COMMISSION OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA,
London, February 2, 1862.
Honorable R. M. T. HUNTER, Secretary of State, Richmond.
SIR: I arrived here on the 29th ultimo in the West India mail steamer from Saint Thomas, and have since written you two private notes by casual opportunities offering taking the chance of their reaching you. In these I gave you a brief account of our voyage after being released from Fort Warren. This is to go by Mr. Yancey, who leaves this evening for Southampton.
Lest my private notes should have miscarried I will briefly state here that on the 1st of January Mr. Slidell and I with Messrs. Eustis and Macfarland were taken from Fort Warren in a small steam-tug forty miles across an arm of the sea to Provincetown, Mass., in charge of a subordinate clerk of the State Department at Washington and Six marines with a corporal, where we found at anchor the British war steamer Rinaldo, of seventeen guns, Commander Hewett, and were placed on board about 4 p. m. We were received by Captain Hewett with great courtesy and the ship immediately got under way for Halifax.
Captain Hewett showed us in the course of the evening his letter of instructions from Lord Lyons, which directed him to receive and treat us with all the respect and consideration due to private gentlemen of distinction, and his orders were to proceed to Halifax or if we desired it to any other neutral port, but not to any one of the Confederate States. The most speedy opportunity to England being from Halifax we proceeded thither, but during the night a gale sprung up from the northwest which continued with increasing violence accompanied by thick weather and snow-storms up to Sunday the 5th. During that period we were unable to take an observation or to determine where we were in reference to our port. The thermometer was at 15^, the ship covered thickly with ice, all the ropes, cordage and sails frozen into a dense common mass and the coal nearly exhausted; add to which the ship had sustained much damage by the severity of the protracted storm, lost two of her boats from the davits, her fore-top sail (the only sail set) blown away, though double reefed, the taffrails stove in, &c., with many of the sailors severely frost-bitten.
In this condition the captain determined on Sunday, the 5th, still unable to get an observation, to bear away for Bermuda. It was computed by the dead reckoning that we had run some forty miles to the east of Halifax, when the course of the ship was changed. Getting to the middle of the Gulf stream after a run of some 300 miles we were enabled to thaw out, and reached Bermuda without further mishap on the 9th.
We immediately communicated through Captain Hewett with Admiral Milne, commanding the station, at his residence on shore, expressing our desire so far as compatible with his convenience to proceed in the most speedy manner to our destination. He had but few ships in port, but offered either to send us direct to England in the steamer send us on in the Rinaldo to Saint Thomas, which it was thought we might reach in time to intercept the mail steamer La Plata to leave there at latest on the 14th, Captain Hewett kindly offering to have his ship coaled during the night and to proceed during the next day, notwithstanding her damaged condition.
We chose the latter, as the Racer was a slow vessel, and under any circumstances would have a protracted voyage.
The admiral also kindly sent us an invitation to dine with him and to spend the night on shore, which we gladly accepted. Our entertain-