Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

concern was to be taken up there and paid for in cotton, and that cotton was to be sent out here. A memorandum in writing was drawn in regard to the enterprise, but whether it was signed I do not know. It was to have been signed by A. & W. Sprague, Reynolds & Co., Hoyt & Prescott. Exactly how Taft & Co. were drawn in I do not recollect. In leaving the firm of A. & W. Spragne I wished to remain interested in this project, because I thought it a cheap and easy method of getting on cotton for our factories. My interest continued only as a stockholder in the Aquidinck Company. But Governor Sprague refused to let me remain interested in this enterprise because, he said, it was a part of the concern that belonged to him by the terms of the contract on which he bought me out of the concern of A. & W. Sprague.

The advertisement of my withdrawal from the firm was November 20, 1862, or later, but the actual retirement was November 7.

I don't know where Hoyt or Prescott may be found now.
Brastow is at Central City, Colorado.

I went aboard of the Ella Warley with a view to her purchase. F. C. Trowbridge received $1,000 for making the purchase.

Hoyt had letters from persons of high position at Washington ; I think from Secretary Chase, but cannot say positively, which Hoyt thought would take him through the lines of the blockade. I don't remember any other Washington voucher.

I don't know whether any cotton ever came out.

I have a memorandum of the debts and credits of the firm of A. & W. Sprague, up to November 7.

Reynolds & Co. were cotton brokers and merchants.

They did not represent much capital. The capital was not to be furnished exclusively by A. & W. Sprague, but I think in quarter parts by them, Reynolds & Co., Orray, Taft & Co., and B. B. & R. Knight.

The Ella Warley was to take freight from New York to Havana, and then proceed from Havana to the Rio Grande, and lay there in neutral water and take the cotton which was to be brought from Texas by Hoyt. The exact details I can't remember.

Statements of William H. Reynolds.

NEW YORK, December 19, 1864. SIR: In compliance with the suggestion of Major Bolles, I now hand you a statement which contains all the facts within my recollection in reference to the adventures to Mexico, in which my associates and myself were interested. It has been prepared without access to my books or papers, but the main facts are correct, and any errors of dates or amounts are immaterial.

Early in the autumn of 1862, Governor Sprague informed me that he had met a person in Washington, from Texas, who had got, or thought he could get, (I do not now remember which,) from our Government a permit to go to some port in Texas, with some cargoes of goods, and return with their proceeds invested in cotton.

Governor Sprague stated that he had requested this man to go to Providence, where I reside, and wished me to see him, and ascertain what could be done.

A few days after my attention had thus been called to this matter by Governor Sprague, Mr. Byron Sprague, a business partner of the Governor's, came to my office in Providence, bringing with him a person whom he introduced to me as Harris Hoyt, of Texas, the person to whom the Governor had referred in his previous conversation with me.

I invited Mr. Hoyt to state what he proposed to do, and what he wanted us (Sprague and myself) to do in the matter, which he did, and which was substantially as follows:

In the first instance he represented himself as a loyal refugee from Texas, stating that previous to his leaving that country he had devoted a great portion of his time, for several months, in assisting loyal families to get out of the country with what property they could take with them. He then produced a letter dated at the Executive Mansion at Washington, and signed by Mr. Hay, the prirate secretary of the President of the United States, recommending him to the confidence of the loyal people of the country

This letter he showed us in order that we might feel that he was not an impostor or an adventurer, but that he was a respectable, loyal citizen, indorsed by the highest officials in Washington.

He said that his present plan and purpose was to connect himself with some responsible mercantile house, able and willing to furnish him capital sufficient to purchase some light-draught vessels and cargoes, with which he would go to Galveston, or some other port in Texas, under a permit which he was to get froin Washington.

On his arrival in Texas he was to represent that he had run the blockade, and said that he would be received with open arms by the people of that State for so doing.

In order to convince the rebel authorities that his sympathies were on their side, he said he should be obliged to buy some old machinery and take with him, which he would have to put up in Texas as a mere “blind.” He said it was of no consequence whether the machinery was good for anything or not, but he must have it, to give color to his statements to be made to the rebel authorities, and that he would pay for it, and for the freight and expenses on it, as a private matter of his own, when he returned.

He stated that on his arrival in Texas he should at once communicate with his Union friends, and tell them that they could exchange with him their cotton for goods, and that any of them who wished to leave Texas could do so with him, when he was ready to return.

He said, in order to insure a complete success of the enterprise, it would be well to buy a steamer, which should be ready to proceed to the point where the cotton was to be collected, and bring it away promptly. I do not remember whether Mr. Byron Sprague heard all the conversation which I had with Hoyt at this time, but believe that he did.

After hearing Mr. Hoyt's views, I had an interview with Governor Sprague; told him it appeared to me that it would be a good operation to go into, provided Hoyt's statements were correct, which I had no doubt of at the time.

