on the seaboard and Ocean.
on Sunday, June 2d, 1861, while the Minnesota
, then blockading the harbor of Charleston
, was looking after a suspicious vessel that was observed to the southward, a little schooner of some fifty tuns, carrying an ugly-looking 18-pounder mounted on a swivel amidships, and manned by twenty-two men, of whom not more than half could find room at once under the shelter of her deck, slipped out from under the lee of Fort Sumter
, by the north channel, taking first a northward course, so as to allay suspicion on board the blockader, but intending to stretch boldly across the Gulf
Stream to Great Abaco, and lie in wait near the Hole-in-the-Wall for unarmed Yankee merchantmen trafficking between Northern ports and Cuba
She was lucky at the outset, almost beyond her hopes; falling in, when scarcely a day at sea, with the brig Joseph
, of Rockland, Me.
, laden with sugar from Cardenas, Cuba
, for Philadelphia
Setting an American flag in her main rigging, to indicate her wish to speak the stranger, the privateer easily decoyed the Joseph
within speaking distance, when he ordered her captain to lower his boat and come on board.
This command having been readily obeyed, the merchantman was astounded by the information, fully authenticated by the 18-pounder aforesaid, that he was a prize to the nameless wasp on whose deck he stood, which had unquestionable authority from Mr. Jefferson Davis
to capture all vessels belonging to loyal citizens of the United States
There was plainly nothing to be said; so the Yankee
skipper said nothing; but was held a prisoner on board his captor, while a prize-crew of eight well-armed men was sent on board the Joseph
, directed to take her with her men into Georgetown, S. C.
At 5 P. M., of that day, a brig hove in sight; and the Confederate schooner at once made all sail directly toward her, expecting, by the easy capture of a second richly laden merchantman, to complete a good day's work, even for June.
On nearing her, however, he was astonished in turn by a show of teeth — quite too many of them for his one heavy grinder.
Putting his craft instantly about, he attempted, by sharp sailing, to escape; but it was too late.
He was under the guns of the U. S. brig Perry
, Lieut. E. G. Parrott
commanding, which at once set all sail for a chase, firing at intervals, as signals that her new acquaintance was expected to stop.
—— for that word, displayed in raised letters on the front part of her trunk cabin, seemed to be, or at least to have been, her name — did not appear to comprehend; for she sent four shots at the Perry
, one of which passed through her rigging.
So the chase continued till 8 o'clock P. M., when the Perry
had hauled so close to the puzzling little craft as to order her by trumpet to heave to, when the schooner lowered all her sails, and her officers
In a few moments, the two quarter-boats of the Perry
were alongside, and their crews leaped upon the flyaway's deck; when all remaining mystery as to her character was thoroughly dispelled.
Her men at once stepped forward and surrendered their side-arms; and, perceiving there was no bloodshed, the leaders soon emerged from the cabin, and did likewise.
All were promptly transferred to the Perry
, and returned in her to Charleston
bar; whence they were dispatched, on the 7th, as prisoners, in what had been their own vessel, to New York, where they arrived, in charge of Midshipman McCook
and a prize crew, on the 15th.
They were arraigned and some of them tried as pirates, but not convicted--Mr. Jefferson Davis
, by a letter to President Lincoln
, dated Richmond
, July 6th, declaring that he would retaliate on our prisoners in his hands any treatment that might be inflicted on them.
No answer was returned to this letter; but the privateer's crew were ultimately exchanged, like other prisoners of war.
's rough experience was repeated, two months later, by the Petrel
, formerly the U. S. revenue cutter Aiken
, but turned over to South Carolina
by her officers in the infancy of Secession.
Running out of Charleston
on a cruise, the Petrel
soon encountered the St. Lawrence
, gunboat, and, mistaking her for a merchantman, fired at her as a summons to surrender.
The St. Lawrence at once returned the compliment with a broadside, sinking the Rebel
craft off-hand, with five of her crew.
The residue, thirty-six in number, were sent to Fort Mifflin, on the Delaware
, as prisoners.
Gen. Benj. F. Butler
sailed, August 26, 1861, from Fortress Monroe
, as commander of a military and naval force whose destination was secret.
