NASSAU, NEW PROVIDENCE, December 27, 1861.
Hon. J. P. BENJAMIN,
Secretary of War, Richmond, Va.:
DEAR SIR: My last communications to you were under dates of 12th, 14th, 15th, and 16th instant, per steamer Theodore, which vessel I trust has safely entered a Confederate port. Lest anything should have happened to prevent the receipt of my letters I will briefly repeat that the Theodore was compelled to enter the port of Nassau in distress, having sprung a leak the second day out, and it was with the greatest difficulty that she was saved from foundering. We reached here on the 10th, and found that the vessel was unfit to carry cargo. There being no ways or dry dock here we put such repairs as were indispensably necessary to enable her to reach home, and she sailed on the 17th. In her then condition she was utterly unavailable for service, and it was the only course that could be adopted to turn her to good use hereafter.
As matters have resulted we could have got no cargo at Cardenas or Havana, inasmuch as the vessel which you and Mr. Helm expected at Cuba turns out to be the Gladiator, now in the port of Nassau, whither she was ordered by Captain Huse to receive instructions from Mr. Helm. This latter gentleman did not receive the intelligence of the changed direction of the Gladiator until after the departure of the Karnak on her November trip to this place, say the 22d or thereabouts; otherwise he would have come on to Nassau. I wrote to you in my previous dispatch that I did not feel justified to give Captain Bird advice of an authoritative character. Could any persuasion of mine been of avail I should have ordered him off an hour after my arrival. He reached here the day before I did. On the following morning a Yankee gun-boat came in and has never budged since. Under those circumstances it would have simply been an act of folly to go out, and we had to resign ourselves to a condition of things for which there was no apparent remedy. The Gladiator has not the speed I would desire. She is not more than an eight to nine knot vessel at the very outside. I reached Havana on the 18th and handed Mr. Helm your letter, together with the bill for $ 3,000. He acknowledged that my arrival had relieved him of great anxiety, as he could not well leave Havana, and had already cast about for a proper person to proceed to Nassau and take charge of the Gladiator. By referring to the inclosed copy of his letter you will perceive that he has given me full authority to act in his stead, and I accordingly returned here on the 23d.
As before observed the situation of things is not changed. The gun-boat is still here and appears determined to remain. I have caused it to be represented to the authorities here that the presence of this war vessel amounts to a virtual blockade of the port; that it must tend to cut off the trade which the Confederate States desire to direct here, and thus prove highly injurious to the commercial interests of the island; that there are limits to the courtesy due to a belligerent in a neutral port, and that as this Yankee seems determined to take up his permanent abode here, some steps should be adopted to remind him that he is infringing on the laws of hospitality. I have reason to know that these arguments have not been without their effect, inasmuch as the matter was incidentally discussed at a meeting of the council the other day, and I really believe that in the course of a week or two some action will be taken to impress the captain of the enemy's vessel