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Doc. 21.-capture of the “Caleb Cushing,”


In the harbor of Portland, me., June 27, 1863.

Portland, June 29, 1863.
since the fight between the Enterprise and Boxer, in our waters, during the last war with Great Britain, there has not been so much excitement in this city as there was last Saturday.

Early in the morning it was reported that the revenue cutter Caleb Cushing had been surreptitiously taken out of the harbor. Various rumors were afloat respecting it. One was that Lieut. Davenport, who is a Georgian by birth, had run away with her. The cutter had been seen between five and six o'clock in the morning, proceeding outward, through Hussey's Sound, towed by boats, as the wind was very light, and [129] from the Observatory all her movements could distinctly be seen.

Mr. Jewett, Collector of the Port, was informed of the circumstances a little after eight o'clock, and before nine o'clock he had three steamers employed in searching for the vessel, and discovering her position. Without any delay, he chartered the steamers Forest City, of the Portland and Boston line, the steamer Casco, the steamtug Tiger, and the steamer Chesapeake, of the Portland and New-York line. Two rifled twelve-pounders were placed on board the Forest City, obtained from Fort Preble, and two six-pounders from the Arsenal, by Mayor McLellan, on board the Chesapeake. A detachment of soldiers from the Seventh Maine,. under command of Adjutant Nickerson, was placed on board the tug. A detachment of the Seventeenth United States regulars from Fort Preble was placed on board the Forest City, and a detachment of the Seventh Maine on board the Chesapeake, the latter being accompanied by Colonel Mason and Captain Henry Warren. Hundreds of our citizens volunteered to go in the steamers, who were furnished with arms by the Mayor; among them the Rev. Mr. Lovering, of Park street church.

The Forest City left Fort Preble about a quarter before eleven o'clock. She was watched from the Observatory, which was crowded with citizens, by Mr. Moodey, who watched all her movements, as well as those of the cutter, the latter being seen hauling off south by west. At a quarter before twelve o'clock the first flash was seen to come from the thirty-two-pounder of the cutter, and in fifty seconds the report was distinctly heard. The cutter and the Forest City were off Bangs's Island, about ten miles distant. Several more guns were fired by the cutter, but they seemed to have no effect upon the steamer, as she kept steadily on, approaching the cutter.

In the mean time the Chesapeake had got under way, and was fast steaming down to the scene of the conflict. As she approached it, the Forest City let off steam, and waited for her to come up, when arrangements were made between the steamers to board the cutter. The cutter kept up her firing for a short time, when, finding that she would be carried by boarding, she was deserted, after being set on fire. She burned some time before the flames reached the magazine, and about a quarter before two o'clock blew up with a loud explosion, which shook buildings in the city. The Chesapeake, as she bore down upon the cutter, fired her two guns at her without effect.

Captain Liscomb, of the Forest City, reports that his steamer came within gunshot of the cutter about half an hour before the Chesapeake got along. The cutter fired at her six times without showing any flag. The Forest City then laid to, waiting, for the Chesapeake to come up. When the latter arrived, after consultation, it was agreed t) board the cutter, the Chesapeake being a propeller, and being protected by cotton bales on deck, to lead the way. On proceeding to carry this plan into execution, the rebels discovered the purposes of the steamers, became frightened, and abandoned the cutter, after setting fire to her. They went in two boats, sending the cutter's crew, who were in irons, off in a separate boat. The two boat-loads of rebels steered for Harpswell, but were pursued and picked up by the Forest City. There were twenty-three persons in the two boats. The Forest City also picked up a small boat containing Mr. Bibber, who had been set adrift from the cutter-he having been captured with his partner from a small fishing-boat Friday off Damascove Island. Mr. Bibber informed Captain Liscomb that he was captured by the schooner Archer, of Southport, which vessel was in possession of a rebel crew from the pirate Tacony. That the schooner came in Friday, and anchored below Munjoy, intending to burn the two new gunhoats, and to cut out the revenue cutter and the steamer Forest City. This they found themselves unable to do, but at two o'clock Saturday morning they boarded the cutter quietly, seized the small portion of her crew aboard, put them in irons, and made their way out of the harbor through Hussey's Sound, thus avoiding the fire of the forts.

