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Title: Running the Blockade - A Personal Narrative of Adventures, Risks, and Escapes - during the American Civil War
Author: Taylor, Thomas E.
Language: English
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                          RUNNING THE BLOCKADE


[Illustration: BURNING OF THE _NIGHT HAWK_. _Frontispiece._]



                          RUNNING THE BLOCKADE


                        A PERSONAL NARRATIVE OF
                         ADVENTURES, RISKS, AND
                           ESCAPES DURING THE
                           AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

                          By THOMAS E. TAYLOR


                 WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JULIAN CORBETT
                         MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS

                                 LONDON
                     JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET

                                  1896



                              INTRODUCTION


A German admiral has remarked that the most valuable naval history lies
in the despatches and logs of naval officers. Our own Navy Record
Society by the line it has taken thoroughly endorses this view, and has
committed itself to the teaching of naval history from the mouths of the
men who made it.

Mr. Taylor's work then must not be taken as a mere record of personal
adventure, however absorbing it be found from this point of view. As a
picture of exciting escapes, of coolness and resource at moments of
acute danger, of well-calculated risks, boldly accepted and obstinately
carried through, it has few rivals in recent sea-story: but its deeper
value does not lie here. Over and above its romantic interest it will be
recognised by students of the naval art as a real and solid contribution
to history; for it presents to us from the pen of a principal actor the
most complete account we have of a great blockade in the days of steam.

The important part that blockade plays in naval warfare is a thing
hardly recognised outside professional ranks. For the general reader,
the grand manœuvres of a great fleet in chase of the enemy and the
stirring hours of some decisive action throw into oblivion the tedious
months of dull, anxious, and exhausting work with which by far the
greater part of the war is taken up. Yet it is hardly too much to say
that during the most glorious period of our maritime history nine-tenths
of the energies of our admirals were devoted to blockade. In the future
it is possible that it will take even a higher place. Should England
become engaged with a first-rate foreign power, single-handed, it is a
recognised fact amongst naval strategists that in a week she could close
every one of her enemy's ports and have a fleet free to reduce at its
leisure everything he held beyond the seas. With almost any two Powers
against her it is probable she could do as much: and it is the
recognition of this power abroad which gives England, in spite of her
military weakness, so commanding a position in Europe.

The importance then of studying every scrap of information on the
subject in order to perfect our knowledge of the art of blockade cannot
be exaggerated, and Mr. Taylor's simple and straightforward record of
his experiences may claim to be perhaps the fullest contribution to the
subject that as yet exists. Experiences of individual captains we have
had, and, read with the present work, they are of high value: but Mr.
Taylor has something more to tell. Not only did he run the blockade
personally a greater number of times than any one else, but, boy as he
was at the time, he was the chief organiser of a great and systematised
attack on the Northern blockade, such as the world had never seen
before. His operations may be said to have opened a new era in the
history of blockade, and one which bids fair to have far-reaching
consequences for every maritime Power.

To make clear his position and its dangers and difficulties a word must
be said on the general subject of blockade. Blockade, it must be clearly
borne in mind, is of two kinds, the one military, the other commercial.
The first concerns the belligerents alone, and consists in one of them,
who has obtained a working command of the sea, imprisoning the other's
war fleets in their own ports. It was this form of blockade which
absorbed by far the greatest part of our naval activity during the great
French wars. During the American Civil War it was considerably
practised, and from American sources may be studied in complete detail
the efforts of the Confederate war-ships to escape the vigilance of
Federal blockading squadrons. The second form, or commercial blockade,
is one that principally concerns neutrals, and it was of course to this
form alone that Mr. Taylor's operations extended.

The International Law which regulates its conditions as between neutrals
and belligerents is shortly this. A belligerent, if strong enough at sea
to close one or more ports of his enemy, may give notice to Neutral
Powers that such port or ports are blockaded, and thereafter if any
neutral vessel attempts to enter or leave them, the belligerent may
treat it as an enemy, and may destroy or capture and condemn it as an
ordinary prize. To run a blockade then is an operation attended with all
the risks of war. Indeed a blockade-runner is in an even worse position
than a hostile belligerent; for not being a combatant he may not resist
the efforts of the blockaders to destroy or capture him. He is entitled
to escape if he can, but a single shot or blow in his own defence makes
him a pirate, and a belligerent capturing him may treat him as such. But
it must always be remembered that for a belligerent to be entitled to
exercise these high prerogatives he must first have constituted a real
and effective blockade. A mere declaration that a port is closed is not
enough. It must be so closely watched and invested with an adequate
naval force that no neutral can leave or enter without running present
danger of being sunk or captured.

Analogous to the rights arising out of an effective blockade, and always
to be clearly distinguished from them, is the right of a belligerent to
treat as an enemy a neutral vessel carrying contraband of war to his
enemy's ports, and this right he may always exercise, whether the ports
in question be effectively blockaded or not.

It was this consideration, no doubt, combined with a desire to preserve
a strict neutrality and to see the South treated as belligerents and not
as mere insurgents, that induced the English Government to recognise the
Federal blockade as soon as it was declared. At the opening of the war
the Federal Government, in defiance of International Law, declared the
whole Southern seaboard under blockade. It was a blockade they were then
wholly unable to enforce or even to pretend to enforce, but as most of
our blockade-runners carried contraband of war, there was very little to
be gained by disputing the Federal pretensions. Some injustice, no
doubt, was thus done to the South. But it was more than counterbalanced
by the advantage they gained in that the recognition of the blockade
made them indisputably belligerents. For these reasons our Government
thought it wise to waive its neutral rights and submit to a paper
blockade, which did not exist. As the Northern power increased at sea
the blockade became more and more effective, and by the time Mr. Taylor
had got fully to work it may be said to have been something more than a
pretence. Finally it became very strict and thoroughly effective, and it
is with this instructive period that his reminiscences are chiefly
concerned.

This declaration of a blockade that could not be enforced at the time
was not the only extension of belligerent rights which the Federal
Government claimed and exercised in respect of blockade. As Mr. Taylor
fully explains, they did not confine their operations against
blockade-runners to the established practice of watching the closed
ports. Not only did they cruise for offenders on the high seas, but they
intercepted them close to their points of departure, thousands of miles
from the blockaded ports. Nay, they even went so far as to attempt to
blockade the neutral ports which the offending vessels were using as
bases of operations. To most of these claims no objection was made, and
there is no doubt that in any future war similar operations will be
recognised without question, as within belligerent rights.

In previous wars a belligerent declaring a blockade had to concern
himself with little more than turning back ordinary merchantmen who had
not received notice of the blockade, or cutting off small fry of the
smuggling type that slipped over from adjacent coasts to take their
chance of getting in. Such a thing as neutral merchants establishing
public companies to build fleets of specially designed vessels for the
avowed purpose of breaking a blockade which was thoroughly effective
against ordinary types of merchantmen, was a thing unknown to
International Law. And further, when these merchants stretched their
rights as neutrals so far as to establish regular bases almost in the
enemy's waters from which to conduct their revolutionary operations, it
was obvious that some latitude must be granted to the blockading power.
No objection, therefore, was ever raised to his cutting off vessels
avowedly constructed for blockade-running at any point he chose; but
when he attempted to blockade neutral ports from which they were acting,
England put her foot down and compelled the Federal cruisers to draw
off. In this she was clearly within her rights. But although the Federal
claim to this bold extension of belligerent rights was undoubtedly
illegal, it was not without provocation. It is another law of blockade
that a vessel is not "guilty" and cannot be interfered with unless it is
bound for a blockaded port. The system pursued by Mr. Taylor of
establishing depots or bases on British territory close to American
waters thus greatly increased the difficulties of the cruisers. Goods
destined for the blockaded ports were consigned first to one of these
bases, Bermuda, Havana, or the Bahamas, and on their way could not be
touched by the Northern captains. It was naturally a great temptation to
these officers as they watched the offensive traffic pouring into the
runner's bases to see that it did not get out. It is even conceivable
that England might have been induced to wink at their proceedings. But
it so happened that the first and only attempt to blockade
blockade-runners in a British port was made by the very officer who was
the culprit in the _Trent_ affair, and that too while we were still
unsoothed from his last violation of our neutrality. The British
Government, therefore, happened to be in a very irritable mood with the
North, and though they had hitherto been inexhaustible in their sympathy
with the Federal belligerent pretensions, they now peremptorily stopped
their complacency and the North had to submit.

Whether the claim made tentatively by the Northern Government is
destined to become recognised by International Law is by no means clear.
In the case in question the neutral was too powerful to be resisted.
Shortly after, however, the same scheme was actually put in operation by
one of the most famous of Mr. Taylor's colleagues, the "notorious
Captain Roberts," the arch-blockade runner and a British naval officer.
When the American war closed, the Turkish Government had been trying for
months to suppress an insurrection in Crete by blockading the island on
the old lines. Hobart (whose _nom de guerre_ as a blockade-runner was
"Roberts"), profiting by his recent experience, undertook to suppress it
in a week, and his offer was accepted. The insurgents were living
entirely on supplies sent them from Greece, and Hobart having been
placed in command of the blockading squadron proceeded at once to
blockade the Greek vessels in their own ports, and the Cretans were
immediately starved into surrender.

This and every other indication show a tendency for the belligerent
rights of blockade to increase at the expense of the neutral. If this be
so, then blockade must become a more and more effective naval operation,
and hence the importance of its study down to the minutest particulars
from which any forecast of the future may be obtained.

