The cruise of the "Tallahassee."
During the month just past there have appeared, from time to time, many items about the Confederate Cruiser Tallahassee, and extracts from the Northern papers regarding the doings of the Pirate Tallahassee have been extensively copied. Perhaps the main facts have thus been made public, but only one side of the story has been told, and that, with all the exaggeration and falsehood of particular instances, is incomplete. In order to make known the true story, taking into consideration at the same time the limited space allowed in a daily paper, I cannot do better than transcribe the narrative from my diary, written from day to day during the cruise. This I do literally and without alteration, which fact will be sufficient apology for its faults. * * * * * * August 6th.--This morning we were still aground on the "rip," the draft of water being too great to pass the eastern bar at these tides. The steamers Flamingo, Caps Fear, and Yadkin, were made fast to us at high tide, and in a short time we were afloat steaming down towards Fort Caswell, preparatory to a trial of the other bar. All day long we lay at anchor off Smithville, a village somewhat visited in years gone by as a summer watering-place, but now looking in the last stages of chronic dilapidation.--About 8 o'clock came the boatswain's pipe to "up anchor." Rounded the fort at nine, and at ten were on the bar. At this hour the moon had gone down, a few black clouds floated in the sky, and the stars shone dimly through a thin gauze-like vapor that rose from the water. A fair night to run out. After passing the bar, came upon two blockaders, one on either bow, much closer in than they had been during the day. Ran between them, and soon had both abeam; but, unfortunately, a stream of flame burst from the smoke-stacks and betrayed us. The enemy immediately showed a signal light, but no answer being received, gave us a shot, quickly followed by others. This was repeated on the other side; but every shot went over. Running at a speed of nearly fifteen knots, we soon left them in the dark and, although they fired several rockets to discover our position by their glare, soon got beyond reach of rockets or shell.--We saw three more blockaders, but passed them unobserved, and in a few hours were out at sea. Sunday, 7th.--At daybreak a Yankee cruiser was in pursuit of us, and some four or five miles astern. Were then running southeast, with little more than half steam. The dense black smoke rising from the Yankee's funnels showed he was making every exertion to overhaul us. It is an easy task to run away from him, and in about two hours he is hull down, but still standing on. At 8 o'clock another steamer came up ahead, and discovering us, gave chase also. Change our course to northeast by north, thus bringing both cruisers on our beam, bearing down at an acute angle across our bow. An hour's run, both were astern. It is a calm, quiet Sabbath day — a smooth sea and clear sky. Captain Wood read service on the quarter-deck to all hands. See large school of porpoises rolling and tumbling in the water. Three deserters from the fleet were found stowed away this morning. They were put in the coal bunkers to assist the firemen. Two o'clock.--Both steamers chasing us in the morning are out of sight, but another is signalled from the masthead. Chased us until night; but it required little exertion to keep away from him.--Just as dark came on, nearly ran into the fourth cruiser we have seen to-day, and before our course could be changed were close on him. He showed a blue light, and immediately came down in our wake. Another signal light was shown forward; but as neither was answered, he opened fire. For a few moments his shell pass over us, and then, as we increase our speed, they gradually fall astern. After the first half hour we saw him no more. Monday, 8th.--A fair, pleasant day. Some swell, as there nearly always is in the stream. Masses of beautiful gulf-weed float by continually, sea-gulls skim over the surface of the water, and the little Mother Carey's chickens flit about on restless wing. Spoke the Hamburg barque Louise Wilhemine, and being satisfied with the heavy, Dutchy appearance, pass rapidly by under steam and canvas. Tuesday, 8th.--Spoke Bremen brig Santiago, and schooner, Fanny, of Nova Scotia. In the evening, overhauled brig H. F. Calthirst, of Turk's island, evidently a Yankee under British register. Lieutenant Ward boarded her, but found the papers all right, under the consular seal. Towards night the barometer fell, and the air grew thick and hazy.--About 9 o'clock, saw a large steamer on our port bow, but passed her unobserved. Wednesday, 10th.--Spoke British barque Armenia, and schooner Emma, of Nassau. From the latter obtained New York papers of the 8th instant. After dark, gave chase to a steamer with lights set, and under steam and canvas, close hauled to the wind. There is an ugly look about her when seen closely, but we stand on until nearly alongside, when it is found we have caught a tartar in the shape of a frigate. Not caring to interfere with such a respectable craft, we bear away with full head of steam, and permit her to go on unmolested. Thursday, 11th.