AN act of Congress passed during the late rebellion (July 13th, 1861), prohibited all commercial intercourse between the inhabitants of any State which the President might declare in a state of insurrection, and the citizens of the rest of the United States; and enacted that all merchandise coming from such territory into other parts of the United States with the vessel conveying it should be forfeited.
The act provided, however, that 'the President' might 'in his discretion license and permit commercial intercourse' with any such part of a State the inhabitants of which had been so declared in a state of insurrection, 'in such articles, and for such time, and by such persons, as he, in his discretion, may think most conducive to the public interest.' And that 'such intercourse, so far as by him licensed, shall be conducted and carried on only in pursuance of rules and regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury.'
The President having soon after declared several Southern States, and among them Alabama, in a state of insurrection, and the Secretary of the Treasury having issued a series of commercial regulations*fn1
on the subject of intercourse with them, Brott, Davis & Shons, a commercial firm of New Orleans, obtained from Mr. G. S. Dennison, special agent of the Treasury Department, and acting collector of customs at New Orleans, a paper, dated February 16th, 1863, as follows:
'The United States military and other authorities at New Orleans permit cotton to be received here from beyond the United States military lines, and such cotton is exempt from seizure or confiscation. An order is in my hands from Major-General Banks approving and directing this policy. The only condition imposed is that cotton or other produce must not be bought with specie. All cotton or other produce brought hither from the Confederate lines by Brott, Davis & Shons will not be interfered with in any manner, and they can ship it direct to any foreign or domestic port.'
This paper was indorsed by Rear Admiral Farragut, in command of the blockading force on that coast, 'Approved.' The Rear Admiral had given also the following instructions to his commander of the Mobile blockade:
'Should any vessel come out of Mobile and deliver itself up as the property of a Union man desiring to go to New Orleans, take possession and send it into New Orleans for an investigation of the facts, and if it be shown to be as represented, the vessel will be considered a legal trader, under the general order permitting all cotton and other produce to come to New Orleans.'
With the first quoted of these documents in their possession, Brott, Davis & Shons addressed the following communication, dated March 9th, 1863, to one Worne; he being at this time a member of the firm of Oliver & Worne, who were engaged in business in New Orleans; Danes by birth:
'All cotton and other produce shipped from within the Confederate lines to our address by yourself, as our agent, will be protected by us under authority from the military and naval authority of this place, dated February 16th, 1863, permitting us to receive such cargoes and to reship them to foreign ports. The original permit alluded to we herewith inclose to you.'
On accepting from Brott, Davis & Shons, the agency, Oliver & Worne proceeded to Mobile for the purpose, as such agents, to ship cotton to some place; where? was one of the questions raised.
At Mobile Worne transferred his agency to Hohenstein & Co.
These persons, upon assuming the employment passed over to them, bought a schooner, 'The Sea Lion,' of about ninety tons. And, on the oath of 'M. D. Eslava, of Mobile,' the vessel was registered under an 'act to provide for the regulation of vessels owned in whole or in part by citizens of the Confederate States,' as the property of Hohenstein & Co., 'the only owners.' On this schooner they laded two hundred and seventy bales of cotton. A small shipment (seven barrels) of turpentine was also put on board. They selected for captain a certain Netto, a Spanish subject, born in Mahon, unmarried, for four years previous to 1863 resident in Mobile, but for six years before coming there sailing on Spanish ships; one Yokum (a partner of Hohenstein), originally of the loyal States, but after 1856 of Memphis, Tennessee, being appointed by Oliver & Worne supercargo. The crew, seven in number, were from Mobile, and all Spanish but one, he being English.
The vessel being thus ready for a voyage, Oliver & Worne gave to Yocum, the supercargo, letters of introduction to persons in New Orleans.
F. BROTT, ESQ., Of Brott, Davis & Shons, New Orleans
DEAR SIR: I beg to introduce to your acquaintance Mr. N. Yocum, who visits your city on business. I recommend Mr. Yocum to your best attentions, and trust that you will assist him in his purposes, which he will explain to you verbally. Mr. Yocum is the senior of the firm of J. Hohenstein & Co., your agents for cotton shipments.
Trusting that lively business transactions between your respective firms may be the result of your meeting with Mr. Yocum,
MASON PILCHER, ESQ., President of Bank of New Orleans.
DEAR SIR: By the present I beg to introduce to your acquaintance Mr. N. Yocum, who visits your city on business. I recommend Mr. Yocum to your best attention, and trust that you will please to assist him in his purposes, which he will explain to you verbally.
DEAR SIR: The present will be handed to you by Mr. N. Yocum, who takes out some cotton. I would write to you more fully on this subject, but deem it advisable to let Mr. Yocum explain this transaction to you.
He intends purchasing a steamer. If the one you had at Havana is still unsold, Mr. Yocum may buy her, if you can recommend her as thoroughly seaworthy, and in every respect in good order. I mentioned to him your price, $40,000 at New Orleans.
Your friend D. is at Atlanta. It was absolutely impossible for us to obtain any vessel here. Furthermore, heavy bonds were required to obtain permission to take out cargo, and he deemed it advisable to invest in some favorable enterprise in Georgia,*fn2
temporarily, until we could find some opportunity to do so here. He is well and sends his best regards.
Please show your best attentions to Mr. Yocum, and assist him as much as you possibly can. He is under heavy bonds to take his shipment to Havana. You will, therefore, please to have it immediately released and cleared for that port.
Please hand the inclosure to address, with my best compliments.
You can rely implicitly on Mr. Youcum in all he says. It will ...