Learning this, Captain Liscomb immediately pursued the Archer, which was making her way to the eastward as rapidly as the light breeze would permit, and captured her, finding three rebels and Mr. Bibber's partner on board. She was towed up to the city by the Forest City.

Captain Bibber reports that, in his opinion, there are three or more schooners upon the coast with rebel crews, destroying our fishermen. The Archer had only a howitzer on board, and the schooners are probably lightly armed. He also reports a rebel steamer on the coast. The Forest City passed a suspicious black steamer off Cape Porpoise at two o'clock Saturday morning, when coming from Boston, which first made for the Forest City, but afterward kept away to the south-west.

The Forest City arrived up about half-past 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon. She, as well as the Chesapeake, was received with great enthusiasm by the citizens. She was armed with two rifled twelve-pounders, with thirty soldiers from Fort Preble, and one hundred volunteer armed citizens. She did not get near enough to hit the cutter, and the cutter's shots, though coming very close, fell a little short.

The steamers would undoubtedly have carried the cutter by boarding, had the rebels not deserted and blown her up, as all on board the steamers-sailors, soldiers, and citizens — were anxious for the hand-to-hand fight, having, nothing to match the big guns on board the cutter.

The rebel prisoners, twenty-three in number, were landed at Fort Preble. The crew of the cutter were brought up in the Chesapeake, and are held until the matter can be investigated.

The search on board the Archer revealed the fact that the rebel crew was none other than that of the Tacony. The Archer was captured by her on the twenty-fifth, and the Tacony was [130] burned soon afterward, all her armament and stores being removed to the Archer.

By the log-book of the Tacony, which was found on board the Archer, it appears that the Tacony was captured June tenth, latitude thirty-four degrees twenty-one minutes, longitude seventy-six degrees forty-nine minutes.

On the twenty-third of June, the log-book states that she burned four vessels, and sent all the prisoners to New-York.

June 24.--Burned ship----, from Liverpool, for New-York, with passengers, and kept charge of her during the day.

25th.--Burned the ship, and let her go. At half-past 7 captured the schooner, (Archer.) At nine A. M., removing from the bark to the schooner. Finish at two A. M., every body being on board, burnt the bark Tacony. Stood to the N. W.

This is the last entry in the Tacony's log. There is also a journal of the C. S. corvette Florida Number Two, commencing May sixth, which says:

At four P. M. the brig Clarence was put in commission as the Florida Number Two. The following is a list of the officers and crew: Second Lieutenant, C. W. Read, commanding; Second Assistant Engineer, E. H. Brown; Quartermaster, J. E. Billaps; Quarter Gunner, N. B. Boyd; Captain, A. G. J. W. Matheuson; Crew: Joseph Mayer, Charles Lawson, J. P. Murphy, Robert Muller, James McLeod, J. Robertson, A. L. Drayton, George Thomas, Alex. Stewart, Michael Gorman, Robert Murray, C. W. Dolvin, Hugh McDaniels, Frederick Walton, Jas. Coffer, Daniel Morse, John McNary.

Received from steamer Florida one howitzer complete, six rifles, thirteen revolvers, ten pistols.

A memorandum-book was found, containing instructions, which reporters were not allowed to see, as it is thought to contain important evidence for Government. An account-book was also found, containing in the back part a list of vessels, probably captured by the rebels, as follows: Jacob Bell, Star of Peace, Oneida, Commonwealth, Kate Dyer, Lapwing, Colcord, Henrietta, Clarence, Estelle, Windward, Carrie Ann, Aldebaran, Byzantium, Isaac Webb, Shatemuc, Whistling Wind, Tacony, Goodspeed, Mary Alvina, Arabella, Umpire, Maringo, Florence, Ripple, Elizabeth Ann, Rufus Choate, Ada, Alfred Partridge, M. A. Shindler, Kate Stuart, Archer, a sloop, Wanderer.

The following is a list of chronometers found on board schooner Archer: Bark Tacony, going; bark Whistling Wind, run down; brig Umpire, going; brig Clarence, going; ship Byzantium, going; bark Goodspeed, going.

It appears from the memorandum-book that Lieutenant Read and crew went on board the Tacony about the fourteenth of May. On the twenty-fifth of June he seems to have burned the Tacony and gone on board the Archer. The last memorandum of the Lieutenant says:

It is my intention to go along the coast with the view of burning the shipping in some exposed harbor or cutting out some steamer.