For the non-professional reader one of the chief points of technical
interest in Mr. Taylor's book will be the light it throws on a great
national question, which periodically comes out in moments of alarm. It
is now a common subject for paragraphists to dilate upon how, if England
lost command of the sea, her food supply would be cut off in a week (or
some other minute period) and herself be brought to the mercy of her
enemy. However useful such prognostications may be for stimulating an
interest in the navy, they are full of fallacies and even dangerous as
leading to demands for naval armaments so extravagant as to cause the
taxpayer to turn his back on the navy altogether, and button his pockets
in sheer disgust. To begin with, if England lost the command of the sea,
it does not follow that any one else would obtain it, a fact too often
lost sight of in naval discussion. The thing does not hang in a simple
dilemma. You cannot say, either England has the command or her enemy has
it. There is still the middle hypothesis, that neither has it. And this
in all reasonable probability is the worst that could suddenly befall
us. The destruction of England's command of the sea is no child's play,
and even if three Powers together succeeded in doing it, it could only
be at such a sacrifice to themselves as would leave the seas practically
free to the operations of neutrals. Mr. Taylor's experiences show
clearly how surprisingly easy it was for bold and expert captains with
adequate vessels to run the most strict and effective blockades. Were
England to become engaged in a great war, the first step would be for
numbers of her mercantile marine to pass to neutral flags, and all these
vessels with their crews would be ready-made blockade-runners the moment
there was a call for them. And even assuming that by some extraordinary
chance the British fleet for a time was suppressed with little or no
damage to the enemy, the precedents of the American war go to show that
the navies of three Powers absolutely intact could hardly avail to
maintain a blockade of such a coast-line as ours.

The conditions of blockade, it is true, have changed, but the balance
remains much the same. Mr. Taylor considers that search-lights, for
instance, tell quite as much for one side as the other. Increased speed
is at least as favourable for running as it is for blockading. Torpedo
boats seem hardly to affect the balance at all. For while they render
the position of a blockading squadron less secure than formerly, they on
the other hand furnish it with ideal patrols. Quick-firing guns are all
in favour of the blockader, but on the other hand, long-range guns of
position are all against him, compelling him to keep further to sea and
so to cover more ground. The extreme importance of invisibility too, on
which Mr. Taylor insists, shows how great an advantage a runner, able to
procure good smokeless coal, would have over a force blockading the
English coast which could not obtain it. On the whole we may safely
conclude that a commercial blockade is certainly no easier than it was
in the sixties. Many indications from the following pages show how
difficult it is to maintain the blockade even of half a dozen ports, if
you are unable to intercept the regular runners at their points of
departure. This a force without undisputed mastery of the sea could
never effect to a sufficient extent. The lesson then that the following
pages most clearly teaches is, that the danger of the British Isles
being blockaded by any conceivable combination of hostile Powers, so as
to reduce her even approximately near starvation, may be dismissed as
outside the region of practical strategy; and in the next place they
show us the vast importance of maintaining in our navy an adequate force
of vessels of a type calculated to render a commercial blockade really
effective. What Mr. Taylor was able to do with one little steamer to
prolong Lee's resistance is a lesson to be remembered beside Dundonald's
operations on the coast of Spain.

Such are a few of the considerations which Mr. Taylor's book suggests.
Different men will draw different lessons from the facts it presents,
but its value as the work of a man of unequalled experience in the
working of a great blockade will be admitted by all: and whatever weight
may be attached to the author's conclusions from his practical
experience, the little work will amply justify its existence if it in
any way stimulates interest in the practical side of a subject, which
naval writers seem inclined to leave too much in the hands of
International lawyers.

                                                         JULIAN CORBETT.

_May 1896._



                                CONTENTS


   CHAPTER I                                                     PAGE
   HOW I BEGAN                                                      1
   CHAPTER II
   MY FIRST ATTEMPT ON THE _DESPATCH_                              16
   CHAPTER III
   THE _BANSHEE NO. 1_                                             33
   CHAPTER IV
   THE _BANSHEE'S_ FIRST RUN IN                                    44
   CHAPTER V
   FORT FISHER AND WILMINGTON                                      55
   CHAPTER VI
   THE REST OF THE _BANSHEE NO. 1.'S_ CAREER                       70
   CHAPTER VII
   LIFE AT NASSAU                                                  86
   CHAPTER VIII
   OUR FLEET                                                      101
   CHAPTER IX
   BERMUDA                                                        115
   CHAPTER X
   EXPERIENCES ASHORE IN DIXIE'S LAND                             131
   CHAPTER XI
   HAVANA AND GALVESTON                                           145
   CHAPTER XII
   BLOCKADES OF THE PAST AND THE FUTURE                           166
   INDEX                                                          177



                       ILLUSTRATIONS, MAPS, ETC.


 BURNING OF THE _NIGHT HAWK_                   _Frontispiece_       iv

 CHART OF WILMINGTON HARBOUR AND APPROACHES    _Page_               45

 PORTRAIT OF COLONEL LAMB                      _To face page_       56

 _BANSHEE_ CHASED BY _JAMES ADGER_             _To face page_       78

 _WILL-O'-THE-WISP'S_ DASH FOR WILMINGTON      _To face page_      106

 _BANSHEE NO. 2_ RUNNING THE GAUNTLET OF THE
   GALVESTON BLOCKADING SQUADRON IN DAYLIGHT   _To face page_      156

 MAP OF THE EAST COAST OF NORTH AMERICA                            _At
                                                                  end_



                               CHAPTER I

                              HOW I BEGAN

   Feeling in Liverpool—Declaration of blockade—Its immediate
       result—Effect on trade in Liverpool—The theory of
       blockades—Attitude of the Federal States—Seaboard of the
       Seceding States—The Federal Navy—Energy of the Northern
       States—Additions to the Federal Fleet—Position of the
       Southerners at sea—Want of building yards and material—Commerce
       destroyers—The _Merrimac_ and the _Monitor_—The _Alabama_
       and her consorts—Attitude of Great Britain—A royal
       proclamation—Preparation for blockade-running—Amateurish
       efforts—Daring attempts—The _Trent_ affair—Launched
       as a blockade-runner.


At the outbreak of the great American Civil War I was serving as
assistant to a firm of Liverpool merchants trading chiefly with India
and the United States. There was little in my life at the outset to
foretell the full taste of danger, excitement, and adventure which it
was my fortune so early to enjoy. I had nothing to hope for beyond the
usual life of office routine and a dim chance of a partnership abroad in
the future.

Young as I was, my interest in the coming struggle was deeply aroused.
From the position I occupied its significance was brought home to me
with the absorbing interest of a factor in my career. My own fortunes
and those of my nearest friends seemed at their outset to be bound up in
a piece of history that promised to leave its mark upon the world.
Nowhere indeed out of America was the secession of the Southern States
more keenly watched or canvassed than in Liverpool offices and upon the
Exchange of the city, which American trade had begotten and nursed; and
the particular aspect of the impending war was most calculated to fill
the imagination of youngsters like myself, who were awakening from the
dreams of boyhood to the excitements of real life.

It will be remembered that, as soon as war was seen to be inevitable,
President Lincoln sanctioned the heroic measure of attempting to choke
secession by closing every orifice through which supplies could be
drawn, and in the middle of April 1861 rebellion was turned into civil
war by his declaring the whole of the Southern ports in a state of
blockade. One of the immediate results of this act of President Lincoln
was the prompt acknowledgment of the South as belligerents by England
and France. Yet the Federal States persisted in maintaining that the
Confederates were rebels, and that whosoever ventured to recognise them
as belligerents must be regarded as friends of rebels and no friends of
the North. They ignored the fact that their interference with neutral
trade, by this declaration of blockade, was a virtual concession of
belligerency to the South. A declaration of blockade presupposes a state
of war and not mere rebellion, and the claim by the Federals of a right
to seize neutral vessels attempting to break a blockade was one which
can be exercised only by a belligerent; exercised by any one else it is
mere piracy.

The effect of the news on the Liverpool Exchange it is needless to
describe. By the scratch of a foreign pen a blow that was without
precedent was struck at the chief trade of the port. So prodigious
indeed was this first act of war that for some time there was a doubt
whether the Neutral Powers would recognise it. Only five years before
the Powers assembled at Paris to wind up the Russian war had by solemn
agreement declared, as the final and universal law of nations, that
blockades to be binding must be effective; that is to say, that all the
ports declared to be blockaded must be actually invested, or at least so
closely watched by a cruising squadron that no ship can attempt to leave
or enter without manifest danger of capture. Now, as the seaboard of the
Seceding States extended from the river Potomac in Virginia, above Cape
Hatteras, down to the Rio Grande (the southern frontier of Texas), the
coast-line which the Federal Government had to watch effectively was
some 3000 miles in length. It was studded, moreover, at wide intervals
with ten or a dozen ports of first-rate importance.

The total fleet of the United States when the war broke out consisted of
less than 150 vessels, of which fully one-third were quite
unserviceable. About forty had crews; the rest were out of commission,
and of these ten or eleven of the best were lying at the Norfolk Navy
Yard and fell into the hands of the Confederates. From these figures it
will be seen, therefore, how impossible it was at first to maintain the
blockade which the Northerners had declared, and how ineffectual it must
be, seeing the length of coast-line to be watched.

With their usual energy, however, the Northerners set to work to
increase their fleet; within very few weeks over 150 vessels had been
purchased and equipped for sea, and more than fifty ironclads and
gunboats laid down and rapidly pushed forward towards completion. In
addition to these a large number of river craft were requisitioned and
protected by bullet-proof iron for service on the rivers; but even with
these vigorous measures the blockade was anything but effective during
the first eighteen months or two years of the war. But the Northerners
steadily and by almost superhuman efforts increased their fleet, and at
the beginning of 1865 had so far succeeded that they possessed a fleet
of nearly 700 vessels, of which some 150 were employed upon the blockade
of Wilmington and Charleston alone, and patrolling their adjacent
waters.

