and he expresses his willingness to take the oath of allegiance. He is a native of this city and has referred me to a number of highly respectable citizens residing here (some of whom are personally known to me) who give him an excellent character, express their entire confidnece in his loyalty to the Government and are willing to enter into bonds that he will not do any act hostile to the United States. I therefore recommend that he be discharged.
There is another person named George McNabb, a Scotchman by birth, wh owas assistant engineer on board the same vessel and is in my opinion in precisely the same position as Browning. He also expresses his readiness to take the oath of allegiance and engage that he will commit no act hostile to the United States. If you have no testimony in the Department against him I would suggest that he likewise be released.
I inclose the letter which you requested me to return, and remain, sir, your most obedient servant,
U. S. Marshal.