beyond belief were made by the owners of these vessels which were mostly built in Great Britain
and were the fastest steaming craft of their day. They were loaded with arms, ammunition, and other supplies needed by the Confederacy
, and departed on the return voyage loaded down to their gunwales with cotton.
It is a question whether, in the main, the traffic was successful, for so many of these greyhounds were captured by the blockading fleets, and destroyed or wrecked, that in figuring up profit and loss the totals must have almost equaled.
During the war the number of blockade-runners destroyed or captured was one thousand five hundred and four.
The gross proceeds of the property condemned as lawful captures at sea and prizes to the vessels who took them, before November 1, 1864, amounted to $21,840,000. Subsequently this sum was increased by new decisions of the prize-courts, and actually the total loss to owners who ventured in the business and who principally resided in Great Britain
, was in the neighborhood of $30,000,000. The damage paid in the Alabama Claims
decision was very little more than half this sum.
The first prize captured off Charleston
was the ship General Parkhill
that was taken by the Niagara
. The second of Charleston
's prizes was the schooner Savannah
that was taken by the United States brig Perry
on June 3, 1861.
She had been a pilot-boat before the war, and was not in any sense a blockade-runner except for the fact that she had escaped from Charleston
and made the open sea. It was intended that she should intercept American merchant vessels, and she was practically a privateer.
She had already made one or two prizes when, mistaking the Perry
for a merchantman, she suffered the consequences.
The blockade had more to do with the blockade-runners than with the privateers; the history of these latter vessels, daring as any adventurers in the days of Drake
, is of the greatest interest.
The careers of the Sumter
and the brig Jefferson Davis
, the Amelia
, the Dixie
, the Petrel
, the Bonita
, the James Gray
, and many others would