It can easily be imagined, therefore, that attempting to get in and out
of those ports in the latter months of 1864 and the early ones of 1865
was a very different business from the condition of affairs which
existed earlier in the war. When the above ports fell into the hands of
the Northerners, the blockade, considering the nature of the coast-line
and types of vessels employed as blockaders and runners, was to all
intents and purposes as effective as could be expected; for the
blockading fleet consisted of almost every description of craft, from
the old-fashioned 60-gun frigate to the modern "Ironsides" and
"Monitors," supplemented by dozens of merchant-steamers converted into
gunboats—not very formidable, perhaps, as war-ships, but still dangerous
to blockade-runners, especially when fast.

The Southerners, on the other hand, were practically without any navy,
with the exception of a few old wooden vessels which they seized at
Norfolk Navy Yard at the outbreak of the war; and, as they were almost
entirely devoid of engineering works, material, or skilled labour, they
could do but little to compete with the North upon the ocean. Their
naval efforts were chiefly in the direction of supplying themselves from
outside sources with commerce destroyers, such as the _Alabama_,
_Florida_, _Shenandoah_, _Georgia_, etc., though from the wretched and
scanty material which they possessed they succeeded in building two or
three formidable ironclads; but their engines and armament were
defective, and their crews unskilled. Notwithstanding these drawbacks,
however, the _Merrimac_, one of the old wooden steamers which they had
seized at Norfolk, and which they had converted into an ironclad by
covering the hull with railway iron, fought a gallant fight in Hampton
Roads with the celebrated _Monitor_, after having destroyed on the
previous day the _Congress_ and _Cumberland_, two large Northern
war-ships.

Another ironclad was also improvised by the Southerners at Mobile. She
was called the _Tennessee_, and was altogether a more formidable craft
than the _Merrimac_, both as regards armament and size, but like the
_Merrimac_ was terribly defective in engine power. When Farragut
attacked Mobile she did considerable damage to his fleet, and for a time
engaged it single-handed, but at last was forced to haul down her flag.

The Confederates also built another small ironclad at Wilmington on the
same lines as the _Merrimac_ and _Tennessee_, but unfortunately she ran
ashore on her passage down the river, in order to attack the blockaders
outside, and became a total wreck. In addition to the ships I have
mentioned they possessed the _Sumpter_, _Rappahanock_, _Tallahasse_
(steamers), and several sailing vessels; but with these vessels they had
no chance against their powerful rivals in actual warfare, although the
_Alabama_ and her consorts swept the mercantile navy of the United
States from the ocean.

Seeing how inadequate the Federal navy was at the time when the blockade
was declared, there was certainly a strong case for treating President
Lincoln's prohibition as a mere "paper" blockade. This, however, the
British Government did not choose to do. At this time we were
particularly anxious, in view of the coming International Exhibition, to
stand well with all men and to be entangled in no foreign complications.
Within a fortnight, therefore, of the receipt of the news, there came
out a Royal Proclamation enjoining on all loyal subjects of the British
Crown an attitude of strict neutrality, and solemnly admonishing them
under pain of Her Majesty's displeasure to respect the Federal blockade.

Needless to say, the proclamation awakened no respect whatever for the
blockade. The lecture in the latter part of it was received in the
spirit in which it was issued—as a piece of mere international courtesy;
and those of Her Majesty's loyal subjects who were most affected by the
new situation at once took steps to make the best of it. With due
respect to the pain of Her Majesty's displeasure we all knew that to run
a foreign blockade could never be an offence against the laws of the
realm, nor were we to be persuaded that any number of successful or
unsuccessful attempts to enter the proclaimed ports could ever
constitute a breach of neutrality. Firm after firm, with an entirely
clear conscience, set about endeavouring to recoup itself for the loss
of legitimate trade by the high profits to be made out of successful
evasions of the Federal cruisers; and in Liverpool was awakened a spirit
the like of which had not been known since the palmy days of the slave
trade.

It was a spirit of adventurous commerce savouring of the good old days
of the French wars, when a lad might any day be called from the office
to take his place on the deck of a privateer, and when daring spirits
were always ready to steal away from a convoy and run the risk of
capture on the chance of getting the cream of the market. The risks a
blockade-runner had to face were much the same, for as no Government
pretends to interfere with its citizens if they choose at their peril to
trade in the face of a blockade, so no protection or redress is given
them if they are caught red-handed. After official notification of
blockade any neutral vessel attempting to leave or enter a blockaded
port forfeits its neutrality and places itself in the position of a
hostile belligerent. The blockading force is entitled to treat such a
ship in all respects as an enemy, and to use any means recognised in
civilised warfare to drive off, capture, or destroy her. A crew so
captured may be treated as prisoners of war, and their vessel carried
into the captor's port, where after condemnation by an Admiralty court
she becomes his prize. Nor is any resistance to capture permitted, and a
single blow or shot in his own defence turns the blockade-runner into a
pirate.

Such was the exciting prospect our seamen and supercargoes had before
them as they sailed for the Southern ports. At first, of course, the
risk was not thought very great; the Confederate ports were so many and
far between, and the Federal navy so weak and unorganised, that vessels
proceeded very much as if there was no blockade at all. The consequence
was that as early as June 1861, barely two months after the declaration
of the blockade, several English vessels had been seized and condemned.
Almost every week after that brought news of fresh captures; on the
other hand, so many ships succeeded in getting through the widely
scattered cruisers, that the business still went on in the old clumsy
way. We had neither of us learnt our trade then; the Federal captains,
in hopes of fat prizes, cruised without order and chased wide, leaving
ports open for new-comers, while our best idea of minimising risks was
to send out old unseaworthy slugs which we could well afford to lose.

During the whole of the first year of the war it was in this amateurish
way that things went on. A pretty regular tale of captures came in, and
among the reports the mails brought home began to be whispered stories
of daring attempts, and hair-breadth escapes, that set many a youngster
kicking very impatiently under his desk. There came stories, too, of
exasperated or ill-conditioned Federal captains who had behaved with
unwarrantable bluster or tyranny to captured crews, and these began to
awaken in mercantile circles a partisan leaning towards the South, which
certainly did not exist at the beginning of the war. Some of us, it must
be confessed, were growing oblivious of our duty as loyal subjects and
of the solemn admonitions of the proclamation of neutrality, and for not
a few the profit of making a successful run began to be seasoned with
the pleasure of doing a good turn to the South. It is all bygone now;
runners can laugh over the rough knocks they sometimes got, and
blockaders at the weary dance they were led. But in those days the ill
feeling was very strong, and in the midst of all the fermenting
irritation dropped the grating surprise of the _Trent_ affair.

Captain Wilkes, a Federal naval officer commanding the West India
station and engaged in blockade duties, took upon himself, with more
zeal than law, to board the _Trent_, a British mail steamer, on the high
seas, and seize from its deck two Confederate diplomatic agents who were
passengers from Havana, accredited respectively to the French and the
British Governments. There is no doubt that the English nation was
prepared to make any sacrifice to resent this outrage, and feeling ran
very deep while we waited for the answer to our demands for redress. It
cannot be denied that people on the other side made themselves a little
ridiculous and irritating over our perfectly reasonable request for the
surrender of the prisoners. Captain Wilkes was the hero of the hour, and
blustering exultation over England the tune of the street. But in the
White House heads were cooler, and in due course full reparation was
made. Still the "spoiled child of diplomacy" was not made to
apologise—she barely expressed regret, and her omission of this
international courtesy, combined with the extravagances of her press,
confirmed in many Englishmen their inchoate partisanship for the South.

Such was the state of things when, one day early in the year 1862, one
of the partners in the house where I was serving called me into his
room. After telling me how he and a few friends had purchased a steamer
to have a try at the blockade, he asked me if I would care to go as
supercargo?

The answer was not doubtful. It was a stroke of luck far better than I
had any right to expect at my age (for I was but twenty-one), and
needless to say I embraced my fortune with alacrity.

"By all means," said I, "if I am not too young."

My chief was good enough to say that he thought I was _not_ too young,
and so I was fairly launched in my career as a blockade-runner.



                               CHAPTER II

                   MY FIRST ATTEMPT ON THE _DESPATCH_

    The _Despatch_—A blockade-runner's cargo—The start for the
        West Indies—Put back to Queenstown—A terrific gale—Arrival at
        Nassau—The dangers of somnambulism—A haunt for buccaneers—A
        sleepy settlement—Neutral territory—Southern firms running
        the blockade—Nassau as a basis of operations—The _Despatch_
        condemned—Efforts to meet a more stringent blockade—"No cure
        no pay"—Yellow fever—Seizure of the _Despatch_—A scheme
        for her rescue—Her release.


Were it only for the glimpse it gives of the state of the mercantile
marine thirty years ago, my first voyage would be worth relating. Those
who do not know how things were before the Plimsoll Act had made a
revolution in Merchant Shipping would hardly believe what a man even in
my position was expected to undergo without complaint.

The steamer that had been purchased as a blockade-runner, like most
others at this time, was quite unfit for the purpose. To explain that
she was a second-hand Irish cattle boat will convey to those who have
voyaged in St. George's Channel a fair idea of what she was. Those who
have not must understand that the average quality and condition of such
craft are very low, and the _Despatch_ was not above the average. Her
boilers were nearly worn out; her engines had been sadly neglected; and
added to this, she drew far too much water for the hazardous entrances
of the blockaded ports. But so indifferent were the ships at this time
composing the blockading squadrons, so insufficient their numbers, and
so inefficient their crews, that during the first year small sailing
vessels of light draught and ordinary trading steamers were employed for
the purpose of running the blockade.

