Wednesday, July 6, 2011

July 7, 1861 (Sunday): Davis Writes To LIncoln

The Privateer Savannah

                                                            Manassas Junction, Va., July 7, 1861.
            Commanding U. S. Forces, Arlington, Va:
   SIR: The bearer, Col. Thomas H. Taylor, is sent (with an escort of twelve men and an officer, under  flag of truce) as bearer of dispatches from the President of the Confederate States to the President of the United States.  He is instructed by the former to deliver his dispatches in person to the latter, and to return with the answer.  His escort will await his orders.
   I remain, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
                                                            G. T. BEAUREGARD,
                                                            Brigadier-General, Commanding.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 2, Page 738.

Davis was writing to Lincoln with regard to the crew of the privateer Savannah who, acting on letters of marque from the Confederacy, had seized one merchant ship before being captured by the U. S. S. Perry (mistaken by the Savannah for an unarmed merchant vessel).  The U. S. and most European nations did not recognize letters of marque after the late 1850’s and the crew was imprisoned in irons in New York awaiting trial and a possible death sentence.  The Confederate government threatened to retaliate man for man, and the trial eventually ended in a hung jury.  The U. S. government declined to retry the men, regarding them as prisoners of war (eventually exchanged).  Taylor did not get to meet directly with Lincoln to present Davis’ letters, they were sent through General Winfield Scott.

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