On discharging the cargo of the Archer Saturday evening the twelve-pounder brass howitzer which was on board the Tacony was found on board, together with arms and ammunition. The officers in command of the vessel were Second Lieutenant C. W. Read, who has a commission in the confederate navy, dated October twenty-third, 1862; Third Assistant Engineer Eugene H. Brown, who appears to have reported to Admiral Buchanan on board the Florida, October sixteenth, 1862.

An examination of the crew of the cutter disclosed the following facts:

Between one and two o'clock Saturday morning, two boats filled with armed men boarded the cutter on both quarters simultaneously. They were armed with revolvers and cutlasses. The watch on deck, when they heard the oars approaching, called Lieutenant Davenport, who was asleep in the cabin. He was overpowered by four men and ordered below; the watch was also ordered below, and the men below turned out of their hammocks and placed in irons, rebels standing over them with revolvers and threatening them with death if they made any noise. One of the crew tried to escape through the fore hatch to swim ashore and give the alarm, but was caught and secured. The rebels at once proceeded to make sail, hove up the anchors, and placing two boats ahead, towed her out through Hussey's Sound, thus avoiding the Forts. The Lieutenant and crew of the cutter, twenty in number, were kept below in irons until they were ready to set fire to her, when they were put into one of the cutter's boats with their irons on; but on being requested, the rebels threw the keys of the hand-cuffs on board the boat, and thus enabled the sailors to release themselves, and pull away from the cutter. The stores, flags, armament, etc., of the Tacony were on board the Archer. Among the flags was a burgee with.the name of Tacony upon it.

Lieutenant Merryman, who was appointed to take command of the cutter, arrived here Friday evening. He went down in the Forest City to assist in the rescue of the vessel from the rebels.

Company A, State guards, in twenty minutes time from receiving orders, were ready to go on board the tug.

It was fortunate for the prisoners that they were landed at Fort Preble, for such was the indignation of our citizens that they would have been murdered had they been brought up to the city.

When the rebel Lieutenant Read went on board the Forest City he was all of a tremor, and so nervous that he could scarcely do or say any thing. The rebel crew were rather stoical in appearance and action.

No communication was allowed on Saturday with the prisoners at Fort Preble, as by order of Government they are kept in strict confinement. A posse of police officers went down Saturday night for the purpose of bringing up the prisoners [131] and placing them in jail, but the Commandant of the Fort refused to give them up, and stated that they were confined there by United States authority.

On board the Chesapeake, William F. Laighton, Naval Inspector, took command of the vessel. The guns were under the direction of George J. Barry, United States Naval Engineer, and the soldiers and armed citizens under command of Colonel Mason. Captain Willett, who commands the steamer, was as active and earnest as any one on board. It was all excitement from the time the first gun was fired at the Forest City by the cutter. Two guns were fired from the Chesapeake at the cutter.

When the Chesapeake picked up the regular crew of the cutter, it was with difficulty the armed men on board the steamer were restrained from firing into them, so strongly did they believe that the cutter had been carried off by them. A few moments' conversation with the crew satisfied them they were guiltless.

Among the volunteers on board the Chesapeake was an old tar who had been a gunner on board Farragut's fleet. After the Chesapeake fired at the cutter, making a very good shot for a small piece, this old tar rushed up, embraced the gun and affectionately patted her as though she was a pet child, with a hearty expression of approval for her good shot.

When it was concluded between the two steamers that the Chesapeake should lead off in boarding the cutter, Mr. Laighton stated that the question was, whether they should sink the cutter or the cutter should sink them, and then called for a vote upon the question. It was unanimously voted, with rousing cheers, to run the cutter down. A full head of steam was put on, and she bore down upon the cutter at the rate of fifteen knots. She had proceeded but a short distance, however, before it was discovered that the cutter was on fire and abandoned by the rebel crew.

Both boats having a considerable amount of freight on board deemed the risk too great to attempt to extinguish the flames.

The Archer was stripped Saturday night, and her stores, armament, etc., were placed in the Custom-House.

The boat of the cutter was secured, after the painter had burned off, by Captain Warren, of the Seventh Maine, Mr. Haile, of the Argus, and Mr. Edward Pickett. They named her the Trio, and brought her up to the city and placed her in the boat-house of the North Star Boat Club.