As has been shown, anything was thought good enough for a
blockade-runner then, and no time was lost in getting a cargo on board
the _Despatch_. In choosing this there was not much difficulty. In
January a vessel flying the Confederate colours had put into Liverpool;
she had run the blockade out and was thus able to bring us, not only the
latest news of the Federal fleet, but also full information of the kind
of cargo that would be most welcome in the Southern ports.

The chief requirements were war materials of every sort, cloth for
uniforms, buttons, thread, boots, stockings, and all clothing,
medicines, salt, boiler-iron, steel, copper, zinc, and chemicals. As it
did not pay merchants to ship heavy goods, the charge for freight per
ton at Nassau being £80 to £100 in gold, a great portion of the cargo
generally consisted of light goods, such as silks, laces, linens,
quinine, etc., on which immense profits were made. At this time there
were no mills, and practically no manufactories in the Confederate
States, so their means of production were _nil_. With the progress of
the war their need of war material increased so sorely that in 1864 the
Confederate Government limited the freight-room on private account, and
prohibited the importation of luxuries on the ground that if allowed to
come in and be purchased the resources of the country would thereby be
absorbed.

As soon as her lading was complete a start was made. And what a start it
was! It almost takes one's breath away in these be-legislated days to
think what the _Despatch_ must have looked like as she dropped down the
Mersey. Her owners had taken advantage of their timely information to
load her down, as low as she would float, with a cargo consisting of
ponderous cases and barrels of war material as well as light goods; her
deck was piled as high as the rail with coal, which had to be taken for
the voyage to Nassau, so as to avoid calling at any intermediate port;
and she steamed out to brave the Atlantic with barely one foot of
freeboard to her credit.

Fortunately at the outset the weather kept fair, or my career must have
had a very premature end; but thanks to an unusually fine February we
wallowed along pretty comfortably, till we had made some 400 miles to
the south-west of Ireland. Here, however, through the carelessness of
the engineers, the water was allowed to get so low in the boilers that
the crowns to the furnaces of one of them were "brought down." This
means that only by a miracle was an explosion escaped, and that the
_Despatch_ was entirely incapacitated from proceeding on her voyage.
There was nothing to do but to put back for repairs, under one boiler,
and we laid her head for Queenstown, thanking our stars it was no worse.

It was three weeks before we could get to sea again, and then it was
only to find ourselves once more on the brink of destruction. Before we
had passed the Azores we came in for a terrific gale, which our
overladen vessel was in no condition to meet; she speedily sprang a
leak, so serious that in a very short time four of the eight furnaces
were extinguished and the firemen were toiling at the rest up to their
knees in water. For hours we looked for her to founder at any moment, as
the gray breakers came rolling upon us, but somehow we managed to keep
her afloat, and in due course were ploughing through the sunny waters of
New Providence, and came to rest in the pretty harbour of Nassau.

In those days I was a confirmed somnambulist, and one stormy night
considerably astonished the officer of the watch by suddenly appearing
on the bridge at midnight in bare feet and sleeping attire. Gripping him
by the arm I yelled, "For God's sake respect the spars," and turning on
my heel returned to my cabin along the slippery deck, with the steamer
pitching and rolling in half a gale of wind. Of course the man thought I
was mad, but was too astonished to seize me; perhaps it was fortunate he
did not do so, as to have been suddenly awakened in such a situation
might have been anything but pleasant. I have for many years given up
this dangerous habit. My last escapade occurred a long time ago, when
one afternoon on board a P. & O. steamer, while taking a siesta, I
suddenly jumped through the upper half door of my deck cabin and
appeared in very light attire, to the astonished gaze of some fifty
passengers who were on the quarter-deck. Fortunately a friend who was
travelling with me managed to clasp me round the waist before I could
jump overboard, and conducted me to my cabin none the worse, except for
a skinned nose and barked shins. My fellow-passengers, however, were
evidently suspicious regarding my condition of mind, and looked very
much askance when I appeared at dinner, thinking no doubt that I was a
lunatic and my friend my keeper.

If that voyage had been almost enough to extinguish all the ardour I had
for the life before me, Nassau was enough to set it well aflame again.
The very thought of the place and of the exciting life there in those
days, through the brief fever of its prosperity, sets my fancy tingling
even now.

Those few short years of extravagant importance—so sudden, so fitful, so
completely passed away—are like a dream, and it seems almost impossible
to revive a picture of what Nassau was when it found itself the base of
operations against the great blockade. For centuries the little town had
slumbered in complete obscurity. Depopulated and abandoned in the old
days by the Spaniards, it had been occupied in Stuart times by
Englishmen, and became a haunt of buccaneers. Then followed a century or
so when it was a counter for diplomatists, and buccaneers settled down
into wreckers, scraping together hard-earned living from the hurricanes'
leavings, and filling up the dull months between the stormy seasons with
a little fruit raising and sponge fishing. Thus ingloriously had it
faded into the obscurest of colonial capitals, with a population of some
3000 or 4000 souls. There lived and ruled the Governor of the Bahamas,
and there lived the Chief Justice and the Bishop; these with their
modest following, and the officers of a West India regiment and a few of
the leading merchants and their families, made up almost all there was
of society! Little more eventful ever broke the monotony of their feuds
and friendships than the visit of one of the ships forming the West
Indian squadron. Their Lilliputian politics went on from year to year,
undisturbed and uncared for; there was nothing to mark their place in
the world but a dusty pigeon-hole somewhere in the Colonial Office,
which was filled, and emptied, and filled again. Every one was poor and
every one lazily hopeless of any further development; a few schooners
that came and went at infrequent intervals sufficed for all the trade
there was, and the whole air of the sleepy settlement had been one of
indolent acquiescence in its own obscurity.

Then past all expectations came the war, and gold poured into its
astonished lap. When first I saw the low line of houses nestling in the
tropical vegetation of their gardens a change had already taken place.
The blockade had been on foot a bare year, but even then the quiet
little port had asserted its new importance and was overflowing with the
turmoil of life. Many influential firms connected with the Southern
States, and also English ones, had established agencies there, and
almost every day steamers managed by those agents left the harbour to
try their luck at evading the blockade or arrived with cargoes of cotton
from the beleagured ports. Of course, seeing that Nassau was only some
560 miles from Charleston and 640 from Wilmington, and that, moreover,
the chain of the Bahama islets extended some hundred miles in the
direction of those ports, thus providing the extra protection of neutral
territory for that distance, Nassau was _par excellence_ the base for
approaching the blockaded Atlantic ports of the South. Bermuda was its
rival, but only in a lesser degree, as it was further off, and its
conveniences as regards communication and accommodation were less. It is
some 690 miles distant from Wilmington, the course being somewhat to the
northward of west, and in the autumn especially it was seldom possible
to get over without encountering a gale of wind. The one thing necessary
for the blockading vessels being speed, their hulls were of the lightest
description; this, coupled with the fact that they were always loaded
down deep with coal, made a gale of wind an even worse enemy to
encounter than a Federal cruiser.

Havana was the best base for the Gulf ports, but as New Orleans was
captured early on in the war, Galveston and Mobile were the only two
blockaded ports that could be approached from it; and seeing the
difficulty there was in procuring cotton at those places and of
disposing of inward cargoes, the trade done with them was a flea-bite
compared with that from Charleston and Wilmington. At one time the trade
of these two ports assumed very large proportions; the number of vessels
employed in it was astonishing, and no sooner was one sunk, stranded,
burnt, or captured than two more seemed to take her place.

Of Southern firms Messrs. Fraser, Trenholm, and Co. did the largest
business, as they were not only engaged largely on their own account in
blockade-running enterprises, but they were also agents for the Southern
States Government. Their representative in Nassau, Mr. J. B. Lafitte, a
charming man in every respect, occupied a most prominent position,—in
fact more prominent than that of the Governor himself, and certainly he
was remunerated better.

After Fraser, Trenholm, and Co. came the English firm of Alex. Collie
and Co., at that time one of great repute, represented by my friend L.
G. Watson, and they from time to time were possessed of a large fleet of
runners commanded mostly by naval officers. After them came the house I
represented, which from first to last owned some fifteen steamers; and
after them a number of small firms, owning perhaps one, possibly two,
boats apiece, so that in the aggregate the number of boats and the
capital employed was enormous.

So nicely has Nature dispersed the Bahamas that they afforded neutral
water to within fifty miles of the American coast, and no sooner was the
blockade declared than the advantages of Nassau as a basis of operations
were recognised and embraced. The harbour was alive with shipping, the
quays were piled with cotton, the streets were thronged with busy life.
So far grown and established indeed did I find the business of
blockade-running, that I was seized with a sense of being late in the
field and with a desire to rush in and reclaim lost time. Fortunately
there was little to delay us, so, full of impatience and excitement, we
set about preparing for a run. Our supplies were ready, and in the
harbour lay a barque which had been sent out to act as my coal
store-ship, and afterwards she was to carry home any cotton we should
succeed in getting out. Nothing seemed wanting for a start, but I was
doomed to disappointment. No sooner did I begin to pick up the lore of
the place than the unpleasant truth came out.

