Report by Silas Duncan Commander U.S.S. Lexington sent to Navy Secretary Levi Woodbury

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Report to Navy Secretary Levi Woodbury  (1832) 
by Silas Duncan
Source. Transcription by Lyubomir Ivanov.
                     Report by Silas Duncan
                 Commander U.S.S. Lexington
           sent to Navy Secretary Levi Woodbury
                             on 4 April 1832

   (transcription and underlined text as per the original document)


                                                         U.S.S. Lexington
                                                           Off Monte Video
                                                                 River Plate
                                                               Feb 3rd 1832
         Sir

                       I arrived here yesterday from the Falklands
Islands and have now the honor to enclose duplicates of my
communication to the Department of the 2nd Dec. 1831 – in
Relation to the Capture of some of our fishing Vessels at
and about those Islands. –

         In conformity to my intentions I proceeded to Berkeley
Sounds, East Falklands, in order to ascertain the facts in
connexion with these proceedings and for the purpose of af–
fording the proper protection to our Citizens and Commerce,
and particularly to protect the American Fisheries in the
Southern Ocean. –

         Upon my arrival in Berkeley Sound East Falkland, – I
investigated the matters in question and finding them to be
of the most inquisitous and illegal character, – I determined
to break up and disperse this band of pirates, many of whom
had been sent from the prisons of Buenos Ayres and Monte
Video, and were thus let lose to prey upon a peaceable and
industrious part of our community under the direction of
Louis Vernet and Mathew Brisbane.

         I have confined the individuals engaged in these
transactions, who could be identified, and have besides
brought off the whole of the population consisting of about
forty persons, with the exception of some Gou chors or
Horsemen who were encamped in the interior, and are employed
killing cattle. –

         But in taking this step I have consulted their own wishes,
and they have embarked on board the Lexington by general consent;
they say they have been deceived by Vernet and others, who
have kept many of them upon the Island contrary to their
inclinations and appeared greatly Rejoiced at the opportunity
thus presented of Removing with their families from a desolate
Region where the climate is always cold and cheerless and the
soil extremely unproductive.

         These individuals some of whom have families, come from
Buenos Ayres and Monte Video, also, and are principally
Germans; they appear to be industrious and well disposed persons.
I have landed a part of them at Monte Video and intend sending
the remainder to Buenos Ayres by the first Conveyance. –

         I have now on board as prisoners seven individuals who
are charged with illegally capturing and plundering the
Schooner Harriet, as will appear by the affidavits of Captain


                                                                          (page 2)
G.R. Davison late master of the Harriet – Marked No.3. –
These men will be detained on board the Lexington until some
orders shall have been given with Respect to them from the
Navy Department or the Senior officer of the Brazil Station –

         I found a Schooner lying in Berkeley Sound (East
Falklands) intended there is no doubt to have been fitted out
to suppress our fisheries in the Southern Ocean. – She had
been sent from the U. States for Sale but the purchase not
having been completed. I put on board of her Gilbert R.
Davison late Master of the Schooner Harriet and two additional
Seamen and directed her (with concurrence of the Master) to
proceed to the Island of Staten land for the relief of Seven
American Seamen who had been left there without the means of
subsistance, in consequence of the Captain of their vessel,
the Schooner Superior, by Vernet. –

         I found some guns lying near to the beach which I
suppose were intended to have been put on board the Schooner
as these men have declared it to be their intention to fit
out a vessel for the purpose of putting a stop to the
American Whale and Sealing Fisheries in these Seas. The guns
have been rendered useless – for any hostile purposes.–

         I also found a small Schooner on the coast of East
Falkland, navigated by a part of the Crew of the American
Schooner Belville, wreck'd on the coast of Patagonia. – These
men had built this Small Vessel or Shallop of 20 or 30 Tons
after the loss of their vessel and were seized and made prisoners
by Vernet and his associates and compelled to enter into their
Service. – I supplied them with Such Articles as they were in
want of, and after repairing and fitting out their vessel,
directed them to relieve their companions who had been left
fishing about the rocks and small Islands and then proceed to
the Coast of Brazil or the U. States as they would not be
allowed to navigate the high Seas without the necessary
documents from some Competent Authority. – See No.5.–

         I have communicated directly with the Department for the
reason that I have been separated from the Senior Officer of the
Brazil Squadron, and have deem'd it proper to give the Department
the earliest information on these proceedings.–

         The documents herewith enclosed and marked and numbered
as follows.–

No. 1 – Duplicate copies of the dispatches dated Dec. 2nd 1831 –
No. 2 – Circular issued at the Falkland Islands to the
inhabitants and others. –
No. 3 – Copies of the affidavits made by Gilbert H. Davison late
master of the American Schooner Harriet
No. 4 – Copy of an instrument in writing purporting to be an
agreement between Louis Vernet and the Crew of the Schooner
Belville wreck'd on the coast of Patagonia.–


                                                                          (page 3)
No. 5 – Copy of a Sea letter given to a Small Schooner built by
the Crew of the American Schooner Belville, wreck'd on the
Coast of Patagonia, which Crew had been compelled by Vernet
and others to enter into their employ.
No. 6 – Copy of a Certificate given by some of the inhabitants
at the Falkland Islands.–
No. 7 – A list of Articles taken from the Schooner Harriet
by Louis Vernet and Mathew Brisbane and others.–
No. 8 – Copy of a letter to Geo W. Slacum, U.S. Consul Buenos
Ayres dated Feb 2nd 1832.–

         I intend leaving this place for Rio de Janeiro in about
a week.


       Answered 3d April.
                                                I have the Honor
                                                to be with great respect
                                                          Yr Ob. Servt

Hon: Levi Woodbury                       Ansd  4 April 1832
 Secretary of the Navy                           S. Duncan
     Washington                               Commng U.S.S. Lexington