It consisted of the fifty-gun frigates Minnesota
, Wabash, and Cumberland
, with four smaller national vessels and two steam transports, carrying 800 soldiers, with two tugs laden with supplies; the Naval force under the command of Corn.
. Arriving the second night off the entrance through Hatteras Inlet to Pamlico Sound
, it was found defended
Explanations to the plan of the Bombardment of Forts Hatteras and Clark.
A. United States troops and marines.
B. Masked Batteries.
C. Scouting parties awaiting the bombardment
D. Small Boats.
1. Cumberland. 2. Wabash.
4 and 5.
Susquehanna and Monticello, during the afternoon of the bombardment.
6, 7, and 8. Steamers Pawnee, Harriet Lane, and Monticello, protecting the landing of troops.|
by the new Forts Hatteras and Clark
, mounting five and ten guns respectively, with five more ready for mounting on the more important work; the whole defended by 700 Confederates, under Corn.
, late of the Federal Navy
; the infantry consisting of the 7th North Carolina, Col. Martin
The forts were found far less formidable than they doubtless would have been a few weeks later.
The bombardment was commenced at 10 A. M., of the 28th; Fort Hatteras replying, with signal industry, to little purpose; its gunners being evidently inexperienced and unskilled.
had little or nothing to say; and was next morning found to have been already abandoned.
being still open, a heavily laden transport reenforced Fort Hatteras during the night; but this did no good.
The bombardment having been reopened by our ships on the morning of the 29th, and it being evident that to continue the contest was simply to condemn his men to useless slaughter, Com. Barron
, at 11 A. M., raised the white flag, and, on consultation, offered to surrender the fort with its contents, on condition that the garrison should be allowed to retire.
declined the proffer; but proposed, in his turn, to guarantee to officers and men, on capitulation, the treatment of prisoners of war; and this was ultimately accepted.
The spoils were 715 prisoners, 25 cannon, 1,000 stand of arms, and a considerable quantity of provisions and stores.
Our loss was next to nothing.
And the secret of the expedition had been so well kept that, for several days thereafter, blockade-runners from various quarters ran into the inlet as a Confederate shelter, and fell an easy prey to our arms.
No effort being made by the Confederates
to retake this important position, Gen. Butler
, with most of our vessels, had departed on other service; when Col. Hawkins
, commanding at Hatteras
, dispatched, late in September, the 20th Indiana, Col. Brown
, to the petty hamlet on the Hatteras Bank
, known as Chicamicomico, near Cape Hatteras
, and some fifteen or twenty miles north-east of the Inlet
The excuse for this perilous division of his forces was the protection of the native residents, who claimed to be Unionists
A few days thereafter (Sept. 29th), the propeller Fanny
, which had transported the regiment to Chicamicomico
, and was now proceeding through the Sound
, carrying thither a full cargo of stores and 40 men, was pounced upon by three armed steamers from the main land, and easily captured; and, six days thereafter, Col. Brown
discovered five Rebel steamers emerging from Croatan Sound
, with evident intent to attack him. To this end, they landed a superior force above his position, and then proceeded to land a detachment further down, intending to cut off his retreat and compel his surrender.
, however, destroyed his tents and stores, and made a rapid march to the Hatteras Lighthouse
, with a loss of about 50 stragglers taken prisoners.
, by this time fully apprised of the Rebel
movement, soon started, with six companies, to the rescue; while the Susquehanna
, our only two fighting vessels at the Inlet
, moved up to the vicinity of the Lighthouse, to take a
hand in the business.
Doubling Cape Hatteras
next morning, the Monticello
, Lieut. Braine
, came upon the main Rebel force at 1 1/2 P. M., and opened upon them with shells, putting them instantly to flight, with great slaughter.
The bank or beach between the ocean and the Sound
, being less than a mile wide, afforded little protection to the fugitives, who sustained an incessant fire from the Monticello
for two hours; and two of our shells are said to have penetrated two Rebel sloops laden with men, tearing them to pieces and destroying all on board.
Had our land forces efficiently cooperated, most of the Rebels
might have been taken; as it was, Col. Brown
returned unmolested to the fort.