--Two vessels in sight at daybreak: one an English barque, the other a coasting schooner. While speaking the larger vessel, the schooner turned on the wind and ran for life, knowing very well what we were. It was nearly an hour before we overhauled her, but a musket shot finally brought her to, and we boarded our first prize — the schooner Sarah A. Boice, of Boston, bound to Philadelphia for coal. The vessel is new and valuable. There are few provisions on board, but these were removed, the captain and crew taken off, and the vessel scuttled. We are now about twenty miles from Long island and sixty miles from Barnegat. Seven sail in sight. Towards 9 o'clock a pilot boat appeared and ran down towards us, thinking we were in want of a pilot. When alongside, a boat was lowered and sent off, in which was a large well-dressed man, with a heavy watch-guard, a massive ring on his little finger, and the air of a genuine New York butcher-boy. He was prepared to take us into port — having his clean shirt in a bundle under his arm, and a few copies of the Herald and Times. We had the Stars and Stripes flying as he put off from the schooner, but just as he came under the stern, it was lowered and our ensign raised. "My God," said he, glancing up at it, "what is that?" "What ship is this?" he asked as he stepped upon the quarter-deck. "The Confederate Cruiser Tallahassee," replied Captain Wood. Upon hearing this the fellow was frightened out of his wits. His face turned deathly pale, his knees shook violently, and drops of perspiration started from every pore. I never saw a more perfect picture of object misery than he presented when told his boat would be burned. This was the James Funck; or, Pilot boat "No. 22." Being a beautiful and fast-sailing schooner, Captain Wood put a price crew upon her, under Mr. Curtis, acting master, and pilot Davis, keeping her as a tender. We obtained some Fulton market beef, mutton on ice, fresh vegetables, and a quantity of stores, from this boat. At 11 o'clock, came up with brig Carrie Estelle, of Boston, with lumber for New York. The prisoners were taken off, charts, chronometers and nautical instruments removed, and the vessel burned. Meanwhile, the Tender "22" was sent after two sail, some five miles away; and in about two hours sent down to us the barque Bay State, from Alexandria, Virginia, to Boston, returning light, after having taken out a cargo of coal. The captain's wife, two children, and nurse, were on board, and all badly frightened. It was some time before they were thoroughly convinced they were not to be murdered. After removing everything of value to us, Lieutenant Gardner poured turpentine over the cabin floor and applied the match. In a few minutes she was in flames. While this vessel was burning, the "22" brought down the brig A. Richards, of Boston, but mostly owned in the State of Mains. Nothing of value was found on her, and she was fired as soon as the prisoners could be gotten off with their baggage. A short time after, two more sail came in eight.--We are evidently in the truck of coasters from nearly all the Atlantic ports, bound to New York.--Both proved to be schooners. We brought one to with a blank cartridge, and the Tender was sent out to bring in the other. We now had over forty prisoners, and as they were allowed to take all their personal property in addition to their private baggage, our decks were inconveniently filled. On this account, the first schooner, the Carroll, of East Machias, Mains, was bonded for $10,000, and the prisoners, with their luggage, sent on board. [Note.--The agreement specially stated the passengers were to be taken to New York, and not landed elsewhere. We have since learned the captain of the Carroll violated his oath, having landed his passengers on Long island and given information at the nearest telegraph station. I never saw a man more earnest in his declarations that he would keep his word.] The other schooner, the Atlantic, from Addison to New York, loaded with wood, was burned. At five o'clock the Carroll cleared with our prisoners, and we laid in wait for other prey. At six o'clock we were standing northeast by east. The air was close and smokey, made more so by the ships burning near us. This was very favorable, as it prevented our smoke being seen at a distance. Half an hour on this course, and another pilot boat hove in sight on our port bow. As the other had done, she bore down for us unsuspiciously until near enough to make out the ensign, when she hauled on the wind and run. These pilot boats are fast sailers, and the chase was exciting. At first we had but nine pounds of steam, and the schooner held her own very well, but as the steam increased we gained rapidly, and finally brought her round by a shot from the bow gun. This was Pilot boat "No. 24; " or, the William Bell--one of the finest vessels I have ever seen. Everything about her was fitted up in elegant style and in perfect order. Mahogany berths, rosewood panels, fine carpets, damask curtains, and broad lace trimmings on beds; silver, crockery, and, in fine, everything on board was of the best and costliest description. Built only three years ago, the "24" cost $16,000 in sold; and the fitting up, $1,000 more. We found two passengers on board, an old gentleman out for his health, and a New York drummer on a pleasure excursion. Mr. Callahan, the owner, appeared a very gentlemanly person, and I endeavored to make his fate as easy as possible, assisting him in saving his personal baggage, inviting him to the ward-room table, and at night taking the blankets from my own bed to make him comfortable. I gave him every possible attention, and he expressed much gratitude, making me a small present as a testimonial of his appreciation of my efforts. At night, while smoking our cigars, he spoke of the outrages committed by his own people, and condemned them in strong terms. He repeatedly declared his treatment was much better than he had expected, or even hoped, when first taken on board. When we parted he again repeated his thanks, and held his hand to me. (Note.