182. capture of the “Harvey Birch.”
November 19, 1861.
The voyage of the Nashville.
The Confederate States
, Captain Pegram
, left Charleston
on the night of the 26th of October, at eleven o'clock, passing over the bar at twelve.
When she started the weather was thick and cloudy, but just as she was crossing the bar the weather cleared up, and the moon rose brightly, lighting up in full view to the eastward, distant about four miles, two steamers of the blockading squadron--one the United States
steam frigate Susquehanna
, of twelve guns, the other a powerful propeller gunboat.
, being under the land and from the moon, was not seen by them.
She then encountered strong northeasterly winds and very heavy seas, but made the passage to Bermuda
in three and a half days. On arriving at Bermuda
she received a pilot on board, who took the vessel to the dock-yard, stating that, in consequence of her length, she could not go into St. George
's. The next day Captain Pegram
, not being satisfied, obtained a second pilot from the dock-yard, who took the Nashville
safely round into St. George
's, at which place the vessel coaled.
During their stay at Bermuda
the commander and officers were treated with the greatest hospitality and kindness, both by the citizens and the officers of the English
army and navy stationed there, and every facility for getting stores, coals, &c., was afforded them by the inhabitants.
A few days prior to the arrival at Bermuda
of the Nashville
the United States
had called at the island for the purpose of ascertaining if the Nashville
had been there.
She had a crew of four hundred men, with six guns mounted.
Not hearing any thing of the steamer they were in search of, they again proceeded to sea, without stating their destination.
sailed again for Bermuda
on the 5th instant, and from the next day until the 17th she experienced a succession of gales from
all points of the compass.
Nothing of interest further transpired until the 19th, when she destroyed the United States
ship Harvey Birch
The following is the report of Commander Pegram
: On the morning of the 19th instant at eight A. M., sighted the packet-ship Harvey Birch
, of New York; immediately bore down upon her; when near enough, hailed her, having unlimbered guns and cleared decks for action.
Then spoke the vessel and ordered the captain to haul down his colors and bring his papers on board.
The Stars and Stripes immediately went down slowly, and Captain Nelson
and his crew came on board the Nashville
. Captain Pegram
then informed him that he demanded an unconditional surrender, but all private effects would be respected.
The crew were then brought on board, and with tile exception of Captain Nelson
, his two mates, and a passenger, were placed in irons.
The captain and mates were allowed to retain their revolvers, but put upon parole.
A few provisions were then brought on board, and the Harvey Birch
committed to flames.
Before the Nashville
left her the three masts were seen to fall, and the entire vessel enveloped in a burning mass.
states that the burning of the ship and hauling down of her flag was the most painful act of his life, having for a period of thirty-two years fought and served under the United States
The crew of the burnt ship describe the officers of the Nashville
as young and inexperienced, and their disgust is beyond expression at being taken by such a set of “brats of boys,” as they describe them.
To use the expression of one of them, he said, “By----, if only half a dozen of us had been loose, we would have cowhided the whole of the lot over the stern, clean.”
A good joke is told of the captain of the Nashville
, who, it appears, belonged to the American
navy for thirty years before he joined the secessionists.
In relating the capture of the ship to a gentleman at Southampton
, he observed that he felt bound to treat the captain and officers with every attention and kindness, that he invited them daily to his own table, and behaved with true hospitality and courtesy; “but,” said he, “my mortification was great when I sent them on shore to find that they did not acknowledge my kindness by even expressing their thanks.” --London Times
held the following commission under the “Confederate” seal:
The following statement was taken by the Quarantine officer at Southampton, Eng.
, from the second mate of the Harvey Birch
statement of James Stewart
, Second Mate
of the Harvey Birch
The following is the protest of Captain W. H. Nelson
, master of the Harvey Birch
Sworn before me in the consulate of the United States
this 22d day of November, 1861.
stated that Commander Pegram
endeavored to compel himself and crew to take the oath of allegiance and not to take up arms against the Southern States
This was denied by Commander Pegram
and officers, who stated that the only document that Captain Nelson
and officers were requested to sign was one of which the following is a copy:
The remainder of the crew, not having signed the above document, were placed in irons until their arrival at Southampton
, Nov. 23.