, on the western extremity of Santa Rosa Island
, commanding the main entrance to Pensacola harbor, was saved to the Union
, as we have seen,1
by the fidelity and prompt energy of Lieut. Slemmer
It was reenforced soon after the fall
, and its defense confided to Col. Harvey Brown
A formidable Rebel force, ultimately commanded by Gen. Braxton Bragg
, was assembled, early in the war, at Pensacola
, and long threatened an attack or bombardment, which, on our side, was eagerly awaited.
Com. William Mervine
, commanding the Gulf Blockading Squadron, having observed that a schooner named the Judah
was being fitted
out in the harbor of Pensacola
as a privateer, with intent to slip out some dark night, prepared to cruise against our commerce, planned an expedition to destroy her. During the night of Sept. 13th, four boats, carrying 100 men, commanded by Lieut. Russell
, put off from Com. Mervine
's flag-ship Colorado
, approaching the schooner at 3 1/2 A. M., of the 14th.
The privateer's crew, duly warned, opened a fire of musketry as the boats neared her; but were speedily driven from her deck by our boarders, and she set on fire and burned to the water's edge, when she sunk.
Her gun, a 10-inch columbiad, was spiked, and sunk with her. All was the work of a quarter of an hour, during which our side had 3 killed and 12 wounded. As the Judah
lay directly off the Navy Yard
, where a thousand Rebels were quartered, this was one of the most daring and well-executed achievements of the year.
Finally, during the intensely dark night of Oct. 9th, a Confederate force crossed silently from Pensacola
to Santa Rosa Island
, with intent to surprise and destroy the camp of the 6th New York (Wilson
's Zouaves), some two miles distant from Fort Pickens
The attack was well planned and well made.
The surprise seems to have been complete.
The Zouaves were instantly driven from their camp, which was thoroughly destroyed; but the darkness, which had favored the surprise, invested every step beyond the camp with unknown perils; and, when day broke, the Rebels
had no choice but to retreat as swiftly as possible to their boats, eight miles distant. Of course, they were followed, and harassed, and fired upon after they had reembarked; and it was claimed, on our side, that their loss exceeded 300; but, as they left but 21 dead on the island, and 30 prisoners, the claim is simply absurd.
Our loss was 60, and theirs probably a little more.
But several thousand Rebels were kept at Pensacola
throughout the campaign by less than 1,000 on our side; and, when they finally decamped, they had no choice but to surrender the Naval Floating Dock
and Railway, with much other public property, to the flames, to prevent their easy recovery to the Union
The blockade of the mouths of the Mississippi
, naturally difficult, because of their number and distances, was successfully evaded on the 1st of July by the steam privateer Sumter
, Capt. Raphael Semmes
, who, darting swiftly from point to point throughout those portions of the West India
waters known to be most thickly studded with our merchantmen, made some twelve or fifteen captures in hardly so many days, and then ran into the friendly British port of Nassau
, where he was promptly supplied with everything necessary to a vigorous prosecution of his devastating career.
Having continued it some time longer with great success, he finally ran into the British
harbor of Gibraltar
, where the Federal
soon found him and his vessel, and, anchoring in the Spanish
port of Algesiras, just opposite, where no law would compel her to remain twenty-four hours after the Sumter
had departed, she held the privateer fast until relieved by the Kearsarge
, by which the blockade was persistently maintained until the Confederate
officers abandoned their vessel — professing
to sell her — and betook themselves to Liverpool
, where a faster and better steamer, the Alabama
, had meantime been constructed, and fitted out for their service.
So the Nashville
, which ran out of Charleston
during the Summer, and, in due time, appeared in British waters, after burning (Nov. 19th) the Harvey Birch
merchantman within sight of the English
coast, ran into Southampton
, where lay the Tuscarora
; which, if permitted to pursue, would have made short work of her soon after she left, but was compelled to remain twenty-four hours to insure her escape.
This detention is authorized by the law of nations, though it has not always been respected by Great Britain
: Witness her capture of the Essex
and Essex Junior
in the harbor of Valparaiso
, and her destruction of the Gen
privateer in the port of Fayal
, during the war of 1812.
But the concession of such belligerent rights and immunities to a power which has neither recognized national existence nor maritime strength will yet be regretted by Great Britain
, as affording an unfortunate and damaging precedent.
In October--the communications between our blockading forces in the Gulf
and the loyal States being fitful and tedious — the North
was startled by the following bulletin, which appeared as a telegram from New Orleans to the Richmond papers:
, formerly of our Navy, and more notorious than famous for his bombardment of Greytown, Nicaragua
, had drawn rather liberally on his imagination in the above.