Even in the early days there were men whose tales of successful trips
gave them a reputation as "blockade experts," and every one of them
condemned the _Despatch_ as wholly unfit for the work. The blockade was
already gaining system and coherence; the Northerners, no longer content
with simply blockading the Confederate ports, had established a chain of
powerful cruisers which patrolled the seas from the American coast to
the very entrance of Nassau harbour. The old _Despatch_ was much too
slow to stand a ghost of a chance of escaping them, moreover she drew so
much water that the Charleston bar was the only one she could hope to
get over, and it was now so strictly watched that a craft so unhandy was
certain to be captured in the attempt.

After all I had gone through it was a bitter pill to swallow, but it was
impossible for a man entirely without experience, as I was then, to
ignore the exasperating unanimity of the experts; therefore after
consultation with the local agent of my firm I resolved to sell my
cargoes on the spot and get both vessels home to the best advantage.

Still I was not without consolation. Although within a year of the
beginning of the blockade the North, in pursuit of a steady policy, had
secured various bases on the blockaded coast for the use of their
squadrons, which were rapidly being augmented by improved types of
vessels, and had thereby reduced considerably the number of points to be
watched, and though the business of blockade-running was now becoming
risky, no time was lost in endeavouring to meet the new demands on our
energy and skill. If the Federals were learning the business, so were
we. It was clear that the blockade-runners must not only be increased in
numbers but must be improved in type. The day of sailing vessels and
ordinary trading steamers was over; accordingly steamers of great speed
were ordered to be built expressly for the service.

I knew that at home one of the first vessels specially built for
blockade-running had been laid down and was rapidly being completed,
also that she was to be placed under my charge as soon as ready.
Accordingly, towards the end of the year, after making my preliminary
arrangements, I went home full of hope, although sadly impatient at the
year's delay caused by all the mistakes and disasters.

Before getting there, however, I had an anxious time to pass through; it
was necessary to provide some employment for the _Despatch_ and her
consort the barque _Astoria_, and as no direct freight could be obtained
for either I had to cast about for intermediate work for them. The
sailing vessel I despatched to New York, and in an evil moment I made a
contract, on the "no cure no pay" principle, for the _Despatch_ to tow a
disabled steamer to the same port, arranging to go myself in the mail
steamer so as to meet both ships there.

After I had completed my Nassau business I did so, and on my arrival at
New York I was disgusted to find both vessels in quarantine with yellow
fever on board; also that the _Despatch_ had dropped her tow off
Port-Royal in a gale of wind and come on without her.

This was a pretty mess for a youngster to be in, in a strange port like
New York, where everything connected with Nassau was looked upon with
suspicion, and the fear of yellow fever was rampant. It was my first
intimate acquaintance with the disease, but, fortunately, the cooler
climate in time worked its own cure, and, after encountering innumerable
quarantine difficulties, both vessels were given pratique, but not
before several deaths had occurred.

In the interim the _Despatch_ was seized for $30,000 at the suit of the
owners of the steamer which she had attempted to tow, as damages for
letting her go; and she was only released from quarantine to find
herself in the clutches of the Marshal of the port. As I had no means
for providing the required security, the captain and I formed rather a
mad scheme to rescue her from his clutches. The captain was to get her
under weigh quietly, taking the Marshal's officer with him, while I
remained behind to lull suspicion. Early one misty morning he
accomplished this successfully and began to steam slowly down the Bay,
but the revenue cutter lying close alongside gave the alarm, and the
forts opened fire at once. For a time he held on, and was nearly out of
range when the pilot, fearing, I presume, for his share in the
transaction, declined to go further, and there was nothing for it but
ignominiously to return. Of course all this made my position worse, but,
to make a long story short, a kind friend, a prominent New York banker,
went bail for me, and the _Despatch_ was released and loaded for home.
Finally I compromised the case for about $2000. The barque I sent on to
St. John, and, following her myself by steamer, I chartered her to carry
home a cargo of timber.



                              CHAPTER III

                          THE _BANSHEE_ NO. 1

    A landmark in marine architecture—The lines of the _Banshee_—Her
        crew—Serious defects—Loss of time—Driven back off the
        Fastnet—Arrival at Madeira—Northerners and the duties of
        neutrals—Southern sympathies—Federal cruisers—Nearing the
        Bahamas—Admiral Wilkes—The _Banshee_ runs into
        Nassau—Preparing for business—A daring and successful
        commander—Engineer Erskine—Tom Burroughs.


After my disappointment it will easily be imagined how anxious I was to
know how my new ship was progressing. On reaching Liverpool my first
care was to visit the yard where she was being built. To my great
delight I found her almost completed, and a marvel of shipbuilding as it
seemed to us then. For the _Banshee_, as she was called, may claim to be
a landmark not only in the development of blockade but also of marine
architecture. With the exception of a boat built for Livingstone of
African fame, she was, I believe, the first steel ship ever laid down.
The new blockade-runner was a paddle boat, built of steel, on
extraordinarily fine lines, 214 feet long and 20 feet beam, and drew
only 8 feet of water. Her masts were mere poles without yards, and with
the least possible rigging. In order to attain greater speed in a
sea-way she was built with a turtle-back deck forward. She was of 217
tons net register, and had an anticipated sea speed of eleven knots,
with a coal consumption of thirty tons a day. Her crew, which included
three engineers and twelve firemen, consisted of thirty-six hands all
told.

Steel ship-building was then in its infancy, and the _Banshee_ was the
first of a fleet that was soon to become famous. There were several
similar steamers already in hand, and although no one could tell how
they would behave when exposed to the great seas of the Atlantic, the
best results were anticipated from the strength and lightness of their
materials. They were expected to develop a buoyancy beyond everything
that had yet been seen, and American naval officers awaited their
arrival on the scene of activity with an interest as great as ours.

The _Banshee_ was ready for sea early in 1863, and I had the
satisfaction of finding myself steaming down the Mersey in the _first_
steel vessel that ever crossed the Atlantic.

Like most first attempts, however, she was far from a success, and by
the time we reached Queenstown she had betrayed serious defects. To
begin with, the speed she developed was extremely disappointing. With
the idea of protecting her boilers from shot, they had been constructed
so low that they had not sufficient steam space, and, worse than this,
the plates of which she was built, being only an 1/8 and 3/16 of an inch
thick, she proved so weak that her decks leaked like a sieve. It was
found absolutely necessary to put into Queenstown and make such
alterations as were possible. Thus three more weeks were lost, and when
at last we were able to put out again it was only to be driven back off
the Fastnet by a south-westerly gale, which swept the _Banshee_ clean
from stem to stern of everything on deck, filled her fore stoke-hole,
and compelled us to return for fresh repairs. Considering how frail the
vessel was, the wonder is, not that the _Banshee_ was driven back, but
that she ever got across the Atlantic at all. Still her next start was
successful, and reaching Madeira without adventure, excepting a close
shave from being run down in the Bay of Biscay by a French barque, she
began her real career as a blockade-runner.

For even here danger began. At this time a great deal of bad blood was
caused by the way in which the Northerners in their efforts to enforce a
blockade were extending the doctrine of the operations permissible to
belligerents. But there is no doubt now that they were perfectly right.
True, the proposition that a belligerent might seize a neutral ship for
attempted breach of blockade thousands of miles away from the blockaded
coast was one that would have been condemned by the old school of
International lawyers as nothing less than monstrous, and by none more
energetically than the great publicists who have so richly adorned the
American bench.

So far were such doctrines from being recognised, that it was generally
held that a vessel making a long ocean voyage might even call at a
blockaded port to inquire if the blockade was still existent, and, no
matter how suspicious her intentions, she was entitled to a warning
before being captured. But it must be remembered that those were the
days of sailing ships, which might have been without any news of passing
events for months. No blockade of any importance had yet been subjected
to the new conditions of steam navigation, and it was unreasonable to
expect that the blockaders would hold themselves bound by rules which
never contemplated the existing state of things. If the Americans were
stretching the theory of blockade, it was only because we were extending
its practice. It was not to be argued that, if we were building a whole
fleet of steamers for the express purpose of defying their cruisers,
they were not justified in trying to intercept them at any point they
chose. From the very outset the voyages of these vessels showed them to
be guilty, and the most barefaced advocate could hardly have maintained
without shame that they were protected by their ostensibly neutral
destination, when that destination was a notorious nest of offence like
Nassau.

Still the new methods were none the less galling to the susceptibilities
of British merchants, who of all men claimed to go and come on the high
seas as they pleased, and every day those engaged in the service became
more pronounced in their Southern sympathies, and louder in their
denunciations of the Northerner's high-handed ways.

In order to economise coal the _Banshee_ was taking the usual course
adopted by sailing vessels. This was the ordinary practice of runners,
and as the Federals grew bolder, stronger, and more exasperated, they
stretched their patrolling cruisers further and further across the
Atlantic, till, a few weeks after the _Banshee_ left Madeira, a Federal
ship of war was actually lying in wait for one of the new runners at the
mouth of Funchal Bay! The moment the British vessel put to sea the
American opened fire upon her as mercilessly as though she were coming
out of Charleston or Wilmington instead of out of a neutral port, and
nothing but superior speed and clever handling saved her from
destruction within sight and sound of neutral territory.

The _Banshee_ having been earlier in the field was more fortunate, but
the voyage was none the less exciting as she neared the Bahamas. The
neighbouring seas were alive with cruisers who, regarding everything
bound for Nassau as _primâ facie_ guilty of an intention to break the
blockade, seized any vessel they had a mind to on the chance of getting
her condemned in the United States Courts. Indeed, the principal centres
of blockade-running were almost as closely invested as the ports of the
Confederate States, and only a few months before the notorious Captain
Wilkes (now promoted to the rank of Admiral for his popular but
unwarrantable conduct in the _Trent_ affair) had been further
distinguishing himself by literally blockading Bermuda with the squadron
under his command.

