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time after leaving we were met by the steamer Active, on her way to Fort Steilacoom, for the purpose of communicating to me the state of affairs on the island. I was strongly and solemnly advised by Captain Alden, in view of the momentous consequences that might arise, not to land any troops on the island, as this would be prevented by the British steam-ship of war, Tribune, who, with her fires constantly kept up, was lying with her broadside on the landing.
“ Although fully appreciating the terrible consequences of a hostile collision with our quasi enemy, which would probably be no less than involving two great nations in war, I did not, under the circumstances, however, consider myself at liberty to disregard my orders, and accordingly resolved to land under the guns of the frigate. The commencing hostilities should be on their side. We left Port Townshend about twelve o'clock the night of the 9th, expecting to reach San Juan early on the morning of the 10th. The fog, however, came up so dense, that we did not make the island of San Juan until about seven o'clock the morning of the 10th.
“ After hugging the shore for a few miles, I was informed by the captain that we were but a short distance from Captain Pickett's camp, and that it was difficult to get along, on account of the fog, and that, moreover, the tide was so low that he would not have been able to have gotten up to the wharf at the landing for several hours.
“ Finding ourselves in a smooth place near the land, with the coast so depressed at the point as to make the ascent from the shore easy, I landed the troops and howitzers, with orders to the senior officer to move them to Captain Pickett's camp.
“I proceeded on the steamer around to the wharf, taking with me my adjutant and a small guard for the howitzer ammunition and other public property.
“I found the Tribune lying as has been described. They did not interfere with the landing of our freight; whether they would have interfered with the landing of the troops I cannot say. It is Captain Pickett's opinion that they would.
“Before I had landed from the steamer I received a mes
sage from Captain Pickett, by one of his officers, requesting my presence at once in camp. The captain pointed out to me a British war steamer, ascertained afterwards to be the Satellite, which he was under the impression was about taking a position to shell the camp. The camp is situated on a narrow neck of land opposite to the harbour, and distant about twothirds of a mile. The Tribune, lying in the harbour, had on board several hundred men, composed of Marines, Royal Artillery, and Sappers and Miners. He expected the land attack from the harbour side, and was prepared to fire upon them with his howitzers, and then spike them, deliver fire with his musketry, and retreat to the woods. Not having time to form any well considered plan of my own with regard to the state of affairs, I did not countermand the directions that Captain Pickett had given, seeing the danger of a collision at any moment, which would inevitably lead to war between two mighty nations connected by so many common bonds, and, whichever way it might terminate, would be eminently disastrous to the cause of civilisation and the interests of humanity. I resolved to make an attempt to prevent so great a calamity. I sent an officer aboard the Tribune, with a request that Captain Hornby, the commander, would call on me at my camp for the purpose
of a conference. “ The message returned to me by Captain Hornby was that he was much engaged at that time, and would come if he could conveniently, but would be happy to see me on board his vessel. However, in a few hours the Captain came, accompanied by Captain Prevost, the British, and Mr. Campbell, the United States Commissioner.
“I informed Captain Hornby that I had landed that morning with a force of United States troops, and explained to him the reason why I had not landed at the wharf under the guns of the frigate.
“I also said to him that I regretted that Captain Pickett had been so much harassed and threatened in the position he had occupied. I inquired of Captain Hornby who the officer highest in command was, and where he was to be found. He
said it was Admiral Baynes, and that he was then on board the flag-ship Ganges, in Esquimault harbour. I intimated a wish to have a conference with the Admiral, and that I would go down to Esquimault harbour the next day, for the purpose of the interview. Both the Captain and the British Commissioner seemed pleased. The next day, accompanied by Captain Pickett (both of us in full uniform), and Mr. Campbell, I went down to Esquimault, on the steamer Shubrick. We anchored near the Ganges. I sent to the Admiral, by an officer, the note marked A. I received in reply the note marked B. The note marked C was taken on board by Captain Pickett, and handed to the Admiral in person. The Captain was courteously received by the Admiral. Governor Douglas was present in the cabin. After reading the note the Admiral handed it to the Governor. The Governor inquired if I knew he was on board the ship. The Captain replied that he had no reason to suppose I did, but that I had not sought an interview with him, but with the Admiral. The Captain informed the Admiral that the steamer was then firing up, but that I would be happy to wait, should he then desire to give me the conference. It was declined; but the Admiral reiterated his desire that he would be happy to see me on board the ship. I was of opinion that I had carried etiquette far enough in going twenty-five miles to see a gentleman who was disinclined to come one hundred yards to see me.