His prize was a deserted coal-boat; he had not sunk the Preble
; and his “peppering” was done at a prudent distance, and with little or no effect.
But he had burst upon our squadron blockading the mouths of the Mississippi
, at 3.45 A. M. of that day, with a flotilla composed of Ills ram Manassas
, three fire-rafts, and five armed steamers.
The ram struck our flag steamship Richmond
, Capt. Pope
, staving in her side below the water-line, and, for the moment, threatening her destruction.
Our squadron, consisting of the Richmond
, and Water Witch
, instantly slipped their cables, and ran down the South-west Pass, very much as they would have done had all on board been considerably frightened.
Commander Robert Handy
, of the Vincennes
, ran his vessel aground in the flight, and deserted her, with all his men; setting a slow-match to destroy her, which happily failed.
His vessel was recovered unharmed.
The fire-rafts were entirely avoided; the Rebel steamboats not venturing within range of the Richmond
's guns; while Hollins
's haste to telegraph his victory seems to have cost him all its legitimate fruits.
Beyond the destruction of the fire-ships, the losses on either side were of no account.
On the 29th of October, another and far stronger naval and military expedition set forth from Hampton Roads
, and, clearing the capes of Virginia
, moved majestically southward.
Gen. T. W. Sherman
commanded the land forces, consisting of thirteen volunteer regiments, forming three brigades, and numbering not less than 10,000 men; while the fleet — commanded by Com. Samuel F. Du Pont
--embraced the steam-frigate Wabash
, 14 gunboats, 22 first-class and 12 smaller steamers, with 26 sailing vessels.
After a stormy passage, in which several transports were disabled, and four absolutely lost, Com. Du Pont
, in his flag-ship, came to off Port Royal, S. C.
, during the night of November 3d and 4th; and, after proper soundings and reconnoissances, which developed the existence of a new fort on either side of the entrance, the Commodore
brought his most effective vessels into action at 9 A. M., on Thursday, November 7th, taking the lead in his flag-ship, the Wabash
--the gunboats to follow at intervals in due order.
Thus the fighting portion of the fleet steamed slowly up the bay by the forts, receiving and returning the fire of the batteries on Bay Point
as they passed up, and
Port Royal and Hilton head: explanation.--Nos.
10, 11, 12, 13, and 14, in the back-ground, are the positions of the smaller Federal gunboats.|
exchanging like compliments with the stronger fort on Hilton Head
as they came down.
Thus no vessel remained stationary under fire; so that the enemy were at no time enabled to gain, by experiment and observation, a perfect aim. The day was lovely; the spectacle magnificent; the fight spirited, but most unequal.
Despite the general presumption that batteries, well manned and served, are superior to ships when not iron-clad, the terrible rain of shot and shell upon the gunners in the Rebel
forts soon proved beyond human endurance.
The smaller gunboats at length took positions whence their fire was most annoying, yet could not be effectively returned; while the Bienville
, on her second promenade, steamed close in to the main Rebel fort, and fired her great guns with such effect as almost to silence the enemy.
, on her third round, came within six hundred yards of the fort, firing as calmly and heavily as at the outset.
The battle had thus raged nearly five hours, with fearful carnage and devastation on the part of the Rebels
and very little loss on ours, when the overmatched Confederates, finding themselves slaughtered to no purpose, suddenly and unanimously took to flight; their commander, Gen. T. F. Drayton
making as good time as the best of them.3
The Rebel forts were fully manned by 1,700 South Carolinians, with a field battery of 500 more stationed not far distant.
The negroes, save those who had been driven off by their masters, or shot while attempting to evade them, had stubbornly remained on the isles; and there was genuine pathos in the prompt appearance of scores of them, rushing down to the water-side, with their scanty stock of valuables tied up in a handkerchief, and begging to be taken on board our ships.
The idea that our occupation might be permanent seems not to have occurred to them; they only thought of escaping at all hazards from their life-long, bitter bondage.
Had this blow been followed up as it might have been, Charleston
, or Savannah
, or both, could have been easily and promptly captured.
The Confederate defeat was so unexpected, so crushing, and the terror inspired by our gunboats so general and profound, that nothing could have withstood the progress of our arms.