There was no communication with the shore by any of the officers or crew of the rebels after they arrived in the harbor Friday evening. So Lieutenant Read states, and he is corroborated by the crew.

Mr. Berry, Agent of the Associated Press, visited Fort Preble yesterday afternoon, saw the prisoners and got an account of the cruise from Lieutenant Read, who courteously answered all questions. He collated his report with all important memorandums from his private note-book furnished the Commandant, namely:

Lieutenant Read reported on board the Florida in Mobile at the close of 1862. He describes her as a small sloop-of-war, eight rifled guns, and one hundred and twenty men. January sixteenth, left Mobile Bay with steam and every sail set to topmast studding sail, making fourteen and a half knots. On the seventeenth, at daylight, saw a big sloop — of war, supposed to be the Brooklyn, which passed within half a mile, showed three lights, and passed to the northward. Nineteenth, burned brig Estella. Early on the morning of the twenty-second, left Havana and steamed to the eastward; burned the brig Windward, letting the crew go in a small boat. Off Cardenas light burned the Corris Ann, and she drifted into Cardenas harbor. Thirty-first, was chased by a Federal gunboat, but had the heels of her. February twelfth, captured the clipper ship Jacob Bell; showed the Yankee flag in hailing her, and burned her on the thirteenth. March sixth, captured the ship Star of Peace, and burned her at four P. M. Thirteenth, captured the schooner Aldebaran. Twenty-eighth, captured the bark Lapwing; christened her the C. S. corvette Oreto, and she captured the ship Commonwealth seventeenth of April, bonding her. The Lapwing was afterward burned. March twenty-ninth, captured bark M. J. Colcord, and burned her the fifteenth of April. April twenty-third, burned bark Henrietta. Twenty-fourth, burned ship Oneida. May sixth, latitude 5.34 south, longitude 34.23 west, captured brig Clarence, and christened her C. S. corvette Florida No. 2.

Lieutenant Read states that the Florida captured fourteen in all up to this time. The Kate Dyer was one, the others I could not learn. Lieutenant Read was transferred to brig Clarence, with the crew as before reported. She was then off Cape St. Roque and ran up north till June sixth, when off Cape Hatteras she burned the bark Whistling Wind, with coal for the United States Navy. Seventh, captured schooner Alfred H. Partridge and bonded her. Ninth, burned brig Mary Alvina, loaded with commissary stores. Twelfth, latitude 37 north, longitude 75.30 west, captured bark Tacony, but finding her faster than the Clarence, transferred every thing and burned the Clarence. They christened the Tacony Bark Florida, which accounts for the steamer Florida being reported off our coast. Same day captured schooners M. A. Shindler and Kate Stuart; bonded the Kate Stuart in seven thousand dollars and sent all prisoners aboard and burned the M. A. Shindler. Same day captured and bonded brig Arabella with neutral cargo, and passed a gunboat without being noticed. Fifteenth, latitude 37.42, longitude 70.30, burned brig Umpire. Twentieth, latitude 40.50, longitude 69.04, bonded ship Isaac Webb with seven hundred and fifty passengers, wild Irishmen. Three P. M., burned fishing sloop, name unknown. Twenty-first, latitude 41, longitude 69.10, burned ship Byzantium and enlisted three men from her belonging to New-Orleans; same day burned bark Goodspeed. Twenty-second, burned fishing schooner Marengo and captured schooner [132] Florence and put all the prisoners aboard her, seventy-six in number, including the crews of schooners Elizabeth Ann, Rufus Choate, and Ripple, which were captured and burned the same day. Twenty-third, burned schooners Ada and Wanderer. Twenty-fourth, latitude 45.10, longitude 67.43, captured packet ship Shatemuc, from Liverpool for Boston, with three hundred and fifty passengers. Was anxious to burn her, being loaded with iron plates, etc. Tried to catch schooners to put the passengers aboard, but failed and had to let her go, bonding her for one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Same day captured the schooner Archer, chased the Shatemuc and put the Archer's crew aboard.

