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[375] on gold in the Confederacy at that time was fifteen to eighteen for one, this sum amounted to $1,500 to $1,800, and being a quasi export duty on food for gunpowder, struck me as an excessive charge to be made by such kindly disposed, unselfish people. My fellow passenger by the “Corsica,” the English cavalryman, arranged to go by this same blockade runner; they charged him too the same export duty on himself of $100 in gold in the shape of passage money. We afterwards learnt that our captain was greatly disgusted at the small amount of fare received from us, as the larger portion of the passage money, it seems, was his perquisite.

In due course we embarked on our steamer for the short voyage to Wilmington. A trial trip of about an hour's duration was made round the delicately blue transparent waters of the harbor; caution being observed of course to keep well within the marine league from shore — the limit of England's juridiction — in the meantime the passengers and some invited friends of the captain or agents were being regaled with ale and champagne, of very inferior quality, in which was drunk success to the expedition. This was done to test machinery and to make sure that everything was in perfect order. This was a very sensible precaution, for the Federal cruisers might be met at any moment lurking in the offing, and then it was a race to escape — the blockade runners being merchantmen entirely without armament. Our vessel was painted of a bluish-white color to make her less likely to be seen at sea, especially at night, but other than this I could perceive no attempt at concealment. Our trial trip ended, we put to sea in a very matter offact manner — no hostile cruisers being visible — so we were disappointed of the excitement of a chase. Indeed, during the entire voyage only one vessel was sighted at sea; she was quite distant, and we did not have the impoliteness to approach any nearer to ask inquisitively about her nationality.

It was intended to reach Wilmington Bar somewhat after midnight, when the moon would be up. This surprised me, as I thought a dark night would have been preferred for making the attempt to run past the Blockading Fleet. It seems, however, that it was considered the lesser of two evils to run the risk of being seen and chased, rather than to take the certain danger of being wrecked, when running in with insufficient light. After a favorable voyage we reached the desired point off Wilmington at the proper time. A brief stoppage was made, when soon the final preparations were completed for running the gauntlet of the Federal Blockaders, who would become visible shortly, as we approached nearer shore. All the lights in the steamer were extinguished,

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