But Gen. Sherman
had not been instructed to press his advantages, nor had he been provided with the light-draft steamers, row-boats, and other facilities, really needed for the improvement of his signal victory.
He did not even occupy Beaufort
until December 6th, nor Tybee Island
, commanding the approach to Savannah
, until December 20th; on which day, a number of old hulks of vessels were sunk in the main ship channel leading up to Charleston
and Sullivan's islands
— as others were, a few days afterward, in the passage known as Maffit
's channel — with intent to impede the midnight flitting of blockade-runners.
These obstructions were denounced in Europe
as barbarous, but proved simply inefficient.
Meantime, the slaveholders of all the remaining Sea Islands stripped them of slaves and domestic animals, burned their cotton, and other crops which they were unable to remove, and fled to Charleston
and the interior.
Not a slaveholder on all that
coast remained himself, or left his family to live once more, under the flag of the Union
issued a pleading, beseeching proclamation to induce them to do so; but none who could read would receive a copy of it, and it fell a dead letter.
Soon, the negroes who remained on the islands under our control were set to work at preparing the cotton for market; and, though assured by the master caste that, if they fell into the hands of the Yankees
, they would certainly be sent to Cuba
and sold, they could not be made to believe that any worse fortune than they had hitherto experienced was in store for them; and their number was steadily augmented by emigrants from the mainland; especially after schools began to be established among them.
The steamship Theodora
ran out of Charleston harbor
during the night of Oct. 12th, conveying James M. Mason
, of Va.
, Confederate Envoy to Great Britain
, and John Slidell
, of La.
, likewise accredited to France
duly reached Cardenas, Cuba
; whence her official passengers repaired to Havana
, and, on the 7th of November, left that port, in the British
mail steamer Trent
, for St. Thomas
, on their way to England
The U. S. steamship San Jacinto
, Capt. Wilkes
, had left Havana
on the 2d, and was watching for them in the Bahama Channel
, 240 miles from Havana
, when, at 11:40 A. M., of the 8th, he sighted the Trent
; and, after a civil request to heave to had been declined by her, a shell was fired across her bow, which brought her to reason.
, with a boat's crew, immediately boarded her in quest of the Embassadors; when Messrs. Mason
, with their Secretaries
, were compelled to change their vessel and their destination.
Their families were left undisturbed, and no effort made to obtain their papers.
But the Embassadors and their Secretaries
were brought to the United States
, and confined, by order of the Government
, in Fort Warren
, near Boston
, in his Annual Report of naval proceedings for the year ending Dec. 2d, 1861, thus fully and frankly adopted and justified the capture:
The prompt and decisive action of Capt. Wilkes on this occasion merited and received the emphatic approval of the Department; and, if a too generous forbearance was exhibited by him in not capturing the vessels which had these Rebel enemies on board, it may, in view of the special circumstances, and of its patriotic motives, be excused; but it must by no means be permitted to constitute a precedent hereafter for the treatment of any case of similar infraction of neutral obligations by foreign vessels engaged in commerce or the carrying-trade.
By a decided majority of the publicists of the United States
, as well as by the great mass of our people, this seizure was deemed abundantly justified by the doctrines and practices of Great Britain
, but especially by her long continued and never disavowed habit of impressing seamen from our merchant vessels, on the assumption that they were natives of Great Britain
, and therefore liable at all times and indefeasibly to be remanded into her service, wherever found.
In the able and carefully prepared manifesto4
whereby George IV., then Prince Regent
, explained and justified the conduct of his Government touching the matters in controversy
between it and our own, this doctrine is set forth as follows:
The Order in Council of the 23d of June being officially communicated in America, the Government of the United States saw nothing in the repeal of the Orders which should, of itself, restore peace, unless Great Britain were prepared, in the first instance, substantially to relinquish the right of impressing her own seamen, when found on board American merchant ships. * * *
If America, by demanding this preliminary concession, intends to deny the validity of that right, in that denial Great Britain cannot acquiesce; nor will she give countenance to such a pretension, by acceding to its suspension, much less to its abandonment, as a basis on which to treat. * * * The British Government has never asserted any exclusive right, as to the impressment of British seamen from American vessels, which it was not prepared to acknowledge as pertaining equally to the Government of the United States, with respect to American seamen when found on board British merchant ships. * * *
His Royal Highness can never admit that, in the exercise of the undoubted, and, hitherto, undisputed, right of searching neutral vessels, in-time of war, the impressment of British seamen, when found therein, can be deemed any violation of a neutral flag.
