The following letter describes a voyage out from Wilmington
, through the blockaders, before the fall of Fort Fisher
The writer has since been captured on board the blockade-running steamer Stag
Steamship Stag, St. Georges, Bermuda
, January 1, 1865.
My Dear Father:
For being allowed the privilege of once more writing you from a point of safety, after experiencing a most dangerous trip from Wilmington
, I feel the profoundest gratitude to the Almighty Being
, to whose mercy alone I attribute the fact of our not being lost.
The opening of this letter will no doubt fill you with the same feeling; and knowing that you will be eager for them, I will give some of the particulars, which can never be effaced from my memory.
Just before leaving the coast of North Carolina
, I wrote M., informing her of our expected departure on the night previous to Thursday, which letter I hope she has received.
Night arrived, and about 12 M. we got under way, having no difficulty in evading the blockading squadron, from the fact that nearly all the ships had been called off from the "bar" (over which we passed) to participate in the attack on Fort Fisher
above, the whole of which I witnessed with great satisfaction, particularly when I discovered that our guns were having such telling effect.
The next day dawned upon us most beautifully, the sun almost surpassing himself in the brilliancy of his rays, and the ocean smoother than it gets to be once in six months, according to the statements of those who are supposed to know.
Onward our little steamer sped, seemingly conscious of the task before her, and every one on board in the highest spirits, little aware of the peril through which we had to pass, and the terrible amount of mental suffering to be borne before reaching our point of destination.
Thus passed the anniversary of the birth of our Lord
and Saviour, with no incident worth mentioning, except the having to go at top speed twice during the day to escape a Yankee cruiser, which lay off the Gulf
stream, causing us to leave our course some sixty or seventy miles, but which, instead of exciting the least alarm, served only to make the time more interesting.
Retiring to my berth about the usual time, my slumbers were disturbed towards day by the rapid rocking of the ship, which I was soon afterwards informed was occasioned by a heavy wind, which had sprung up during the night, tossing the sea up to what I considered a fearful height, but which, in comparison to what ensued the following night, amounted to nothing.
Monday came and passed, the roughness of the water not permitting us to make quite as much headway as the day before; but towards the afternoon the wind increased in fury, rendering it dangerous for a person to show his head outside the cabin, and causing the breakers to dash across the deck at a terrible rate.
In the meantime, there was much sea-sickness, with which I myself suffered very little, as I anticipated.
The next morning, the wind and sea having subsided considerably, was the time appointed for our arrival at St. Georges, but when four o'clock arrived, and the man at the masthead failed to sing out "land ahead," the re-action in my feelings was indescribably awful.
It is painful to think of even now. Upon examination, we found we were lost somewhere in the Atlantic ocean
, but exactly where we did not know, with only two days coal and a very small amount of provisions and water on hand.
The only hope for us was in meeting up with some sail, or accidentally hitting upon land by floating about in different directions until the coal was out; otherwise our condition was truly alarming.
But, thank Heaven, we came in sight of terra firma
on Friday evening, after being at sea six days and six nights, and are now safe at anchor in the harbor of St. Georges
, not, however, without passing through another fearful gale on Thursday night, the ship sustaining some injury, but not of a serious character.
The same night that we put to sea the "Talisman" followed, and was unfortunate enough to be lost.
Her crew arrived to-day, having been taken up by a Yankee merchantman whilst their ship (the T.) was in a sinking condition.
Old sailors report it to have been a terrible time for ships. --Nearly all that have arrived here in the last few days have been injured more or less.
There is the greatest eagerness here all the time to get news from the Confederacy
; and whenever a steamer arrives, she is at once surrounded by a great number of little boats, filled with as great a variety of human beings, all intent on the same business — that is, news.
The negro is the predominant element; and if a white man conducts himself properly, he may consider himself quite as good as one.
For fear that I might be tempted to show that I consider myself a little better, I keep my distance.
I understand that English law is not as liberal towards men as ours; so it is best to keep out of its reach.
I feel that I am moving in a new sphere, really.
There are a good many Confederates here, all apparently in the Government
The bombardment of Wilmington
created quite a sensation, and "block" runners are beginning to think that their occupation is getting to be pretty much like Othello's.
I hope you will hear of my return very soon.
Should the port of Wilmington
be closed effectually, I may may go to Galveston, Texas
, by way of Havana
There is no denying the fact that things are looking rather blue for us now; but I hope we will come out O. K. yet. J.