251.-the First privateer.
A real, but not very formidable specimen of a privateer, sailing under the pirate flag of the Southern Confederacy, with a letter-of-marque duly signed by Jeff. Davis
, arrived at New York in charge of Midshipman McCook
, and a prize crew from the U. S. frigate Minnesota
, on the 15th of June.
She is a “low black” schooner, but not “long,” being only some fifty tons' measurement, with raking masts like a pilot-boat, and, for an old-fashioned vessel, is quite sharp, and is said to be a first-rate sailer.
She has no name on the stern, but the word Savannah
, in raised letters, on the front part of her trunk cabin, is no doubt the name of the vessel.
She has been a Charleston pilot-boat, and for two years past was laid up in that port, condemned.
She carries a formidable 18-pounder gun, mounted on a swivel amidships, and on each side of the mainmast are small open lockers for holding the ammunition for immediate use. In these lockers there were observed a quantity of hollow pointed shot, with grape, canister, and other missiles.
The gun is of old English make, having a crown on the top, with figures denoting its rate, &c. There is a magazine in the after part, under the cockpit, containing a large quantity of ammunition of every description.
She had on board, when she left Charleston
, nominally provisions and water enough for a two weeks cruise, but really sufficient for a much longer time.
Her cabin is well supplied with small arms, such as cutlasses, of a rather antique pattern, hanging across each other on hooks driven up for the purpose, holsters and revolving pistols, old style, dirks, muskets, handcuffs, &c., such as might have furnished a
respectable outfit for a pirate in the time of Robert Kidd
The after part, or cabin, was occupied by the commander and his associate pirates who ranked as officers, while the forward part of the hold was set apart for the pirates of second grade, and also answered as a cooking galley.
There could scarcely be room for more than one-half of her crew below decks at a time.
As soon as she came to anchor, Mr. McCook
proceeded to the United States marshal's office, to surrender the prize to his custody.
Among the officers in charge of the prize is Mr. Isaac Seeds
, of New Jersey
. Mr. Seeds
states that he arrived at Charleston
on the 12th of May, as mate of the schooner H. & J. Neil
, of Baltimore
, from Cardenas
, with a cargo of molasses.
This vessel was stopped by the secessionists, and in order to escape from the place, he went on board of an English schooner bound to Nassau
This vessel was stopped by the Minnesota
as she was going to sea, and compelled to return, and discharge her cargo of rice.
accordingly took refuge on board of the frigate Minnesota
He states that he saw the Savannah
in the harbor of Charleston
on the 30th of May, and heard the people of Charleston
speaking of her as a privateer fitting out to cruise for merchant vessels.
It was the intention to send her across the Gulf
to Great Abaco, where she was to intercept vessels near the “Hole in the Wall,” which might pass that way on the voyage to Cuba
Cargoes of provisions were to be particularly looked after.
The little craft was observed lying at anchor under Fort Sumter
, having the Confederate
flag flying, and evidently in sea trim.
Twelve to fifteen men were noticed on board.
On the Sunday following, viz.: the 2d of May, the Minnesota
, which is blockading off Charleston
, had occasion to proceed to the southward in pursuit of a suspicious vessel, when the piratical craft seized the opportunity to emerge from the harbor by the north channel and sailed northward, in order to elude observation.
Her movements were noticed on board the frigate, but as there were many little craft continually plying about the entrance to the port, she did not attract particular attention.
On Monday, the 3d of May, the pirate fell in with the brig Joseph
, of Rockland, Me.
, with a cargo of sugar, from Cardenas, Cuba
, bound to Philadelphia
, and consigned to Welch
& Co. On seeing the Joseph
, she set an American ensign in her main rigging, which is understood to be a signal to speak, for latitude and longitude, or any other purpose.
When the Joseph
had come within speaking distance, the commander of the pirate ordered the captain to lower his boat and come on board of the schooner.
As soon as the captain had come on board, he was told that his vessel was a prize under authority of the Confederate States of America
, his vessel being fitted out by authority of the Confederate States
to seize all American vessels.
He found on the pirate schooner twenty-two men
, including officers.
Resistance was useless, and they submitted as prisoners, the captain being detained on board of the schooner, while the crew of the Joseph
was allowed to remain on their own vessel.
A prize crew of eight armed men, with muskets, cutlasses, bowie-knives
, and revolvers, were put on board.
The brig was sent into Georgetown, S. C.
About 5 P. M. of the same day, the brig Perry
hove in sight, the schooner running for the Perry
, under the belief that they had another merchant prize ahead.
Their surprise can be imagined when they discovered that the vessel was one of Uncle Sam's men-of-war, and that they were already in her power.
The pirate immediately hauled on a wind, and endeavored to escape by sharp sailing, believing that they could thus run away from the Perry
This was at 5 o'clock P. M. The Perry
set all sail and took chase after the little pirate, firing her guns to bring her to. The Savannah returned four shots, which passed over the Perry
, one shot going through the rigging, but without doing her any damage.
At 1 o'clock A. M., the Perry
had hauled close on to the pirate, and ordered her to heave to, when the schooner lowered down all her sails, and the officers ran below
. The Perry
lowered away her two quarter boats, and in a few minutes more, men were alongside and sprang upon the pirate's deck; The men came forward and surrendered their side-arms, and in a moment more the leaders also came out of the cabin and gave themselves up. They were ordered into the Perry
's boats, and in a short time were transferred to that vessel.
The men were ironed and the officers put under guard.
A prize crew was put in charge, and the captured vessel followed the Perry
to Charleston Bar, where they met the Minnesota
on Thursday, at 4 P. M. Here the prisoners were transferred to the Minnesota
, and the schooner was handed over to her commander.
On Friday night, Midshipman McCook
, with a crew from the same vessel, was ordered to carry the schooner to New York.
One of the parties on board the Savannah
is a young man hailing from New York, who represents that he was impressed on board of the privateer while unconscious.
He had been two months in the hospital in Charleston
, and from appearances he is very much broken down in health, and the last man who would adopt privateering as a profession.
He states that the name of the captain of the schooner was Baker
, and that he had been in the Chilian navy.
The other officers were a Commissary, Lieutenant
, Prize-Master, and Navigator, whose names he did not know.
He refuses to give his own name, but says he is a Northern man with Northern sentiments.--N. Y. Times
, June 16.