But the damage thus inflicted was not limited to this destruction-far from it. The paralysis of commerce — the transfer (at a sacrifice) of hundreds of valuable ships to British owners (real or simulated) in order that they might be allowed to keep the seas with impunity — with the waste of money and service involved in sending many costly and formidable steamships to every ocean and almost every port in quest of some corsair, which was plundering and burning, perhaps on one side of a petty island, while the Vanderbilt
was vainly seeking it on the other — which was sure to be anywhere but where it was awaited or sought — and which would drop into the neutral harbor whither its pursuer had repaired for coal, or food, or information, and he there by his side, bearding him with impunity; taking its own time to depart in peace and safety, because no pursuit was allowed for the next 24 hours--such are the hare outlines of a system of maritime injury and annoyance which for years sickened the hearts of stanch upholders of the Union
That the officers of the Alabama
, Florida, Georgia
, and their confreres, were greeted in every British port with shouts and acclamations, receptions and dinners, as though they had been avowed Britons engaged in honorable warfare with their country's deadly foe, was observed by loyal Americans
with a stinging consciousness of the hollowness and fraud of British neutrality which will not soon be effaced.
And, when every remonstrance made by our Government or its representative against the favor shown to these privateers, not only in their construction, but throughout their subsequent career, was treated as though we had asked Great Britain
to aid us against tile Confederates, when we had only required that she cease to aid unwarrantably our domestic foes, the popular sense of dishonesty and wrong was with difficulty restrained from expressing itself in deeds rather than words.
Early in May, 1863, the Florida
, while dodging our gunboats among the innumerable straits and passages surrounding the several West Indies
, captured the brig Clarence
, which was fitted out as a privateer and provided with a crew, under Lt. C. W. Read
, late a midshipman in our navy.
This new b<*>aneer immediately steered northward, and, sweeping, up our southern coast, captured some valuable prizes; along them, when near Cape Henry
, the bark Tacony
to which Read transferred his men, and stood on up the coast; passing along off the mouths of the Chesapeake
, New York, and Massachusetts bays
, seizing and destroying merchant and fishing vessels utterly unsuspicious of danger; until, at length, learning that swift; cruisers were on his track, he burned the Tacony
(in which he would have been easily recognized), and in the prize schooner Archer
, to which he had transferred his armament and crew, stood boldly in for the harbor of Portland
; casting anchor at sunset2
at its entrance, and sending at midnight two armed boats with muffled oars up nearly to the city, to seize the steam revenue cutter Cushing
and bring her out for his future use. This was done ; but, no sooner