Doc. 65. capture of the Young Republic.
New haven, May 21, 1864.Assistant Engineer J. M. Wheeler, attached to the United States gunboat Grand Gulf, gives us the following particulars concerning the chase and capture of this splendid vessel. It appears that the officers of the Grand Gulf saw the Young Republic running into Wilmington one week before her capture, and they also state that the rebel forts fired salutes as she steamed up the river. On the afternoon of the fifth, the same steamer, heavily loaded with cotton, came down the river and anchored near the rebel forts. To entice her out, Captain Ransom, of the Grand Gulf, steamed away and headed up the coast; but returned at daylight and discovered the blockade-runner far out to sea. He was confident of being able to overhaul her, and immediately gave chase. After getting within two or three miles, Captain Ransom commenced throwing his hundred-pound shell, and at the same time the stranger was busily at work throwing over cotton to lighten ship. There was hardly a ripple on the water, and Mr. Wheeler states that for the last thirty miles they passed some two or three hundred bales of cotton, which the stranger sacrificed in his endeavor to escape. The Grand Gulf gained gradually, continuing her fire. The rebel captain could be distinctly seen standing upon the top of one of the paddle-boxes, giving his orders as coolly as though no enemy was near. The smooth sea and the valuable prize before them, made the chase unusually exciting. It now became apparent to the captain of the Young Republic that he must be captured, and he gave orders for a general destruction of property, but still continued his course. Then the scene that followed was particularly aggravating The rebels now commenced throwing over everything of value — cotton, furniture, silverware, hose, pump-handles, barrels, &c. The water was thickly dotted with these goods, and Captain Ransom concluded there would be but little left for him, unless he checked the enemy at once. He put on all steam, and in a few minutes was in a position to give her an old-fashioned broadside. The rebel captain knew what he might expect, and stopped his engine. A pillow-case went up to mast-head, and the rebel steamer Young Republic was a prize to the United States gunboat Grand Gulf. Captain Harris, of the former, had designed blowing up his ship. To accomplish this he had fastened down the safety-valve, expecting to take to the  boats and get off a short distance before the explosion would take place. The prompt action of Captain Ransom prevented this, though the safety-valve was found closed and a fearful head of steam on. The total number of men on board was forty.