previous next

[87] officials who prevented their liberation. They claimed that they were kept prisoners by their own Government. The controversy was forced to a crisis by the action of the Federal authorities in relation to captured privateersmen. During the summer of 1861, the privateers fitted out by authority of the Confederate Government became quite troublesome by interfering with the commerce of the United States. A number of merchantmen were taken and sent into confederate or neutral ports or destroyed. In anticipation of such a mode of carrying on the war, President Lincoln on April 18, 1861, had issued a proclamation declaring that all persons taken on privateers that had molested a vessel of the United States should ‘be held amenable to the laws of the United States for the prevention and punishment of piracy.’

The schooner Savannah, formerly a United States pilot boat, on a cruise from Charleston harbor, was captured by the United States brig Perry, and Captain Baker and fourteen of the crew were sent in irons to New York to be tried as pirates. It was proposed to hang them. Great commotion was excited in Libby prison on the 9th of November, 1861, by an order to General Winder to select thirteen of the Federal officers of highest rank, and confine them in cells, to be dealt with in the same manner as the crew of the Savannah should be. The name of Colonel Corcoran was the first drawn out of the urn, to be held as a hostage for Captain Smith, of the privateer Jefferson Davis, who had been condemned to be hung in Philadelphia. Colonel Corcoran was given to understand that he would be hung on the day after authentic information was received that Captain Smith had been put to death. Thirteen others, drawn by lot, were placed in close confinement to await the issue of the hanging of the crew of the Savannah. They were as finally settled—Captains Ricketts and Mc-Quade, who had drawn fatal numbers, on account of their wounds being substituted by others—Colonels Lee, Cogswell, Wilcox, Woodruff and Woods; Lieutenant-Colonels Bowman and Neff; Majors Potter, Revere and Vogdes; Captains Rockwood, Bowman and Keffer. None of the privateers were executed, and the hostages were subsequently released and exchanged.

An interesting episode took place in relation to Colonel E. Raymond Lee, of Boston, in connection with these transactions. A few days before he had been designated, at the request of the prisoners, to go North on parole to procure clothing, blankets, etc., for their use during the approaching winter. The papers had been prepared, and he expected to leave on his humane errand the next morning. But

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (10)
Charleston Harbor (South Carolina, United States) (2)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Robert A. Smith (4)
E. Raymond Lee (4)
W. W. Corcoran (4)
Bowman (4)
Woods (2)
Woodruff (2)
Winder (2)
J. M. Wilcox (2)
Vogdes (2)
Rockwood (2)
Ricketts (2)
Revere (2)
Potter (2)
Neff (2)
Mc-Quade (2)
Lincoln (2)
Keffer (2)
Cogswell (2)
Baker (2)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
November 9th, 1861 AD (2)
April 18th, 1861 AD (2)
1861 AD (2)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: