Berens to Lytton
Hudson's Bay House
London January 31st 1859
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Earl of Carnarvon’s letter of the 21st instant, transmitting by your directions a copy of a despatch addressed by Lord Napier to the Earl of Malmesbury and dated the 20th December, in which he reports a conversation he had had with General Cass relative to the state of ammunition by the Agents of the Company to the Indian Tribes at war with the United States.
While conveying to you the thanks of myself and the Committee for this communication I take the opportunity ofManuscript imageof requesting your attention to one or two statements in Lord Napier’s letter which are felt to convey an imputation on the conduct of the Officers of the Company which it is believed they have not merited. His Lordship in the course of his observations on the purchase of “Animals and other property from the Savages” assumes not only that the property in question was stolen but that the Hudson’s Bay Officers “bought it with a full knowledge that it had been stolen.”
Now, not only is there no proof beyond the bare assertion of the American authorities that the “Animals and property” in question were stolen at all, but there is strong reason to believe the contrary. Mr. Blenkinsop, the Officer in charge of the Company’s post at Fort Colvile in a letter on the subject, an extract of which I had the honour of transmitting to you on the 15th December last says:
"The"Manuscript image“The mules alluded to by Mr. Owens were said to have been in the hands of the Indians previous to the late outbreak. We are not in the habit of trading property supposed to be stolen either from American Citizens or their Government. If these mules, six in number, can be identified as the property of the latter they will be held in readiness to be delivered over when called for. For my own part I have great doubts on the point, as it is a well known fact that a great many mules were in the possession of the Indians before the commencement of the present War.”
From this it is evident hot only that Mr. Blenkinsop has reason to believe that the animals in question were not stolen but that he has pursued the very course suggested by Lord Napier as the mostManuscript imagemost dignified which could be adopted on the part of the Hudson’s Bay Company, for he has offered to restore the animals in question to “to the United States Army without any demand for remuneration.”
With respect to the charge brought against the Company’s Officers of having sold Ammunition to the Indians who are in hostility with the United States, there is strong reason to believe that it is equally problematical, as I find by Mr. Blenkinsop’s letter already quoted that “since the attack on Col. Steptoe in May last we (the Company’s Officers) have disposed of, to friendly Indians only, a very small quantity of powder, which I am convinced they would have used, if necessary, in the defence of the Settlers themselves, but not a single ball hasManuscript imagehas been given or sold to any Indians whatever during the last five months.” And Mr. Ogden, another of the Company’s officers, in a letter of the 1st September says that “the Spokan and Cour-de-Alene Indians or a great number of them passed through the Flat Head Country (a portion of the United States) last Fall on their way to Fort Benson, where they remained all winter, and came back this Spring with a large quantity of ammunition.”
From this it would appear that the Indians were supplied with ammunition, not by the Company’s Officers, but by the Americans themselves.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your very obedient Servant,
H. H. Berens
The RightHonble
Sir E. B. Lytton, Bart, M. P.
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
Communicate to For. Office.
ABd 2 Feby
HM F 3