Hearing that Federal cruisers were after the Tacony, and fearing recognition, burned Tacony, transferring every thing to the Archer. Thence came direct to Portland. Picked up two fishermen for pilots, but they would not serve. Took positions from coast survey charts. Got in at sunset and anchored below Munjoy. Had no communication with the shore. Waited until half-past 12 midnight, when moon went down, then rowed direct to cutter Caleb Cushing in two boats with muffled oars. Boarded one on each side, seized her crew without resistance and ironed them. Captured Lieutenant Davenport as he came on deck. Weighed anchor, being unable to slip the cable, and started at three A. M., going out by Hussey's Sound. Towed out by two boats ahead, followed by the Archer as fast as the light wind would permit. Laid to outside waiting for the Archer. When the steamers attacked us could only find five round shots, and were obliged to fire stones and pieces of iron.

Lieutenant Read belongs in Mississippi, near Vicksburgh, and graduated from Annapolis in 1860. He came in with the intention of burning the shipping and two gunboats which he learned were building, from a coal-laden English schooner from Pictou to New-York. He also intended to catch the steamer Forest City and burn her.

All the Tacony's crew came out of Mobile in the Florida except three taken from the Byzantium. The Tacony passed many steamers during her cruise. On the day the Byzantium and Goodspeed were burned, a large steamer, showing French flag, sailed around the burning vessels, examined them and passed on.

Too much credit cannot be given to Mr. Collector Jewett for the promptness with which he acted on this occasion. He received the following despatch on the evening of the occurrence.

sir: Your prompt and efficient action in relation to the cutter Cushing merits my warmest approval. Cause all the parties implicated who may be arrested, to be placed in close confinement. Report the facts in detail for further instructions.


--Portland Press, June 29.


Deposition of Albert P. Bibber, one of the fishermen captured by the Archer.

I, Albert P. Bibber, of Falmouth, in the District and State of Maine, on oath, depose and say, that on the twenty-fifth day of June, A. D. 1863, between ten and eleven o'clock A. M., I was in my row-boat, about eight miles to the southeast of the Damariscove Island, hauling my trawl, aided by Elbridge Titcomb. We had about twenty-five lines to our trawl, and we had underseen all but two lines. There were no other boats near us, except one about half a mile off. The nearest land was Pumpkin Island, and that about five miles off. I saw a fishing vessel running down to us about half a mile distant, bearing about south-west. The persons on board hailed us: “Boat ahoy. Come alongside.” I replied: “I cannot do it.” They ordered me alongside again, and I told them I could not come, that I was under my trawl. They replied: “Cut it.” I replied I shouldn't do it. The vessel then stood off a short distance and hove to, put out a boat with five men in it, and the boat soon came alongside my boat. The man in charge of the boat told me that I was taken by the confederate privateer Alabama, that is, as near as I can recollect. I think a part had pistols and all had side-knives. Two of them got into my boat and ordered me and my partner alongside their vessel, the two strangers rowing as well as my partner and myself. I went aboard with my partner, and we were both left to go about as we choose.

The vessel was a fishing schooner of about ninety tons, all fitted and found for the Banks. I did not see more than eight or nine men on board, besides myself and Titcomb. I don't remember what, if any thing, was said before I was ordered into the cabin. Titcomb was ordered in first, and he left when I went in. I had been on board an hour or more, when I was ordered into the cabin. I took a seat, and the person I took for the captain asked me where I belonged. I told him I belonged near by Portland. He asked me about the war, the fishery, the steamboats, and the cutter. He seemed principally to want to know the news about the war. I told him I had been fishing some time, that I had not heard of any late news, and I had not heard any thing that was going on. I told him all I knew about the steamboats and the hours they run, but I told him I was not very well posted about them. He seemed to want to know most about what time English boats run. I told him I could not tell where the cutter was, but I saw a topsail schooner go into Boothbay harbor that morning that I took for her. I told him that the last I knew, her complement of men was thirty, but that I had not known any thing about her for a long time. I don't recollect that he asked any thing about her guns. He got up, and started to go out of the cabin, saying: “All I want of you is to take this vessel in and out of Portland.” I made no answer. That was all he said to me for the day, that I recollect of. I went upon deck, and staid there most of the time until we [133] came to anchor in Portland harbor. He did not call upon me to take the vessel in, and I did not assist in the least in taking her into Portland harbor.

