In the harbor of Portland, me., June 27, 1863.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
and myself both went on deck.
The vessel was where she was when I went below at night.
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
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.