Neither can he admit that the taking such seamen from on board such vessels can be considered, by any neutral State, as a hostile measure, or a justifiable cause of war.
There is no right more clearly established than the right which a sovereign has to the allegiance of his subjects, more especially in time of war. Their allegiance is no optional duty, which they can decline at pleasure.
It is a call which they are bound to obey.
It began with their birth, and can only terminate with their existence.
In the Queen
's Proclamation of Neutrality between the United States
and the Confederates
, dated May 13th, 1861, there occurs this express and proper inhibition:
And we do hereby further warn all our loving subjects, and all persons whatsoever entitled to our protection, that, if any of them shall presume, in contempt of this Royal Proclamation, and of our high displeasure, to do any acts in derogation of their duty as subjects of a neutral sovereign, in the said contest, or in violation or contravention of the law of nations in that behalf — as, for example and more especially, by entering into the military service of either of the said contending parties as commissioned or non-commissioned officers or soldiers; or by serving as officers, sailors, or marines, on board any ship, or vessel of war, or transport of or in the service of either of the said contending parties; or by serving as officers, sailors, or marines, on board any privateer bearing letters of marque of or from either of the said contending parties; or by engaging to go, or going, to any place beyond the seas with intent to enlist or engage in any such service; or by procuring, or attempting to procure, within Her Majesty's dominions, at home or abroad, others to do so; or by fitting out, arming, or equipping, any ship or vessel, to be employed as a ship of war, or privateer, or transport, by either of the said contending parties; or by breaking, or endeavoring to break, any blockade lawfully and actually established by or on behalf of either of the said contending parties; or by carrying officers, soldiers, dispatches, arms, military stores or materials, or any article or articles considered and deemed to be contraband of war, according to the law or modern usage of nations, for the use or service of either of the said contending parties, all persons so offending will incur and be liable to the several penalties and penal consequences by the said statute, or by the law of nations, in that behalf imposed or denounced.
And we do hereby declare that all our subjects and persons entitled to our protection, who may misconduct themselves in the premises, will do so at their peril and of their own wrong, and that they will in no-wise obtain any protection from us against any liability or penal consequences; but will, on the contrary, incur our high displeasure by such misconduct.
Now, there was no shadow of doubt that the Trent
was consciously, willingly, employed in carrying very important officers and dispatches for the Confederates
; rendering them the greatest possible service, and one which could not safely be effected in vessels bearing their own flag.
It was not at all the case of dispatches carried unconsciously, innocently, in the public mails of mail steamers; but just such an interference to the prejudice of the one and the advantage of the other belligerent as British Courts of Admiralty had been accustomed to condemn; forfeiting
the vessel and cargo of the offender.
, however, would not see it in this light.
's act was an outrage — an insult — which must be promptly atoned for at the peril of war. Such was the purport of the language held by a large majority of her publicists and journals; and a peremptory demand was promptly made, through her Embassador, Lord Lyons, for the unconditional surrender of Messrs. Mason
and their secretaries.
seconded and supported the requirement of Great Britain
, in a considerate and courteous dispatch, wherein she justly claimed to have hitherto uniformly accorded with the United States
in a liberal interpretation and generous assertion of the rights of neutrals in war. This demand of Great Britain
--to the great disappointment and chagrin of the Confederates
, who confidently expected that war between the United States
must speedily and certainly ensue — was complied with by our Government--Gov. Seward
, in an able dispatch, basing that compliance more immediately on the failure of Capt. Wilkes
to bring the Trent
into port for adjudication on the legality of his act, whereby her voyage had been temporarily arrested and two of her passengers forcibly abstracted.
And thus, at the close of the year 1861, the imminent peril of war with that European Power most able to injure us, because of her immense naval strength, as well as of the proximity of her American possessions, was wisely averted; though it was bitterly felt that her demand would at least have been more courteously and considerately made but for the gigantic war in which we were already inextricably involved by the Slaveholders' Rebellion.