Although from first to last the British Government showed nothing but
sympathy with the Northern States in the difficult task of their
blockade, and although they never once complained of a decision of the
American Courts, or in any way countenanced the runners, this was going
a little too far. A protest was unavoidable, and considering the
antecedents of Admiral Wilkes the Federal Government could hardly
complain if two British war-ships were ordered to watch the over-zealous
officer. It would appear that at the White House the representations
from St. James's were regarded as reasonable, for after this the
American cruisers kept a more deferential distance; the _Banshee_ at any
rate was able to run into Nassau without being overhauled, and her
arrival there caused a great sensation, as being the first boat
specially built for the service.

Having received the congratulations of my many friends at Nassau upon
possessing so fine a tool to work with, I at once set about getting her
ready for a trip as soon as the nights set in dark enough. For so
vigilant had the blockading force become by this time, that a successful
run was considered practically impossible except on moonless nights.
Invisibility, care, and determination were the secrets of success, and
to this end the _Banshee_ was carefully prepared. Everything aloft was
taken down, till nothing was left standing but the two lower masts with
small cross-trees for a look-out man on the fore, and the boats were
lowered to the level of the rails. The whole ship was then painted a
sort of dull white, the precise shade of which was so nicely ascertained
by experience before the end of the war that a properly dressed runner
on a dark night was absolutely indiscernible at a cable's length. So
particular were captains on this point that some of them even insisted
on their crews wearing white at night, holding that one black figure on
the bridge or on deck was enough to betray an otherwise invisible
vessel.

Perfect as the _Banshee_ looked, when her toilet was complete, I was
even more fortunate in my crew.

For captain I had Steele, one of the most daring and successful
commanders the time brought out. Absolutely devoid of fear, never
flurried, decided and ready in emergency, and careful as a mother, he
was the beau-ideal of a blockade-runner. Already he had served his
apprenticeship to the trade and knew what failure meant, for while in
command of the _Tubal Cain_ he had been captured on his very first trip,
and, after tasting for a short time the hospitality of an American
prison, had been released—richer by the experience, but in no wise
daunted.

The chief engineer, Erskine, too, had seen service, having worked as
second engineer on board the Confederate cruiser _Oreto_, when the
famous Captain Maffitt ran her into Savannah. As the engines of a
blockade-runner are her arm, her success must necessarily in great
measure depend on the qualities of her engineer, and it would have been
hard to find a better man for the task than Erskine. Cool in danger,
full of resource in sudden difficulty, and as steady as the tide, he was
yet capable of fearlessly risking everything and straining to the last
pound, when the word came, in one of those rousing forms of expression
with which old Steele was wont to notify down the engine-room tube, that
the critical moment had come.

For pilot a Wilmington man had been sent out by our agents there, and
was waiting for me at Nassau. He too turned out a jewel. He knew his
port like his own face, and the most trying situations or heaviest
firing could never put him off or disturb his serene self-possession.
For all his duties he had an instinct that approached genius. On the
blackest night he could always make out a blockader several minutes
before any one else; and so acute at last did this sense become, that it
used to be a byword that Tom Burroughs at last got to smell a cruiser
long before he could see her.

Through the ignorance or cowardice of the pilot vessels were frequently
lost, and to obtain a good pilot was as troublesome as it was essential.
The risk they ran was great, for if captured they were never exchanged;
but their pay, which frequently amounted to £700 or £800 a round trip,
was proportionate to the risk.

Thus well equipped and laden with arms, gunpowder, boots, and all kinds
of contraband of war, as soon as the moon was right, the _Banshee_ stole
out of Nassau for the first time to make the best of her way to
Wilmington.



                               CHAPTER IV

                      THE _BANSHEE'S_ FIRST RUN IN

    The approach to Wilmington—Fort Fisher—Tactics of the
        blockading squadron—Reason of the _Banshee's_
        success—The look-out man—The dangers of blockade-running—The
        favourite course into Wilmington—All lights out—An anxious
        moment—Taking soundings—In the midst of the enemy—A false
        reckoning—The big hill—Attacked by gun-boats—Fort Fisher wide
        awake—Safely over the bar—The days of champagne cocktails.


Wilmington was the first port I attempted; in fact with the exception of
one run to Galveston it was always our destination. It had many
advantages. Though furthest from Nassau it was nearest to headquarters
at Richmond, and from its situation was very difficult to watch
effectively. It was here moreover, that my firm had established its
agency as soon as they had resolved to takeup the blockade-running
business. The town itself lies some sixteen miles up the Cape Fear
river, which falls into the ocean at a point where the coast forms the
sharp salient angle from which the river takes its name. Off its mouth
lies a delta, known as Smith's Island, which not only emphasises the
obnoxious formation of the coast, but also divides the approach to the
port into two widely separated channels, so that in order to guard the
approach to it a blockading-force is compelled to divide into two
squadrons.

[Illustration: PLAN OF WILMINGTON HARBOUR.]

At one entrance of the river lies Fort Fisher, a work so powerful that
the blockaders instead of lying in the estuary were obliged to form
roughly a semicircle out of range of its guns, and the falling away of
the coast on either side of the entrance further increased the extent of
ground they had to cover. The system they adopted in order to meet the
difficulty was extremely well conceived, and, did we not know to the
contrary, it would have appeared complete enough to ensure the capture
of every vessel so foolhardy as to attempt to enter or come out.

Across either entrance an inshore squadron was stationed at close
intervals. In the daytime the steamers composing this squadron anchored,
but at night they got under weigh and patrolled in touch with the
flagship, which, as a rule, remained at anchor. Further out there was a
cordon of cruisers, and outside these again detached gun-boats keeping
at such a distance from the coast as they calculated a runner coming out
would traverse between the time of high water on Wilmington bar and
sunrise, so that if any blockade-runner coming out got through the two
inner lines in the dark she had every chance of being snapped up at
daybreak by one of the third division.

Besides these special precautions for Wilmington there must not be
forgotten the ships engaged in the general service of the blockade,
consisting, in addition to those detailed to watch Nassau and other
bases, of free cruisers that patrolled the Gulf-stream. From this it
will be seen readily, that from the moment the _Banshee_ left Nassau
harbour till she had passed the protecting forts at the mouth of Cape
Fear river, she and those on board her could never be safe from danger
or free for a single hour from anxiety. But, although at this time the
system was already fairly well developed, the Northerners had not yet
enough ships at work to make it as effective as it afterwards became.

The _Banshee's_ engines proved so unsatisfactory that under ordinary
conditions nine or ten knots was all we could get out of her; she was
therefore not permitted to run any avoidable risks, and to this I
attribute her extraordinary success where better boats failed. As long
as daylight lasted a man was never out of the cross-trees, and the
moment a sail was seen the _Banshee's_ stern was turned to it till it
was dropped below the horizon. The lookout man, to quicken his eyes, had
a dollar for every sail he sighted, and if it were seen from the deck
first he was fined five. This may appear excessive, but the importance
in blockade-running of seeing before you are seen is too great for any
chance to be neglected; and it must be remembered that the pay of
ordinary seamen for each round trip in and out was from £50 to £60.

Following these tactics we crept noiselessly along the shores of the
Bahamas, invisible in the darkness, and ran on unmolested for the first
two days out, though our course was often interfered with by the
necessity of avoiding hostile vessels; then came the anxious moment on
the third, when, her position having been taken at noon to see if she
was near enough to run under the guns of Fort Fisher before the
following daybreak, it was found there was just time, but none to spare
for accidents or delay. Still the danger of lying out another day so
close to the blockaded port was very great, and rather than risk it we
resolved to keep straight on our course and chance being overtaken by
daylight before we were under the Fort.

Now the real excitement began, and nothing I have ever experienced can
compare with it. Hunting, pig-sticking, steeple-chasing, big-game
shooting, polo—I have done a little of each—all have their thrilling
moments, but none can approach "running a blockade"; and perhaps my
readers can sympathise with my enthusiasm when they consider the dangers
to be encountered, after three days of constant anxiety and little
sleep, in threading our way through a swarm of blockaders, and the
accuracy required to hit in the nick of time the mouth of a river only
half a mile wide, without lights and with a coast-line so low and
featureless that as a rule the first intimation we had of its nearness
was the dim white line of the surf.

There were of course many different plans of getting in, but at this
time the favourite dodge was to run up some fifteen or twenty miles to
the north of Cape Fear, so as to round the northernmost of the
blockaders, instead of dashing right through the inner squadron; then to
creep down close to the surf till the river was reached: and this was
the course the _Banshee_ intended to adopt.

We steamed cautiously on until nightfall: the night proved dark, but
dangerously clear and calm. No lights were allowed—not even a cigar; the
engine-room hatchways were covered with tarpaulins, at the risk of
suffocating the unfortunate engineers and stokers in the almost
insufferable atmosphere below. But it was absolutely imperative that not
a glimmer of light should appear. Even the binnacle was covered, and the
steersman had to see as much of the compass as he could through a
conical aperture carried almost up to his eyes.

