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[33]

Manning the yards — a visitor from Brazil The lack of skill at manning yards that is pictured here shows that in Civil War times the Brazilians, never a maritime nation, had much to learn. Occasionally during the war, along the South Atlantic coast, while the blockade was still in existence and rigidly enforced, strange vessels would be seen by the cordon of outlying scouts, and more than once mistakes were narrowly averted. It was hard to tell under what guise a blockade-runner might approach the starting-line for the final dash for shore. In July, 1864, late one evening, a vessel was seen approaching and her actions were so peculiar that a little gunboat started at once for the guard-ships and made report. Two vessels were despatched to intercept the stranger. There was a slight fog and the moon was bright, a combination that made it impossible to see more than a few yards ahead. All at once the mist lifted, and there — lying within half pistol-shot between the two Federal cruisers — lay the suspected one. Immediately she was hailed and told to surrender. A voice replied through the speaking trumpet in broken English, stating that she was the French sloop-of-war “Alerte,” and wished to make the nearest port, as she was suffering from “occasional discomposure of her engines.” This having been ascertained to be the truth, the Frenchman was allowed to drop anchor for repairs. Now and then visitors from South American ports would also drop in, and in this picture of the barkentine-rigged side-wheeler is shown a Brazilian warship.

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