Doc. 35.-capture of the Chesapeake.
Lieut.-Commander Nickels's report.
United States Steamer Ella and Anna, Boston, December 23, 1863.Sir: In accordance with Commodore Montgomery's order of the ninth instant, to proceed to sea and cruise in search of the pirate “Chesapeake,” we got under way at twenty minutes to one P. M., on the tenth instant, and proceeded to sea. Arrived at Eastport, Maine, on the twelfth instant, at nine A. M., having encountered head winds and thick weather, and left on the same day at ten A. M., with news that the “Chesapeake” was in Margaret's Bay, N. S. Arrived off Cross Island, the entrance to Margaret's Bay, at six P. M., on the thirteenth. The weather being so thick we could not enter, and we attempted to lay in sight of the light; but, thicker weather coming on, and a heavy blow from the southward, we could not make the land until two P. M. on the fifteenth instant, to the eastward of our port. Finding it impossible to get into Margaret's Bay, and the ship being so light that we could do but little in the gale which was blowing, and our coal being nearly exhausted, we ran into Halifax. Arrived at the coal wharf at half past 5 P. M., and left at eleven P. M. (having taken in one hundred and thirty-six tons coal) for LaHave, N. S., where the “Chesapeake” was then reported to be. All this night a heavy gale was blowing from the westward, rendering it difficult to get to the windward. Arrived at La Have on the sixteenth instant, at three P. M., and found the pirate had left that place the night before, and the mouth of the river that morning. We then got news that she was at Lunenberg, (twenty-five miles distant,) and we immediately started for that port, where we arrived at half past 6 P. M. Telegraphed at once to Halifax for news of her whereabouts, which we received, stating that the “Chesapeake” entered Mud Cove, Sambro Harbor, that evening. We immediately got under way, and ran down to the mouth of the harbor, where we remained, being unable to find a pilot to take us in before daylight. We then steamed in under full steam, hoping to catch the pirates asleep. At twenty minutes past seven A. M. made her out, with a schooner alongside coaling her. We immediately cleared for action, putting all the guns on the starboard side, the side we wished to board her from, as we had news that she had mounted two guns. At ten minutes before eight laid our ship alongside, striking her, but not heavily, on the port bow. Upon boarding her, found that all the pirates had escaped, except two who had been shipped in the Provinces. We immediately commenced coaling her from this ship, also putting stores, and a prize crew on board. We then sent an armed boat's crew on board the schooner which had been coaling the “Chesapeake,” preparatory to leaving, and found several trunks and packages, which the Captain of the schooner acknowledged to have been taken from the “Chesapeake,” and also one of the original seventeen who captured the steamer off Cape Cod, and whom we found secreted in the cabin, under buffalo skins. We took the packages and trunks on board the “Chesapeake,” transferring the pirate, together with the other two found. on board the “Chesapeake,” to the “Ella and Anna,” and placed them in double irons. I neglected to say that, when near the prize the American ensign was hoisted, “Union down,” by the engineer, one of the original crew held as prisoners by the pirates soon after the pirates had left her in boats. At one P. M. finished coaling, and put Acting-Master William McGlown in charge of the prize, with written orders to proceed to Boston, and report to the Commandant of the navy yard. I immediately got under way with prize alongside, and steamed out of the Cove. At the mouth of Sambro Harbor fell in with the United States sloop of war “Dacotah,” Captain Cleary, who hailed us, and asked if that was the “Chesapeake.” I replied in the affirmative. He then asked, “Where do you proceed with your prize?” I replied, “To Boston.” He then asked, “Did you catch the pirates?” I replied, I had but three. He then told me to repair on board. I went on board, when he ordered me to proceed to Halifax with the prize for adjudication; at which port we arrived and dropped anchor at quarter before four P. M. I immediately telegraphed to Commandant Montgomery of my arrival, and of my capture. The matter now remains in Captain Cleary's hands, who, on the morning of the nineteenth, ordered me to transfer the prisoners to the custody of the British officers, and to turn the prize over to the British authorities. Accordingly at one P. M. I sent Ensign Coghlan with the three prisoners to the British authorities appointed to receive them. At. two P. M. I transferred the prize to the British authorities, Captain O'Brien, of the revenue service, taking charge of her. At four P. M. the “Dacotah” made signals for us to sail. I immediately visited the General commanding that post, and made apology for not calling, on my entrance the first time, and sailed at half past 6 P. M. for Boston, where we arrived this day. Before closing I would call your attention to the noble conduct of all my officers, all of whom volunteered for this service. Some of them had just returned from a two years cruise, and had at this time received no leave of absence to see their families, being attached to the “Santiago de Cuba.” The others were attached to vessels now refitting in Boston, and enjoying a few days in port. All were ready for any duty or emergency, and seconded me in any matter I proposed, and underwent the hardships of a cold and stormy cruise cheerfully. Enclosed please find a list of the officers, showing the duty they were upon when attached to this ship. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. F. Nickels, U. S. N., Acting Vol. Lieut.-Com. U. S. Steamer Ella and Anna. To Admiral Silas Stringham, Commandant Navy Yard, Boston.I certify the above to be a true copy.