We finally came to anchor to the eastward of Pomeroy's rock, off Fish Point, Portland harbor, about a quarter of a mile from the rock. It was, I should judge, at the time we anchored about half-past 7 or near sunset of said Friday, and I remained upon deck until about nine o'clock. In that time, they passed on deck, out of the cabin, ten or twelve clothes-bags. All the persons on board were at the time they took me, and remained all the time I was with them, in fishermen's clothes, except the person I have called the Captain. He had on blue or black pants and a blue frock coat. He had nothing on that looked like uniform, either naval or military, After they got into the harbor of Portland, the men put on their belts, pistols and cutlasses, and most of them were so armed before nine o'clock. My partner was with me most of the time. He did not assist at all in piloting the vessel into the harbor, and neither was called upon for that purpose. About nine o'clock Titcomb and myself were ordered below into the cabin and fastened up, and one man was left at the gangway, as near as we could judge. From the time that I went on board until we were put below, no boat left the vessel, and no person left it. When we were thus put into the cabin, we lay down in the berths. A man came down and said: “Men, don't attempt to come upon deck to-night. Make no noise or resistance, and it will be all the better for you.” I said: “Ay, ay, sir.” From the time we went on board the vessel until we went below as just stated, no boat came to the vessel, and no person communicated with any one on board. I was on deck constantly, excepting the time I was in the cabin first, as before stated, and the time I spent in eating dinner.

After being left alone, I heard noise of hoisting and a stir about deck, until twelve or halfpast twelve o'clock, I should judge. I did not sleep a wink, and I heard nothing afterward but the tread of the watchman on deck until about daybreak. Then I heard a noise alongside. Men got upon deck and opened the companion-way and ordered us upon deck. Titcomb and myself both went on deck. The vessel was where she was when I went below at night. Both Titcomb and myself were ordered into our own boat alongside. I hesitated a moment. The order came, “Hurry up, men; hurry up, men,” and so I went aboard. Three or four men got into the boat and rowed us alongside the cutter. It was daylight, and I could see the cutter near us, with all sail on and two boats towing. She was about an eighth of a mile east of Fish Point. When we got alongside I was ordered on board, and I think one man got out with me, an officer, I think.

Nothing was said to me for an hour, I should think, when one of the men said to me: “What do you think of this? Did you think of this when we came in last night?” I replied that I did not. He asked me if I did not think: it was well done, to take the cutter out, with all hands aboard, without any trouble. I told him I thought it was a very daring act. He said he would have done a good deal more had he had a good wind when he commenced. He asked me if I was acquainted through the way the cutter was going. I told him I was. He said: “Is there plenty of water?” I told him it was a very shallow place at low water. He said: “I shall go out this way.” We were then to the northward of Fort Gorges. I don't recollect that he said any thing further, except: “Don't get this vessel aground.” I made no reply whatever. I was on the main deck; I had made no remark about the course or direction of the vessel, and had been asked no questions. A man was at the wheel, but I had not spoken to him or been near him. A man was ordered by the officer to heave the lead. Don't know that I heard what depth was reported. We were then being towed to the northeast. There was no wind. We kept on until we got abreast the passage between Cow Island and Hog Island. I was then asked if the cutter would not go through that passage. I told him it was a very bad passage. He said he should go through, and told the man at the wheel to keep her off. She was kept off and taken through that passage. No questions were asked me about the course, and we went through it very quick, as a breeze sprang up just as we entered the passage. I gave no directions as to the course, and was not asked to give any. After getting through there, the cutter was in an open sea-way, and kept right out to sea.

Before we got to the Green Islands I asked the captain if he would not let me go. He said he should not. I saw two men, that looked like the cutter's crew, come up with irons on, and their irons were taken off while they went to the waterspout, and then they were ironed again and taken below. Beside those, I saw no other persons aboard except those I had seen the day previous in the schooner. After getting three miles beyond the Green Islands, I asked again to be let go. He told me no; he would stand off a little further, then he would heave — to and wait for the schooner to come up.