Sprague's reply was, “If it is all right, we (meaning A. & W. Sprague) will go into it with you, provided you can get one or two other good houses to join us." Thereupon Byron Sprague and myself submitted the proposition to Messrs. Orray, Taft & Co., and B. B. & R. Knight, both large and respectable business houses of Providence. After con sidering the matter for a day or two, they decided to join us (Sprague's and my own house, Reynolds & Co.) in the enterprise.

In the meantime Hoyt went to New York to see the man who was to be his partnerin the business, Mr. Charles L. Prescott, whom, to that time, we had never seen.

Soon afterward Mr. Hoyt came to Providence again, in company with Prescott, who was introduced to us. In the division of the profits of the enterprise, Hoyt and Prescott were to have one-half, as we were informed, and the parties furnishing the money (Sprague, Taft, Knight, and myself) the other half, and interest on their money.

After full conversation with Hoyt and Prescott, our general arrangements for the enterprise were agreed upon, and Mr. Prescott prepared and gave to me the draught of an agreement to be executed by all the parties. It is in his handwriting, and is now in my possession. A true copy of it, and of every part of it, is hereto annexed, marked No. 1. It was never executed by the parties, but it shows the general plan of operations fully. I refer to this particularly, in order that the views of both Prescott and Hoyt, at that time, may be understood; and this draught agreement, so far as the nature of the proposed business was concerned, expressed the intentions of the parties fully.

I then authorized Prescott and Hoyt to buy two small vessels and cargoes, suitable to the wants of the expedition, and gave instructions to my agent in New York, Mr. James A. Suydam, to pay for such goods and vessels as were bought, and draw on Reynolds & Co. for money, as wanted, or we would remit as often as he should require funds.

I also authorized Prescott to buy a steamer whenever he found one which he considered cheap and adapted to our wants.

Two small vessels were purchased soon after the arrangement bad been perfected between Hoyt, Prescott, and ourselves. The cargoes were also being bought by Hoyt and Prescott, and everything done to forward matters by my agent in New York, to whom, with Hoyt and Prescott, the whole business had been intrusted.

While this business was progressing, Prescott bought the steamer Ella Warley, and commenced putting her in order for sea. All the purchases were made in New York, without the direct intervention of any of the parties in interest except Prescott and Hoyt.

At about this time Mr. Hoyt requested me to go to Washington with him, to see about the permit authorizing shipments to Texas. I went to Governor Sprague, who gave me letters to Secretary Welles, of the Navy Department, and also to the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Chase, introducing myself and Mr. Hoyt, and stating substantially what he (Hoyt) wanted. I discovered before I reached Washington that Hoyt had depended on us entirely to get the permit, instead of having any facilities for procuring such a perinit himself, as he had represented to us in his first interview, and which was what really induced us to embark in the adventure. I called first on Mr. Chase and then on Secretary Welles, taking Hoyt with me, who told his story and requested permission to go to some port in Texas with his vessels, to assist his friends out of the country with such of their property as they might be able to

As an equivalent for the privilege asked for, he proposed to go through the State of Texas and procure valuable information for the Government. I soon found that it was useless to attempt to secure such a permit as we wanted from our Government, and based upon which the whole business had been commenced. I came home and reported the result to my partners in the enterprise.

The question now came up as to what was to be done with our vessels and cargoes. On consultation with Hoyt, it was decided to send them to Matamoras, sell the cargoes and vessels there, and have the proceeds remitted to us in cotton.

The machinery which Hoyt had bought he said he would take on his own account and pay us for the same, including freight and expenses,

save.

[ocr errors]

on his return. The immediate cause for this offer on his part was an objection by me, that it took up too much room in the vessel. The first vessel, schooner Snow Drift, was soon after cleared for Havana, and Hoyt went in her, taking with him official letters from Governor Sprague, then governor of Rhode Island, addressed to all naval and military commanders of our forces. He said he should sell some of the goods there, change the vessel to an English bottom, to avoid danger of capture by confederates, and go to Matamoras with her.

There was no reason for this change of fag, to my knowledge, except that it was alleged by Hoyt that she would be less liable to capture by the rebels if under the English flag. The vessel laid in Havana a long time, and she was finally put under the English flag, and she sailed for Matamoras as the schooner Cora.

In the meantime the other schooner purchased by us, the Citizen, had been loaded, and lay at the pier in New York several weeks. We did not send her off, for the reason that we hoped to obtain permission to send her to some port in Texas so soon as General Banks opened that country to our trade, which was then expected.

During this interval the steamer Ella Warley had been repaired and got ready for sea. Not knowing what better to do with her, we put her up for freight and passengers for Havana.

On the return of the steamer from Havana, Mr. Prescott (who had gone out and returned in her as agent of the owners) informed me that Hoyt was still at Havana with his schooner when the steamer left.

