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Bay authorities and myself. From the threatening attitude of affairs at present, I deem it my duty to request that the Massachusetts may be sent at once to this point. I do not know that any actual collision will take place, but it is not comfortable to be lying within range of a couple of war steamers. The Tribune, a 30-gun frigate, is lying broadside to our camp, and from present indications everything leads me to suppose that they will attempt to prevent my carrying out my instructions.
“ If you have any boats to spare, I should be happy to get one, at least. The only whale boat we had was, most unfortunately, staved on the day of our departure.
“We will be very inuch in want of some tools and camp equipage. I have not the time, Colonel, to make out the proper requisition, but your Quartermaster can send us some of those articles as will be of great service. “I am, sir, in haste, ever truly, your obedient servant,
“G. E. PICKETT,
“ Captain 9th Infantry. “ Lieut.-Colonel Casey, 9th Infantry, Commanding,
"Fort Steilacoom, W.T.” “P.S.—The Shubrick (1) has rendered us every assistance in her power, and I am much indebted for the kindness of her officers.”
On the 31st Colonel Casey forwarded the three last letters to head-quarters, Department of Oregon, in a note written by himself, in which he said, “ the authorities on the other side are trying to bluff a little, but I do not apprehend anything serious.” On the same day he sent another company of troops to reinforce Captain Pickett on San Juan Island. (9)
(1) The Shubrick was a vessel used by Mr. Campbell for the purposes of the survey.
(2) American State Papers, p. 151.
This account of the first landing of the troops I have compiled from the American State Papers, from which it would appear that it was conceived and carried out by General Harney, without any previous plans, and without the connivance of the United States Government, or of their Commissioner, Mr. Campbell
The impression produced in the minds of many of the inhabitants of Victoria was, however, that the occupation of the island was instigated by Mr. Campbell, who believed it would be expedient to take some such decisive steps to secure the ultimate possession thereof.
Certainly, the behaviour of General Harney, and subsequently the conduct of the Supreme Government, appear to point to the conclusion that the lastnamed officer had good reason for supposing that his action would not be disapproved of. If no previous arrangement had been made it was said), how could General Harney, a Brigadier-General, take upon himself the responsibility of commanding by sea as well as by land, directing the Massachusetts, United States ship of war, to transport troops and howitzers from one point to another, and, subsequently, as will be seen, to convey and land mortars and her own heavy guns? How could these things have been done without the knowledge or consent of the higher naval and military authorities ?
The Governor of Victoria received information of the hostile occupation of the island from Mr. Griffin ; and the excitement in Victoria on receipt of the
intelligence was great. It is due entirely to the temper and judgment of Governor Douglas that a collision did not at once ensue. He immediately placed himself in communication with Captain Prevost, the British Commissioner, and, at his request, the latter went to San Juan in the hope of finding Mr. Campbell, the United States Commissioner. On landing, he had an interview with Captain Pickett, who declared that he was merely acting under orders, that he would prevent any inferior force landing, would fight any equal force, and would protest against any superior force being landed. He stated that he did not know whether the orders under which he acted came originally from Washington, but took it for granted they did, or General Harney would not have taken so decisive a step. Captain Prevost then left, and reported to the Governor, who, after due consideration, determined to protect the interests of this country by landing an equal force upon San Juan, in fact, to do what was afterwards done, establish a joint occupation. He accordingly directed Captain Hornby, commanding Her Majesty's ship Tribune, to communicate with the officer in command of the detachment of the United States troops which had landed on the island, to inquire of him the number of troops under his command, and to land an equal force of British troops. On the 3rd of August Captain Hornby, having arrived at the island, proposed by letter that a meeting should take place between Captain Pickett and himself on board Her Majesty's ship Tribune.
Captain Pickett replied that he would most cheerfully meet them in his camp.
Captain Hornby accordingly landed, with Captains Prevost and Richards, the British Commissioners, and an interview took place between them, the purport of which was subsequently described by Captain Hornby in the following letter, addressed by him to Captain Pickett:0
“ Her Majesty's Ship Tribune,
“ San Juan Island, August 3, 1859. “SIR,—In accordance with your request for a written communication, I have the honour to transmit the substance of the declarations and propositions made by me to you to-day.
“ Having drawn your attention to the extract of a despatch from Mr. Marcy, Secretary of State, to his Excellency Governor Stevens, dated July 14th, 1855, prescribing the conduct that should be pursued by the officers of the United States in respect of the disputed grounds, I asked if that was the tenor of your present instructions, or if the relations of the two states had been placed on other than a friendly footing by any of a more recent date.
“ To this you replied by referring to the date of the despatch.
“I then asked you, in the name of Governor Douglas, the terms on which you had occupied the Island of San Juan; to which you replied that you did so by order of the General commanding,' to protect it as part of the United States territory, and that you believed he acted under orders from the Government at Washington.
“I then presented to you the Governor's protest against any such occupation or claim. I represented to you that the fact of occupying a disputed island by a military force, necessitated a similar action on our part; that again involved the
(1) American State Papers, p. 155.
imminent risk of a collision between the forces, there being a magistrate of each nation now acting on the island, either of whom might call on those of their country for aid.
“To prevent the chance of such collision, I suggested that a joint military occupation might take place, and continue until replies could be received from our respective Governments; and, during such times, that the commanding officers of the forces should control and adjudicate between their respective countrymen, the magistrates being withdrawn on both sides, or the action of their courts suspended for the time being, their employment not being necessary under a joint military occupation.
“I suggested this course as apparently the only one left (short of entire evacuation by the troops under your command) likely to produce the object so much to be desired, viz., the prevention of a collision between the forces or authorities of the two countries, landed or in the harbour of San Juan, an event which must lead to still more disastrous results, by permanently estranging the friendly relations subsisting between Great Britain and the United States of America. You replied that you had not authority to conclude such terms, but suggested the reference of them to General Harney and Governor Douglas, without interference in any way with our liberty of action. I pointed out that my proposition was strictly in accordance with the principles laid down in Mr. Marcy's despatch, and that yours, on the other hand, offered no security against the occurrence of some immediate evil.
“ That the officers of the United States Government had committed an act of aggression by landing an armed force on this island, pending the settlement of our respective claims to its sovereignty, without warning to us, and without giving you a discretionary power of making any necessary arrangements, that the United States and its officers alone must be responsible for any consequences that might result, either immediate or future.
"I agreed to your request to furnish you with the substance of the conversation in writing, and concluded by