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[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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