Appendix "A"
Letters from Marshall Roberts seeking payment for the use of the Illinois; it is not known whether he ever received any compensation



NEW YORK, April 15, 1862.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

SIR: I had the honor to receive your dispatch of the 24th ultimo, stating that--

The Department approves the course of Flag-Officer Goldsborough in accepting the annulling of the contract between the owners of the steamer Illinois and the Department for the charter of said steamer, and that, in view of all the circumstances in the case, it does not feel justified in allowing any pay from the date specified in the charter party.

There are circumstances connected with the charter of the Illinois and occurrences which led to the alleged annulling of the charter party not known to the Department at the date of your dispatch which I beg leave to bring to your attention, in the confident hope that they may afford sufficient ground for a reconsideration of the action of the Department, and justify an allowance of pay from the date specified in the charter party.

When application was made for the Illinois by the Department she was under charter to the War Department as a dispatch vessel. Although at somewhat less per diem pay, this service was less hazardous to the ship and the ship's company than the present. The release from that contract was obtained by the Navy Department, and she was speedily dispatched to Fortress Monroe, under the charter of March 17.

At the time of sailing her officers and crew, except Captain Barton, were not informed of the actual purpose of the charter, because at that time it was not thought expedient to disclose it. In fact, I considered myself precluded by injunctions from a high quarter from divulging it to anyone except the captain. But to guard against the refusal by any of the ship's company to serve on the arrival of the steamer at her place of destination, the charter party provided that the Department should be allowed "the right to put on board any officers and men to take the place of any officers or crew who should refuse to go under fire." This provision of the charter party was relied upon as a resource, should any of the officers or crew refuse to serve when informed of the object of the charter.

Accompanying this are the depositions of Captain Barton and Purser Roberts, stating the occurrences from the time of shipping the officers and crew of the Illinois in New York to her arrival in Hampton Roads on the 18th March, and to her return to New York on the 24th of that month, together with all the correspondence between Flag-Officer Goldsborough and Captain Barton; by which it will be seen that Captain Barton, in his letter of the 20th March, informed Commodore Goldsborough that five of the officers of his ship, viz, the captain, first mate, first engineer, purser, and steward, had determined to remain on board. This letter had not been received at the Department at the date of your dispatch of the 24th March.

It will be seen also that Captain Barton and Purser Roberts exerted themselves to induce the crew to remain, and did prevail upon twelve, in addition to the five already mentioned, to continue on board.

The subsequent difference of views was no doubt the result of mutual misunderstanding.

Captain Poor having taken command of the ship, Captain Barton, in his tender of the ship to the flag-officer, supposed he was acting in obedience to the conditions of the charter party, and after his avowed determination to remain on board the ship and aid in running down the Merrimack, and after the efforts he had made to secure the services of his officers and men, I am unwilling to suspect him of any intention to prevent the ship from carrying out the object of the Department.

Captain Barton is a loyal citizen of worth and of well-known rectitude, and has been upward of twenty years in the service of Mr. Moses Taylor, a gentleman of the highest character, and one of the most extensive and honorable shipping merchants in the city of New York. He supposed, as I supposed, that on the refusal of any of the officers and men to serve, their places would be supplied by the flag-officer, or by any officer of the Navy that should be placed in command of the ship, and that it was his duty to tender the ship to the Government. But he was wholly without authority to annul the charter party; and had not the course of the flag-officer been approved by the Department, I should doubt his power to accept an unauthorized abrogation of the charter.

I ought, perhaps, not to omit to add that the difficulties of shipping a crew for the return of the Illinois to Fortress Monroe were considerably aggravated by the arrival of the crew of the Arago, who, having quit their ship, returned to New York, and prevailed upon the fresh crew of the Illinois to refuse to serve, and nearly a day elapsed before their places could be supplied.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,






NEW YORK, June 6, 1862.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

SIR: I have read carefully the statement(*) of Mr. Fox in reply to my letter previously addressed to the Department in relation to the charter of the steamship Illinois, and regret to say that between that gentleman and myself there is an entire misunderstanding of the material facts as he relates them. I beg leave to submit herewith my understanding at the time, hoping that the facts may be found to justify my conclusions.