“The proposition which I intended to have made the Admiral was this : to calm the rising excitement on both sides among the people, and to give time for the intentions of the home Government to be made known in regard to the matter, I intended to propose that in case he (the Admiral) would pass his word on honour that no threats should be made, or molestation given, by the force under his command, for the purpose of preventing Captain Pickett from carrying out the orders and instructions with which he is intrusted, I would recommend to the commanding General the withdrawal of the reinforcement which had landed on the island under my command, and that affairs should so remain until the sovereign
authorities should announce their intentions. I have so far had no further intercourse with any of the officers of the fleet. Lieutenant Kellog, 3rd Artillery, being at Fort Steilacoom, on the reception of your order I directed him to accompany me in charge of the artillery. I trust that, under the circumstances, the General commanding will approve of my course in the matter.
“The Massachusetts arrived to-day, with Major Haller's command on board. Inasmuch as most of the subsistence stores here are spoiled, having been damaged on board the Massachusetts, before she landed them at Bellingham Bay, and the articles of the quartermaster's department being required, I shall direct the Massachusetts to proceed, as soon as the guns are landed, to Fort Townshend, and take from there all the public property, leaving a sergeant and two or three privates to take care of the buildings and garden. I enclose a list of the ships and men which the British have in this vicinity. I would advise that the general send an officer express to San Francisco, requesting the naval captain in command to send up any ships of war he may have on the coast.
It is not pleasant to be at the mercy of any one who is liable at any moment to become your open enemy. The British have a sufficient naval foree here to effectually blockade this island when they choose. I do not know what the intentions of the British naval authorities with respect to this island are. I shall resist any attack they may make upon my position. I request that five full companies of regular troops, with an officer of engineers and a detachment of sappers, be sent here as soon as possible. Let Lieutenant Kellog's be one of the companies. I have enclosed copies of communications from Major Haller, with regard to his operations with the Indians. I think the major exercised a commendable enterprise in his operations, and that there will be no further difficulty. “Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
« SILAS CASEY,
“ Lieutenant-Colonel 9th Infantry. “ Captain Alfred Pleasonton, Acting Assistant Adjutant
“General, Fort Vancouver, W.T.”
At this period Rear-Admiral Baynes, in command of the British fleet in the Pacific, had under him five ships, carrying an aggregate of 167 guns, and upwards of 2,000 men. This force included sappers and miners and marines. He appears to have contented himself, however, with a demonstration of his force, and this notwithstanding the orders of Governor Douglas that a landing of British troops should be effected. The Admiral was complimented by the British Government for the line of conduct adopted by him. If the Governor had the full powers of a British Colonial Governor, surely the refusal of Admiral Baynes to carry out the orders issued to him would have been an act of disobedience to superior authority, for which he could not, I should think, have been justly complimented.
On the 14th of August Colonel Casey wrote the following despatch to head-quarters :0) “ Head-quarters, Camp Pickett, San Juan Island, W.T.,
“August 14, 1859. “ CAPTAIN, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your two communications, dated the 8th August, and also Special Orders No. 82. Since my last nothing of moment has transpired. The Tribune and Satellite are now in the harbour, with their broadsides on the landing. I have not been informed what the intentions of the British force in these
(1) American State Papers, p. 167.