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[91] I put Lieutenant Robert (D.) Minor on board, with orders to take the brig to Fredericksburg. The coffee, a full cargo, was a great treat to our ‘boys in gray,’ who were already beginning to endure some of the many privations that made them in later days, ‘truly an army of martyrs.’ In an hour or less, I captured a schooner from Boston, loaded with ice and bound for Washington. I placed an officer and prize crew on board, and dispatched her to Fredericksburg. The ice just got there in time, for the wounded and sick in the hospitals were suffering for the want of it; and the Yankee captain of the schooner attended the sale, and seeing the fine prices paid for the ice, he came to me and proposed that he should go to Boston, get another vessel loaded with ice, bring her down, and let me know precisely when to meet him, that I might capture him, take the vessel to Fredericksburg, sell the ice, and divide the proceeds. Would any one but a Yankee have been guilty of such rascality? He had a splendid flag of a 74, an ensign that he had borrowed from the navy-yard, Boston, to hoist on the occasion of Douglas's death, but of that same ensign a goodly number of secession flags were made. I next captured another vessel from Baltimore, loaded with coal, bound for Boston—a most fortunate prize, as I was on my last bucket of coal in the Saint Nicholas. I filled up as I went along, as I began to feel a little fearful that some of the gunboats might be after me, so we went up to Fredericksburg, I towing my prize. We reached there safely. The government bought the Saint Nicholas for about $45,000, and turned her into a gunboat. The coffee sold well, but as she was a Baltimore vessel, and owned by gentlemen of that city, the government ascertained the price of coffee in Baltimore and paid Messrs. Spence & Reid twelve cents a pound, and sold it at twenty-five or thirty cents in Richmond. The vessel was returned to the owners. I then went to Richmond, and was ordered to the command of fortifications on James river. After having been there for some time, and knowing I was not competent to build 'longshore fortifications, whatever other navy officers might have been, I applied for other duty more in the line of my profession, and was ordered to take command of the station at New Orleans, with the rank of commodore.

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E. B. Spence (1)
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