On Saturday, March 15, Mr. O. S. Halsted called at my office to say that the Government wanted to hire or purchase the steamship Illinois for an extra hazardous employment, and said Mr. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, was then in the city, at the Astor House, sent by the President for that purpose, and advised me to see him at once. I stated to him that the Illinois was then in the Government service, but still in port. At Mr. Halsted's urgent solicitation, who insisted that the business of the Government would admit of no delay, I went to the Astor House, found Mr. Fox in his room, and informed him of my earnest desire to meet the wishes of the Department in every way in my power, and expressed the desire that he would freely command my time.

I said, "Do you wish to charter or purchase steamships?" He answered by asking, "What ships are here?" I replied, "I have two, the Illinois and Philadelphia, and know of no others except the Vanderbilt and Havre lines." He answered, "But the Atlantic will be back to-morrow." I said, "Do you want the Illinois?" He answered, "I do not know. Is she not already in the service of the War Department?" I replied, "Yes, but perhaps that may be changed, if important." But I could get no answer from Mr. Fox to show the least possible desire to employ the ship.

On leaving Mr. Fox's room, he followed me out to the hall of the Astor House (his room being on the same floor with the hall and office). Still hoping he might suggest to me some mode of serving my Government, I walked with him more than ten minutes up and down the hall, but got nothing from him beyond the remark that he was then going up the river to West Point, and expected to return to Washington on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday morning, 16th, a messenger called at my house, saying the quartermaster wished to see me at his office, upon reaching which, Captain Stinson handed me a letter, of which the following is a copy:


New York, March 15, 1862.



Owner of the Steamer Illinois, New York.

SIR: I have been directed by the Secretary of War to turn over the steamer Illinois to the Navy Department. You will therefore please consider her as in the service of that Department from 12 o'clock m. to-morrow.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

 D. D. TOMPKINS, Assistant Quartermaster-General.


On reading the above letter, I was at a loss to know what to do; the Illinois being transferred to the Navy Department, not discharged, as was the usual mode of procedure. I told Captain Stinson that I was greatly embarrassed, but was ready to take any course that would facilitate the object of the Navy Department. He said, "Have you not seen Mr. Fox?" I replied, "Yes, for some time yesterday, but he told me he was going up the river, and did not appear to want the Illinois for his Department for any purpose whatever, although he did not say so." Captain Stinson said, "Get the Illinois ready for sea; I know they want her." Not willing to take so much responsibility, I called and con-suited my friend Moses Taylor, who advised me to get the ship ready, and in the absence of her regular captain, said he would authorize Captain Barton, who had been in his employ for a quarter of a century, to take her to sea.

Mr. Taylor and myself, notwithstanding it was Sunday, proceeded at once to the ship to get her ready for service, without regard to expense or labor. Fagged and tired, I reached my house at nearly 4 o'clock p.m. and learned for the first time that Mr. Fox had been there twice and would return. In five minutes he was announced, and I met him in my library. Then for the first time he said he wanted the Illinois for immediate service, and asked if she was ready for sea, and if she could leave early the next morning. I answered that she was ready, and could sail at the time named. He then said, "I will take her at the same rate of compensation paid by the quartermaster." This, you are aware, was $1,200 per day, as dispatch vessel, with no more than the ordinary risk. I answered that the service was different, much more hazardous and costly, and worth more money than that. He said he would give no more and left the room, proceeding down the stairs, followed by myself. At the foot of the stairs, I said, "You have succeeded in procuring the ship's discharge from the service of the War Department, and as you do not want her, I will go down and inform the people on board and discharge the crew, but regret to do it, not only because I have been put to expense and some trouble to get her in readiness for this duty, but because I wish to do the Government any service in my power." He replied," I will give you the same price paid for the Arago, $1,300 per day." I agreed to this proposition, although the Illinois was a better conditioned ship and more expensive to run.

I state these particulars because it may be inferred from Mr. Fox's statement that the difference in compensation between the two Departments was greater. I then said, "Mr. Fox, I understand the purpose for which you intend to use the ship, and I think her perfectly competent to run down the Merrimack, but," said I, "suppose any of the crew should refuse to go under fire." He answered, "That is all provided for in the contract, which you will obtain from Mr. Isaac Bell, and let your own copy correspond with that, but let the Illinois leave early to-morrow morning. The Arago can not be got ready for several days, as they have some repairs to make to her boilers."

I called at the house of Mr. Bell and obtained a copy of the contract, and enquired if anything had been said to him about the service to be rendered by the Illinois or the Arago. He replied, "Not one word." Having received my information on that subject from Mr. Halsted in confidence, I did not feel at liberty to mention it to anyone except Captain Barton. My son, a lad of 18, who desired to go out in the ship, was not informed of the nature of the voyage. Had I stated it to the crew of the Illinois, many of them probably would not have gone out in the ship, and she would have been delayed over the day named, and as I supposed any such contingency was provided for by the arrangement with the Department I did not feel at liberty to disclose it, especially as its publicity might do mischief in other respects.

The contract distinctly covered all the points. The Assistant Secretary will not deny that this is the contract under which the Illinois sailed, and I most respectfully refer the honorable Secretary to it, on file in the Department.

If it was expected the crew would be shipped expressly to run down the Merrimack, why provide in the charter for the emergency of their refusing, on reaching their destination, to go under fire?

The charter party provides for precisely the emergency which happened, showing, in the opinion of both parties, that it was likely to occur under the circumstances. The men were shipped without knowing that the ship was to go under fire, and it was in the contemplation of both parties that more or less of them, when they should ascertain this, would refuse to serve; and in that event the Government, not the undersigned, was to supply the deficiency. That it was so understood will be apparent by the fact that the flag-officer sent on board several men, besides Commander Poor, who immediately called up the ship's company and announced not only the purpose of the ship, but that he was in command.

Mr. Fox argues his case with all the skill and zeal of an advocate. In order to show that I could not have been restrained from avowing the object of the charter of the Illinois and thus shipping a crew expressly for that purpose by any consideration of the confidential nature of the service, or by any injunction of secrecy, he asserts at three different times (on pages 2, 4, and 9) that I stated in the interview at my house, before making the contract, "that it would be necessary for me to inform the people on board of the service expected from them, as they might object to going in the vessel on such duty." Had I said this, and then omitted to inform them, I might think myself as delinquent, as Mr. Fox charges me with being. But no such intimation was made, or any such thought entertained for a moment by me. All that transpired in the two interviews between us is as stated above.

As stated in my letter of the 15th of April, I felt myself precluded from disclosing the nature of the service by the intimation through Mr. Halsted, as I then supposed from a high official source. But had no such intimation been made, the urgency of the service, the late hour (Sunday afternoon, and the sailing hour next morning), and the belief that the provision in the charter that the place of anyone refusing to "go under fire" could be supplied by the flag-officer, would probably have deterred me from raising the question at that time. I can only explain the discrepancy by assuming that Mr. Fox has inadvertently confounded my remark--when I supposed his intention was not to charter the ship, after having withdrawn her from the War Department--that I must "inform the ship's people on board and discharge the men" with the unreal declaration which he puts in my mouth.

Upon a review of the entire case I have no fault to find with myself, but I greatly regret that there should be any misunderstanding with Mr. Fox.

Nor can I consider myself responsible for the occurrences at Fortress Monroe, nor for the surrender of the charter by Captain Barton, or the acceptance of such surrender by Commodore Goldsborough, or that I ought to be subjected to all its consequences.

While, therefore, I make no claim for the ship's service from the day the charter was annulled by the unauthorized act of Captain Barton (22d March) to the date of the second charter (28th of that month), I can not but think that the first charter should be held to be in operation during the time the ship was in the actual service of the Navy Department, viz, from the 17th to the 22d March.

I beg leave, also, in conclusion to say that the price fixed for the service of the steamship Illinois is less remunerative than any other commercial employment involving the same amount of capital invested, and I here declare that I would not for the whole of it have a personal difficulty with the Navy Department.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,



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