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Doc. 68.-capture of the Redgauntlet.

Captain Lucas's letter.

June 20, 1863.
dear sir: I regret to write to you that the Redgauntlet was captured by the confederate steamer Florida (otherwise the British steamer Oreto) on the fourteenth of June, when twenty-three days out, in latitude eight degrees thirty minutes north, longitude thirty-four degrees fifty minutes west. We first discovered her at half-past 5 in the morning, about seven miles off, two points on the lee bow, and standing toward [309] us; escape was impossible on account of the scant wind and our position ; they had the British flag set, came up with us under canvas and steam, passed us, then tacked ship, furled sails, fired a shot across our bow, spoke us, and sent a boat on board.

The moment the officer stepped on deck the confederate flag was set and the British flag hauled down. He demanded the ship's papers, examined them, and said that the ship was a prize. I told him our cargo was principally British, and called his attention to the consular certificate. He said that made no difference, the ship was a prize, and I must get my wardrobe ready and go on board the steamer, adding at the same time that the boat was ready, and in five minutes from the time we were boarded all hands were transferred to the steamer. As soon as I was aboard the Florida I went to Captain Maffit and told him that our cargo was principally British, and asked him to bond the ship and let us proceed; but. he refused decidedly, saying that “since Lincoln had decided that the bonds of the Ariel were null and void, he had determined to bond no more ships; that he should destroy them all, and if British merchants shipped goods in American ships they must run the risk of losing them.”

I asked him what he would do if he should come across an American ship under British colors with a register from a British consul? He said that he should take her as a prize unless she had a British register in due form from a British custom-house. They commenced plundering the Redgauntlet at the moment of capture, and in smooth water plundered her from day to day. On the eighteenth of June, I, with ten others, were put on board the Italian brig Duo Fratelli, from Montevideo for Antwerp. We saw the Florida and Redgauntlet last on Friday, June nineteenth, in latitude fifteen degrees forty minutes north, longitude forty degrees west, both standing to the northward. They were only waiting for a smooth day to finish plundering the Redgauntlet before destroying her. She was pretty well plundered before I left the Florida. The provisions put on board for us were two barrels of beef, thirty tins of crackers, ten pounds of coffee, one half bushel of beans, and twenty pounds of sugar.

We have been aboard twenty-five days, and the prospect is, that we may reach port in ten more, and we are now short of provisions. No water was put aboard, the captain of the brig being told that if he wanted any he must send his casks for it; he was also told that they would compel him to take us whether he was willing or not. They took my chronometer and nautical instruments, books and charts, and a variety of articles, amounting in value to nine hundred dollars. I saved nothing except what was already in my trunks, as I was hurried off so quick. I trust that you had a war risk on the ship, and was not deceived as I was by the idea that a British consul's certificate would prevent the destruction of the ship. As others had been bonded, it was reasonable to suppose that they would bond the Redgauntlet.

We left on board as prisoners nineteen from the Redgauntlet, twenty-three from the B. F. Hoxie, and seventeen from the Southern Cross. They were all handcuffed, and kept on deck day and night, rain or shine. Five of the Redgauntlet's men shipped on board the Florida two days after their capture.

The discipline on board the Florida is bad, but probably as good as can be enforced under the circumstances. The officers, with the exception of the first lieutenant, are an inexperienced set of men; the chief engineer is a very efficient man, and every thing appears to be well conducted in his department. Her armament consists of six sixty-eights and two one hundred and twenties, all rifled and of British manufacture. I think they trust more to running away than they do to fighting with their undisciplined crew. With the exception of being plundered, I was treated with courtesy by Captain Maffit and his officers. All hands except the mate and myself were put in irons, but after the first day were let out at times, until the B. F. Hoxie was captured.

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