--Upon reaching home this individual published his statement in the Herald, in which he said he was very badly used; had his hat and boots taken from him; was kept without food, and had no place but the wet decks to lie at night. He further stated I had declared myself to him one of the Chesapeake pirates, which he knew to be a deliberate falsehood. After reading this in Halifax, I determined to keep my sympathies for the future little more in check. There were several such cases well calculated to stir up revengeful feelings against other prisoners; but I do not know of a case on the "Tallahassee" where one was ill-treated.] We hastily gathered a few things from her — nautical instruments, telescopes, charts, clocks, medicine chest, &c. And then, pouring turpentine over the cabin floor, this fine boat was fired. Lieutenant Gardner hesitated to apply the match; but there was no help for it, and she was soon ablaze. Once more we are on our course, the "22" following in our wake. The bright flame of three burning vessels showed plainer as night came on, while, in the distance, two more were smouldering at the water's edge. About midnight, the wind died away, and our Tender lagged behind. She was taken in tow, and, under easy steam, we stood on towards Montauk point. All these vessels were burned within a short distance of each other, and in latitude 40 deg. 19 min. north, longitude 72 deg. 27 min. west. At night, owing to our proximity to the land, we had a heavy ground swell. Friday, 12M.--As usual at daybreak, several sail were in sight. The "22" was cast off and sent after some vessels in the distance, while we steer for a large ship on our starboard bow. When alongside, she was ordered to heave to, and in doing so swept down upon us, and struck us before we could get away; but, fortunately, very far aft. Our mainmast fell, and the deck was swept clean of everything standing, carrying away even the iron bulwark rail. Being a very large ship, towering high above us, she would have inevitably sunk us had she struck amidships. The mast fell over the side; and the rigging being cut away, swung round under the propeller. It was some time before this could be extricated. All being clear, we moved ahead a short distance, and Lieutenant Gardner was sent on board after the captain and his papers. In a few moments he came over the side with a very confident air, feeling sure that he, being an Englishman, would be allowed to go on with his ship. This was the Adriatic, from London to New York, with one hundred and sixty- three passengers. There was great consternation among these people when told that the ship was to be destroyed, and they were ordered to gather up their private baggage to go on board a barque the "22" was then bringing in. I shall never forget the scene, and yet it was a trifle compared to what I saw when the enemy took possession of the town of Fredericksburg. Women and children wept, screamed and prayed, while men cursed, laughed and got drunk. Two or three elderly females went into hysterias, while others were running here and there, with clasped hands, asking us to spare them. It was some time before they could comprehend that we did not intend burning them with the ship; but when they did, all went quietly at work packing their things. They were allowed to take everything they desired, and frequently a whole boat was taken up by two or three persons with their luggage. It was a bustling scene when they came to go over the ship's side. The woman were lifted into the boats as carefully as possible, and the disagreeable business conducted as well, and better than could be expected. Three or four men were so drunk they had to be slung over the side, Captain Moore among the number. It was with great difficulty he was got out at all, as he preferred going to sleep in his bunk to the exertion of changing ships. It took nearly three-hours to clear her, and then she was burned with her valuable cargo on board. The baggage these people carried was of the strangest description — broken pots and pans, jars, crockery, cracked vases, bird cages, cats, dogs, and other pets, brought with them from the Old World. These they all insisted upon taking, but in many instances had to be refused. Women, after having become reconciled to leaving, went to the side cheerfully enough, but became obstreperous when not permitted to take an old straw bed or a basket of dishes worth less than five dollars. It was a sad sight to witness the trouble of these poor creatures, who, in many instances, had their all on board. Perhaps one-half the number were able-bodied young men, who will be found, in a month's time, in the Army of Virginia. The barque Saliote, which was bonded, took the passengers and our other prisoners on board. We gave them some casks of water, and sent word to the captain if he wanted more two casks would be thrown overboard for him to pick up. To this he made no reply; so we presumed he had enough to last him in. Later in the day, steering east by south, we fell in with the schooner Spokens, of Maine, bound to New York, with a cargo of laths. She hoisted the United States flag as we came up, and was ordered to heave to. Lieutenant Benton boarded, and after removing chronometer and charts, cut away the masts and scuttled her. Two hours after — about 5 o'clock P. M.