With everything thus in readiness we steamed on in silence except for
the stroke of the engines and the beat of the paddle-floats, which in
the calm of the night seemed distressingly loud; all hands were on deck,
crouching behind the bulwarks; and we on the bridge, namely, the
captain, the pilot, and I, were straining our eyes into the darkness.
Presently Burroughs made an uneasy movement—"Better get a cast of the
lead, Captain," I heard him whisper. A muttered order down the
engine-room tube was Steele's reply, and the _Banshee_ slowed and then
stopped. It was an anxious moment, while a dim figure stole into the
fore-chains; for there is always a danger of steam blowing off when
engines are unexpectedly stopped, and that would have been enough to
betray our presence for miles around. In a minute or two came back the
report, "sixteen fathoms—sandy bottom with black specks." "We are not as
far in as I thought, Captain," said Burroughs, "and we are too far to
the southward. Port two points and go a little faster." As he explained,
we must be well to the northward of the speckled bottom before it was
safe to head for the shore, and away we went again. In about an hour
Burroughs quietly asked for another sounding. Again she was gently
stopped, and this time he was satisfied. "Starboard and go ahead easy,"
was the order now, and as we crept in not a sound was heard but that of
the regular beat of the paddle-floats still dangerously loud in spite of
our snail's pace. Suddenly Burroughs gripped my arm,—

"There's one of them, Mr. Taylor," he whispered, "on the starboard bow."

In vain I strained my eyes to where he pointed, not a thing could I see;
but presently I heard Steele say beneath his breath, "All right,
Burroughs, I see her. Starboard a little, steady!" was the order passed
aft.

A moment afterwards I could make out a long low black object on our
starboard side, lying perfectly still. Would she see us? that was the
question; but no, though we passed within a hundred yards of her we were
not discovered, and I breathed again. Not very long after we had dropped
her Burroughs whispered,—

"Steamer on the port bow."

And another cruiser was made out close to us.

"Hard-a-port," said Steele, and round she swung, bringing our friend
upon our beam. Still unobserved we crept quietly on, when all at once a
third cruiser shaped herself out of the gloom right ahead and steaming
slowly across our bows.

"Stop her," said Steele in a moment, and as we lay like dead our enemy
went on and disappeared in the darkness. It was clear there was a false
reckoning somewhere, and that instead of rounding the head of the
blockading line we were passing through the very centre of it. However,
Burroughs was now of opinion that we must be inside the squadron and
advocated making the land. So "slow ahead" we went again, until the
low-lying coast and the surf line became dimly visible. Still we could
not tell where we were, and, as time was getting on alarmingly near
dawn, the only thing to do was to creep down along the surf as close in
and as fast as we dared. It was a great relief when we suddenly heard
Burroughs say, "It's all right, I see the 'Big Hill'!"

The "Big Hill" was a hillock about as high as a full-grown oak tree, but
it was the most prominent feature for miles on that dreary coast, and
served to tell us exactly how far we were from Fort Fisher. And
fortunate it was for us we were so near. Daylight was already breaking,
and before we were opposite the fort we could make out six or seven
gunboats, which steamed rapidly towards us and angrily opened fire.
Their shots were soon dropping close around us: an unpleasant sensation
when you know you have several tons of gunpowder under your feet. To
make matters worse, the North Breaker shoal now compelled us to haul off
the shore and steam further out. It began to look ugly for us, when all
at once there was a flash from the shore followed by a sound that came
like music to our ears—that of a shell whirring over our heads. It was
Fort Fisher, wide awake and warning the gunboats to keep their distance.
With a parting broadside they steamed sulkily out of range, and in half
an hour we were safely over the bar. A boat put off from the fort and
then,—well, it was the days of champagne cocktails, not whiskies and
sodas—and one did not run a blockade every day. For my part, I was
mightily proud of my first attempt and my baptism of fire.
Blockade-running seemed the pleasantest and most exhilarating of
pastimes. I did not know then what a very serious business it could be.



                               CHAPTER V

                       FORT FISHER AND WILMINGTON

  Colonel William Lamb—A battery of Whitworth guns—Mrs. Lamb—A
      lovely Puritan maiden—An historical cottage—British naval
      officers—The Santa Claus of the war—Admiral Porter's fleet—Visit
      of General Curtis and Colonel Lamb to Fort Fisher—Identifying
      historic spots—Strict quarantine—Cheerful slaves—Open house on
      board the _Banshee_—Reckless loading—An impudent plan—The
      _Minnesota_—A simple manœuvre—A triumphant success.


It was now that I made the acquaintance—soon to ripen into a warm
friendship—of Colonel William Lamb, the Commandant of Fort Fisher,—a man
of whose courtesy, courage, and capacity all the English who knew him
spoke in the highest terms. Originally a Virginian lawyer and afterwards
the editor of a newspaper, he volunteered at the outbreak of the war,
and rising rapidly to the grade of colonel was given the command of Fort
Fisher, a post which he filled with high distinction till its fall in
1865. With the blockade-runners he was immensely popular; always on the
alert and ever ready to reach a helping hand, he seemed to think no
exertion too great to assist their operations, and many a smart vessel
did his skill and activity snatch from the very jaws of the blockaders.
He came to be regarded by the runners as their guardian angel; and it
was no small support in the last trying moments of a run to remember who
was in Fort Fisher.

So much did we value his services and so grateful were we for them, that
at my suggestion my firm subsequently presented him with a battery of
six Whitworth guns, of which he was very proud; and good use he made of
them in keeping the blockaders at a respectful distance. They were guns
with a great range, which many a cruiser found to its cost when
venturing too close in chase down the coast. Lamb would gallop them down
behind the sandhills, by aid of mules, and open fire upon the enemy
before he was aware of his danger. Neither must I forget his charming
wife (alas, now numbered among the majority); her hospitality and
kindness were unbounded, and many a pleasant social evening have I and
my brother blockade-runners spent in her little cottage outside the
fort.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF COLONEL LAMB. _To face page 56._]

The following extract from _Southern Historical Papers_, written by
Colonel Lamb a few years ago, will doubtless interest my readers; also
the account, copied from the _Wilmington Messenger_, of a meeting which
took place lately between him and General Curtis at Fort Fisher.


      In the fall of 1857 a lovely Puritan maiden, still in her
      teens, was married in Grace Church, Providence, Rhode
      Island, to a Virginia youth, just passed his majority, who
      brought her to his home in Norfolk, a typical ancestral
      homestead, where beside the "white folks" there was quite
      a colony of family servants, from the pickaninny just able to
      crawl to the old gray-headed mammy who had nursed "ole
      massa." She soon became enamoured of her surroundings
      and charmed with the devotion of her coloured maid, whose
      sole duty it was to wait upon her young missis. When
      the John Brown raid burst upon the South and her husband
      was ordered to Harper's Ferry, there was not a more
      indignant matron in all Virginia, and when at last secession
      came, the South did not contain a more enthusiastic little
      rebel.

      On the 15th of May 1862, a few days after the surrender
      of Norfolk to the Federals, by her father-in-law,
      then mayor, amid the excitement attending a captured city,
      her son Willie was born. Cut off from her husband and
      subjected to the privations and annoyances incident to a
      subjugated community, her father insisted upon her coming
      with her children to his home in Providence; but, notwithstanding
      she was in a luxurious home, with all that paternal
      love could do for her, she preferred to leave all these
      comforts to share with her husband the dangers and
      privations of the South. She vainly tried to persuade
      Stanton, Secretary of War, to let her and her three children,
      with a nurse, return to the South; finally he consented to
      let her go by flag of truce from Washington to City Point,
      but without a nurse, and as she was unable to manage
      three little ones, she left the youngest with his grandparents,
      and with two others bravely set out for Dixie. The generous
      outfit of every description which was prepared for the
      journey, and which was carried to the place of embarkation,
      was ruthlessly cast aside by the inspectors on the wharf,
      and no tears or entreaties or offers of reward by the parents
      availed to pass anything save a scanty supply of clothing
      and other necessaries. Arriving in the South, the brave
      young mother refused the proffer of a beautiful home in
      Wilmington, the occupancy of the grand old mansion at
      "Orton," on the Cape Fear river, but insisted upon taking
      up her abode with her children and their coloured nurse in
      the upper room of a pilot's house, where they lived until
      the soldiers of the garrison built her a cottage one mile
      north of Fort Fisher, on the Atlantic beach. In both of
      these homes she was occasionally exposed to the shot and
      shell fired from blockaders at belated blockade-runners.

      It was a quaint abode, constructed in most primitive
      style, with three rooms around one big chimney, in which
      North Carolina pine knots supplied heat and light on
      winter nights. This cottage became historic, and was
      famed for the frugal but tempting meals which its charming
      hostess would prepare for her distinguished guests. Besides
      the many illustrious Confederate Army and Navy officers
      who were delighted to find this bit of sunshiny civilisation
      on the wild sandy beach, ensconced among the sand dunes
      and straggling pines and black-jack, many celebrated
      English naval officers enjoyed its hospitality under assumed
      names:—Roberts, afterwards the renowned Hobart Pasha,
      who commanded the Turkish navy; Murray, now Admiral
      Murray-Aynsley, long since retired, after having been rapidly
      promoted for gallantry and meritorious services in the British
      navy; the brave but unfortunate Hugh Burgoyne, V.C., who
      went down in the British iron-clad, _Captain_, in the Bay of
      Biscay; and the chivalrous Hewett, who won the Victoria
      Cross in the Crimea and was knighted for his services as
      ambassador to King John of Abyssinia, and who, after
      commanding the Queen's yacht, died lamented as Admiral
      Hewett. Besides these there were many genial and gallant
      merchant captains, among them Halpin, who afterwards commanded
      the _Great Eastern_ while laying ocean cables; and
      famous war correspondents—Hon. Francis C. Lawley, M.P.,
      correspondent of the _London Times_, and Frank Vizitelli of
      the _London Illustrated News_, afterwards murdered in the
      Soudan. Nor must the plucky Tom Taylor be forgotten,
      supercargo of the _Banshee_ and the _Night Hawk_, who, by
      his coolness and daring, escaped with a boat's crew from
      the hands of the Federals after capture off the fort, and
      who was endeared to the children as the "Santa Claus" of
      the war.

