LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,
Lisbon, March 14, 1862.
HORATIO J. PERRY, Esq., Chage d'Affaires, Madrid.
DEAR SIR: I am much obliged for your letter* of the 8th instant and the inclosure relating to the affair at Tangier. Up to this time I am quite ignorant of the cause of the arrest or of the ground upon which the consul placed it. I suppose, however, it was because the men were regarded as public enemies of our Government. If the versions given by the Gibraltar Chronicle to the Spanish papers be true it will be difficult to justify the extreme course of taking these men from Moorish territory by force.
Our treaty with Morocco does not contemplate a case of the kind and I fear the zeal of our consul has outrun his discretion. These two persons are of no consequence whatever, certainly notworth the enmity now provoked against us by a Government heretofore very friendly and as showsn in this matter well disposed. We are in no condition at home to invite unnecessary difficulties abroad, especially when no practical purpose for the country it to be served by them. On that account this incident is to be regretted. The action of our Government in the Trent affair ought to have admonished all representatives and officers that the utmost caution and prudence were to be observed in assuming responsibility. It will now be said we have done to a weak friend what we dare not do to a strong enemy.
If these persons were passengers on board a French steamer as is stated on their way to Cadiz and merely went on shore at Tangier while the steamer rested there a vexatious complication may ensue if Louis Napoleon be disposed to make a point against us. But I hope that will pass, and indeed the whole difficulty be smoothed over. The motive which animated our consul was creditable, but there were other considerations to be regarded besides an impulse of patriotic resentment. I doubt if his proceedings will be approved at Washington or that of the naval officer who went on shore witd men to take the prisoners from the Moorish authorities.
The impression in England at the last accounts was that they had been released. Layard so stated in Parliament on the 3rd instant. Mr. Sprague telegraphed me to-day that they have been sent home in a merchant vessel. They will doubtless be exchanged after getting there like other prisoners of war, as the Government has recently put those taken in the cruiser Jeff. Davis on that footing.
I observe by the Spanish papers that a vessel of war has been placed near the Tuscarora to prevent any collision with the Sumter in their waters, which I suppose to be a consequence of the Tangier affair, and not a pleasant one for us.
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Yours, very truly,
JAMES E. HARVEY.
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Numbers 5.
Saint Louis, March 14, 1862.
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II. The prisoners of war (privates) captured at Fort Donelson reported fit for duty to-day the hospital in this city will be sent to Chicago