--captured brig Billow, of Salem, Massachusetts, loaded, also, with laths. The captains of these two vessels were cousins, and had sailed from port together, keeping close to each other up to the time of their capture. The Billow was burned. At 6 o'clock saw a schooner on port-bow coming on towards us. This was the R. E. Packer, of Pennsylvania, bound to Boston with a load of coal. Our decks were now very much crowded with prisoners, and, in consequence, the schooner was bonded for $30,000, and they were put on board. She had a valuable cargo besides coal. After leaving her, steered northeast by east. During the night a steamer passes, as supposed by her lights to be a Federal cruiser. We were not seen. August 13th.--It was scarcely daylight before two sail were reported, and in a few moments both were alongside. One was an English vessel, which, of course, we could not touch; the other, the barque Glenavon, of Thomaston, Maine, from Glasgow to New York, with a cargo of pig-iron. This was a fine, new barque, with splendid spars and double topsail yard. The captain had his wife on board,--a brave, good woman,--and a female servant. There were two passengers in the cabin, an old sea captain and his wife, the latter a perfect termagant, and very offensive to all on board. Her tongue was never idle, and her time about equally divided between abusing her husband, who bore it like a lamb, and distributing testaments and tracts among our men. The art of making everybody disagreeable was carried to perfection with this horrible woman, and the scoldings she gave the poor captain who was tied to her apron string struck every one dumb with astonishment. The last act of revenge on the poor man was just as she was leaving the side, when the old lady, in a fit of anger, tore off her new bonnet and threw it in the sea. We got a quantity of mess stores from the Glenavon, a few luxuries, some hams, a coop of chickens, and two pigs. After removing all things of immediate service to us, Lieutenant Ward had her scuttled, and she sank rapidly. Before we were out of sight she went down by the head, and sank forever beneath the ocean. It seemed a pity to destroy such a noble craft, and I looked upon our work with sorrow. I spoke of Mrs. Watts, the captain's wife. She was, indeed, a brave, sweet woman, and bore her losses without a murmur, and, at the same time, the taunts of the other female. Only once did she give way to her feelings, and then when speaking of their loss in connection with her children. "Poor fellow," said she, looking fondly towards her husband, "he has been going to sea for thirty years, and all his earnings were in this ship. We were saving for our dear little children at home--five of them"--and then her eyes filled with tears and a single drop trickled down her still fair cheeks. She said that, since the beginning of the war, she had read with horror of the sufferings of the noble Virginia ladies, and only wished her loss might do them some good. This and similar sympathizing expressions, together with a little wholesome abuse of Lincoln, the Zantippe threatened to report to the police the moment they arrived in New York. About 3 o'clock, we captured the schooner Lemot Du Pont, of Wilmington, Delaware, from Glace bay, Cape Breton, with coals for New York. While the schooner was being fired, a Russian barque passed, and we bargained with him to take the passengers into port. The barque had three or four hundred German emigrants on board, the males, undoubtedly, destined for the Yankee army. I should have remarked yesterday that, soon after the burning of the Adriatic, the "22," being no longer of use to us, was destroyed. We saw a few sail in the evening, but far away and out of our course. They were all small, and had a foreign look. It is very easy to distinguish an American from an English or foreign-built vessel by the shape and rig. Captain Wood was never mistaken, to my knowledge, from a single glance to tell the nationality of a ship. This being Saturday night, one week from our departure from Wilmington, we sum up the week's work and find there have been destroyed one ship, three barques, three brigs, and eight schooners--fifteen sail. With these were taken upwards of two hundred prisoners, exclusive of the one hundred and sixty-three passengers on the Adriatic. They were all paroled, a special copy being made out for each man. Finding this diary will occupy much more space than was anticipated, I am forced to divide it between this and subsequent issues. This ends the first seven days of our cruise, and of the second week I will speak in my next letter.