When out past Cod Ledge we saw steamers coming, and when they were within about two miles I asked again to be let go. He told me he didn't care; I might take either of the little boats alongside. I got into the boat as soon as the word was given, and rowed off. One of the men said I had better row a little quartering, for they should fire soon. I finally reached the steamer Forest City, and was taken aboard, and related all the circumstances to the officers. I told the captain that the schooner was somewhere between Portland and Jewell Island. He hesitated a few minutes, and under my direction ran for her. I remained on board the Forest City until I was landed at Fort Preble, where I am now detained. When I was taken on board the schooner I sup. posed it was a drunken crew of fishermen on a frolic, and I saw nothing suspicious until nearly [134] half-way to Portland, when I saw them passing arms out of the hold for inspection, and it was while I so supposed that they were fishermen that they asked me about the steamboats, the cutter, and other things I have before mentioned as being inquired about.


Letter from Lieut. Read, of the privateer Florida.

Fort Preble, Portland, me., July 1, 1863.
my dear Barbot: as I have just noticed your arrival at Fort Lafayette, in company with the officers and crew of the late ram Atlanta, I have concluded to drop you a few lines, informing you of my being bagged, and nicely closeted, in a well-built fort in “Old Abe's” dominions.

As you have, perhaps, heard nothing definite of the Florida since she left Mobile Bay, I will give you a brief account of her exploits, and of my cruise since leaving her.

She left Mobile Bay on a clear, starlight night, a stiff breeze blowing from the north-west. We dashed by the blockaders at full speed, and although blue and flash Drummond lights turned night into day, we were not fired at. Next morning the Oneida, Brooklyn, and Cuyler, were in chase, but they soon dropped far astern. The breeze was strong, and we carried all the canvas the Florida could bear. The main-topsail yard was carried away, and the fore-topsail yard sprung. I never saw any vessel make better speed. The Florida is a splendid sea-boat. She will outsail any clipper, and steams thirteen knots. She can fight three heavy rifles directly aft; and as it is in her power always to bring on a stern chase, she can never be captured. With English oak and Southern hearts, she has no superior.

The Florida proceeded to Havana, thence to Nassau and Barbadoes. On the sixth of May she was off Cape St. Roque, and had captured fourteen sail, all valuable vessels. On the sixth of May we captured the brig Clarence, from Rio to Baltimore. I proposed to take her and make a raid on the United States coast. My proposition was acceded to, and I was given twenty-two men and one twelve-pound howitzer. We captured three transports off Cape Henry, and a fine clipper bark called the Tacony. As the latter vessel was a much better sailer than the Clarence, we burned the Clarence and took the bark. With the Tacony we destroyed fifteen sail. On the twenty-third of June we burned the Tacony, and took a small fore-and-aft schooner of seventy tons, with the view of cutting out a better vessel.

On the morning of the twenty-sixth we made Portland light; at sunset we entered the harbor; at half-past 1 we boarded the revenue cutter Cushing, and took her with but little difficulty. The wind was very light, and it was seven o'clock in the morning before we got out of range of the forts. At ten A. M. we were about fifteen miles from the city, when the wind died and left us becalmed. At eleven, three steamers were discovered approaching us; we cleared for action, but the ordnance department of the cutter, as usual, was in a deplorable condition and we were unable to do as much as we otherwise would have done. The cutter had one thirty-two pounder amidships and one twenty-four pounder howitzer forward. There was but one cartridge for the thirty-two, and but five rusty round shot and a few stand of grape. The attacking steamers were filled with armed men,, and their machinery protected by bales of rags and cotton. We fired away all our ammunition, set fire to the cutter, and surrendered in our small boats.

It was my intention, when I came into Portland, to cut out a sea-going steamer, but, strange to say, at the decisive moment, Mr. Brown (whom you will remember in connection with the breaking down of the Arkansas engine) declared himself incompetent to work the engines of the steamer, unless he had another engineer to cooperate with him. All my plans were then crushed, and I was compelled to take the cutter out as a dernier ressort. If there had been a breeze, we would have been far out to sea before day. light, having committed considerable destruction in the harbor of Portland.

We have been kindly treated by our captors. I expect we will be sent either to New-York or Boston in a few days. As they have commenced exchanging again, I hope we all may be sent into Dixie before long. My kindest regards to Travers and Williamson. Write to me.

Sincerely, etc., your friend,

C. W. Read. Lieut. A. Barbot, Confederate States Navy, Fort Lafayette, N. Y.

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Portland (Maine, United States) (14)
Fort Preble (Maine, United States) (10)
New York (New York, United States) (5)
United States (United States) (4)
Portland Harbor (Maine, United States) (3)
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