On the arrival of the steamer in Havana she was consigned by Prescott, who was on board representing the owners, to Ulrice & Barroso, the same house to whom Hoyt had consigned his schooner. When the steamer returned from Havana to New York we found Prescott had consigned a portion of the cargo of the Ella Warley to this house for sale; that they had on Prescott's order, without authority from us, given a portion of the cargo and of the proceeds to Mr. Hoyt, and after credit. ing the vessel with all her freight and passage-money, a small balance was still due to the consignees, for which they drew upon us. We paid this draft and notified Messrs. Ulrice & Barroso that neither Prescott or Hoyt or any other person had authority to contract debts on our account.

We paid this draft, fearing that if we did not Mr. Hoyt would be anDoyed and possibly embarrassed by our refusal. After remaining in Havana a long time, Hoyt sailed for Matamoras in the schooner Cora, formerly the Snow Drift. In the meantime the other schooner, the Citizen, had been cleared for New Orleans, with orders to go up the river and remain there without breaking cargo, it being still supposed that we might, with permission of General Banks, in case of his success in opening some Texas port, be able to send direct to that State.

We had decided in the ineantime to send the Ella Warley to New Orleans, and advertised her for freight and passengers. She left New York on this voyage, and on the same night was run into by the steamer North Star, was sunk, and became a total loss, without a dollar's insurance. Thus she was disposed of.

Upon this voyage we had appointed Mr. Henry B. Brastow as our agent to accompany the vessel. No other person had any authority whatever from us, and Mr. Prescott had been discharged. The letter annexed, marked No. 2, is a true copy of our instructions to Mr. Brastow, which I furnish, as I understand that charges have been made or suggested as to the legitimacy of this voyage.

Mr. Hoyt having now been absent several months, without any tid.

ings from him or our goods, we decided to send an agent to Matamoras authorized to receive from Hoyt or bis representatives our goods and vessel, and dispose of them to the best advantage.

About the same time, finding that there was no market in New Orjeans for the cargo of the Citizen, and no prospect of the opening of any port in Texas by our Government, we ordered her to be cleared for Matamoras, and sent a clerk, Mr. Hyer of this city: in her, to deliver vessel and cargo to our agent, Mr. H. B. Brastow, who had been ordered to Matamoras as our general agent.

When Mr. Brastow arrived in Matamoras he found nothing but the Cora, the vessel taken out by Hoyt, lie having previously disposed of or taken away all of her cargo and its proceeds.

This vessel, the Cora, was immediately taken possession of by Brastow and sold by him in Matamoras, to a resident there, for an invoice of medicines which he afterwards disposed of at Matamoras, the proceeds of which he put into cotton and sent it to us at New York.

These medicines were the only ones of which I have any knowledge, and their amount and value, and the account of sale at Matamoras, all appear in the books and papers now in possession of the Government. They were not bought in New York, nor shipped from the United States, to my knowledge, but were, as before stated, the result of the sale of the Cora by Mr. Brastow.

When the Citizen arrived from. New Orleans Mr. Brastow consigned her to Labatt & Joseph, with her cargo, which was landed, and a consular certificate to cancel our bond, given at the New Orleans customhouse, obtained, showing that there was nothing whatever irregular or unusual in the transaction. The Citizen and most of her cargo was sold in Matamoras by Brastow, the proceeds invested by him in cotton, and shipped to New York for our account. When Mr. Brastow left Matamoras for New York, the portion of the cargo of the Citizen remaining unsold was left in the hands of Labatt & Joseph, with orders to dispose of the same as soon as the market would take the goods to advantage, the proceeds to be remitted, in cotton, to New York.

When Mr. Brastow arrived home from Matamoras he told us that we might possibly get our pay from Hoyt; but his opinion was that he was a great scoundrel, as he had been unable to collect any portion of the amount due us for cargo per Cora, nor had he seen him.

As near as I can now remember, some time in January of this year Mr. Hoyt arrived in New York, after an absence of some fourteen mouths. I learned he was here and came on to see him.

He complained bitterly of the treatment which he had received at our hands, and insisted upon knowing why Brastow had been sent out with authority to sell his vessel and the other cargo which was originally intended for him. I told him frankly that we had made up our minds that he (Hoyt) was a dishonest man, and that the only way we should ever get anything was to have an agent there whom we knew would represent our interests and deal honestly by us. In reply he said we had acted in bad faith with him; that he had done all he could; and had be been left to consummate and carry out his own plaus everything would have turned out well,

He then said he should pay us for our goods per Cora and have nothing more to do with us; that he had plenty of friends, and he also intimated that he had been prosperous in his business. He told me at this time that during his residence in Texas he had assisted a large number of Union families to escape, and that he had also been of great service to the general commanding our forces in that department, for which

« PředchozíPokračovat »