      At first the little Confederate was satisfied with pork and
      potatoes, corn-bread and rye coffee, with sorghum sweetening;
      but after the blockade-runners made her acquaintance
      the impoverished store-room was soon filled to overflowing,
      notwithstanding her heavy requisitions on it for the post
      hospital, the sick and wounded soldiers and sailors always
      being a subject of her tenderest solicitude, and often the
      hard worked and poorly fed coloured hands blessed the
      little lady of the cottage for a tempting treat.

      Full of stirring events were the two years passed in the
      cottage on Confederate Point. The drowning of Mrs. Rose
      Greenough, the famous Confederate spy, off Fort Fisher,
      and the finding of her body, which was tenderly cared for,
      and the rescue from the waves, half dead, of Professor
      Holcombe, and his restoration, were incidents never to be
      forgotten. Her fox-hunting with horse and hounds, the narrow
      escapes of friendly vessels, the fights over blockade-runners
      driven ashore, the execution of deserters, and the
      loss of an infant son, whose little spirit went out with the
      tide one sad summer night, all contributed to the reality of
      this romantic life.

      When Porter's fleet appeared off Fort Fisher, December
      1864, it was storm-bound for several days, and the little
      family with their household goods were sent across the
      river to "Orton," before Butler's powder-ship blew up.
      After the Christmas victory over Porter and Butler, the
      little heroine insisted upon coming back to her cottage,
      although her husband had procured a home of refuge in
      Cumberland county. General Whiting protested against
      her running the risk, for on dark nights her husband could
      not leave the fort, but she said, "if the firing became too
      hot she would run behind the sand hills as she had done
      before," and come she would.

      The fleet reappeared unexpectedly on the night of the
      12th of January 1865. It was a dark night, and when
      the lights of the fleet were reported her husband sent a
      courier to the cottage to instruct her to pack up quickly
      and be prepared to leave with children and nurse as soon
      as he could come to bid them good-bye. The garrison
      barge, with a trusted crew, was stationed at Craig's Landing,
      near the cottage. After midnight, when all necessary
      orders were given for the coming attack, the colonel
      mounted his horse and rode to the cottage, but all was
      dark and silent. He found the message had been delivered,
      but his brave wife had been so undisturbed by the news,
      that she had fallen asleep and no preparations for a retreat
      had been made. Precious hours had been lost, and as
      the fleet would soon be shelling the beach and her husband
      have to return to the fort, he hurried them into the boat as
      soon as dressed, with only what could be gathered up
      hastily, leaving dresses, toys, and household articles to fall
      into the hands of the foe.


      The extraordinary circumstance occurred yesterday of
      a visit to Fort Fisher by General N. M. Curtis and Colonel
      William Lamb, who were pitted against each other in deadly
      strife at that historic spot on the occurrence of both the
      battles there during the civil war—the one commencing
      24th December 1864 and the other 13th January 1865.

      Colonel Lamb was in Washington a few days ago, and
      made an engagement with General Curtis to visit the old
      fort. They consequently met in Norfolk last Thursday
      morning and came on to Wilmington, arriving here that
      night. Yesterday morning they took the steamer _Wilmington_
      at 9.30 o'clock and, accompanied by T. W. Clawson of the
      _Messenger_, the three were landed at the Rocks and were
      sent ashore in one of the _Wilmington's_ small boats, the
      gangway and wharf having been swept away during the gale
      of 13th October.

      From the Rocks the party walked to Fort Fisher, and
      together the old heroes went from one end of the fort to
      the other, identifying Colonel Lamb's headquarters and
      locating the position of the batteries, the magazines, the
      salients, the sally-port, and other historic spots.

      General Curtis explained the route of his advance upon
      the fort at the last battle, when the fort was captured, and
      pointed out the portion of the parapet which he assaulted
      and scaled, and where the first flag of the invading army
      was planted on the ramparts. The batteries at which the
      first fierce hand-to-hand fights occurred were discussed as
      the party walked over them, and General Curtis pointed out
      about the spot inside the works where he fell, desperately and
      almost fatally wounded by a piece of shell that struck him
      over the left eye, and carried away a large piece of the frontal
      bone and destroyed the eye. He was believed to be killed,
      and when some of his soldiers were ordered to take him to the
      rear, so that his body could be shipped North, they dragged
      his body over the rough ground for some distance, so that
      his clothing was torn and his back was bleeding from cuts
      made by such rough treatment. Orders had been given for
      a box in which to ship his body to his home in New York.

      Colonel Lamb, the hero on the Confederate side, who
      was in command of the fort at both battles, explained the
      positions held by the brave defenders of the fort, and also
      pointed out about the spot where he was shot down, a
      Minie ball having broken his hip, and also where General
      Whiting received his death wound. Strange to say, all
      three were wounded within a few yards of each other.
      Colonel Lamb's wound came within an ace of proving fatal,
      and, as it was, he was on crutches for several years.

      The old fort is now a heap of ruins, consisting of
      mounds of sand, where the batteries were stationed. In
      front of the land face from which the assault was made
      by the United States' troops under General Curtis, and
      right on the position held by his regiment, the recent storm
      has unearthed a great many bones of the brave fellows
      who fell in the battle. It is not known whether they wore
      the blue or the gray, but it is quite probable that they were
      some of General Curtis's troops.

      From the fort the party proceeded up the beach for a
      mile and a half, and visited the cottage which Colonel Lamb
      occupied with his family and made his general headquarters.
      It is now occupied by a fisherman. From Craig's Landing
      near by the party took a sail boat and were carried back to
      the Rocks by the Craig brothers. When the boat was run
      ashore it grounded in shallow water about fifteen feet from
      dry land, and the only alternative left was to strip shoes
      and foot-wear, and roll up pants and wade out. General
      Curtis, who is a man of powerful frame and sound health,
      soon stepped over the boat's side and into the water,
      and as Colonel Lamb's health made him cautious about
      going into the water, General Curtis offered to carry him
      on his back to dry land. The _Messenger_ representative
      being a duffer of good frame and strength, and being the
      younger by half, interposed in relief of General Curtis, and
      so Colonel Lamb rode the scribe to the shore. The newspaper
      man then wanted to kick himself for not allowing
      Colonel Lamb to ride his "friend the enemy," for he could
      have witnessed the remarkable instance of a brave and
      distinguished Federal officer carrying on his back the
      illustrious Confederate who, in years that are gone, was
      raising old Harry with shot and shell to keep the General
      at a safe distance. These two men were heroes of the
      right stripe, and we can raise our hats in honour and
      admiration of them for the rich heritage which their
      manhood and bravery leaves to Americans.

      After accepting the hospitality of Mr. Henry Wood, a
      fisherman at the Rocks, who had prepared some coffee and
      oysters for the party, the _Wilmington_ came in sight at
      3 o'clock, and she was boarded for the return to Wilmington.
      On the trip down Colonel Lamb had bought a lot of fine
      fat coots to be cooked for lunch at the Rocks, but he
      forgot these, and they were left on the steamer. Imagine
      the happiness of the party when they got aboard to find
      that the courteous Captain John Harper had had the birds
      cooked and sent them in with some delightful bread.

      General Curtis and Colonel Lamb, after returning to the
      city, were hospitably entertained at the Cape Fear Club.

      General Curtis was a Colonel at the assault on Fort
      Fisher, but he won his General's epaulettes there. By the
      way, he was wounded in six places on the day the fort
      was captured. He served four years and eight months in
      the Federal army, having volunteered in April 1861.

                                       _Wilmington_ (N. C.) _Messenger_.

After this digression I must return to our movements on board the
_Banshee_. Having obtained pratique (for the quarantine was very strict)
and a local pilot, rendered necessary by the river being unbuoyed and
strewn with torpedoes, we ran up at once to Wilmington. Here I found our
agent Tom Power, who had an outward cargo ready for me, and the cheerful
heartiness with which the slaves set about discharging our inward one
was a pleasant surprise; if I hadn't been told they _were_ slaves I
should never have discovered it. Everything had to be done at high
pressure, for it was important to get out as quickly as possible, so as
to try another run while the dark nights lasted, and loading went
merrily on. I therefore did my best to win the goodwill of the
officials, on whose favour I was of course in a great measure dependent
for a rapid turn round.

Wilmington was already sadly pinched and war-worn. There never was too
much to eat and drink there, and the commonest luxuries were almost
things of the past; so when it became known that there was practically
open house on board the _Banshee_ friends flocked to her. She soon
attained great popularity, and it was really a sight when our luncheon
bell rang to see guests, invited and uninvited, turn up from all
quarters. We made them all welcome, and when our little cabin was filled
we generally had an overflow meeting on deck.

What a pleasure it was to see them eat and drink! Men who had been
accustomed to live on corn-bread and bacon, and to drink nothing but
water, appreciated our delicacies; our bottled beer, good brandy, and,
on great occasions, our champagne, warmed their hearts towards us. The
chief steward used to look at me appealingly, as a hint that our stores
would never last out; in fact we were often on very short commons before
we got back to Nassau. But we had our reward. If any special favour were
asked it was always granted, if possible, to the _Banshee_, and if any
push had to be made there was always some one to make it.

Whether due to the luncheon parties or not need not be said, but we were
within a very few days able to cast off our moorings and drop down the
river ballasted with tobacco and laden with cotton—three tiers even on
deck. Such things are almost incredible nowadays. The reckless loading,
to which high profits and the perquisites allowed to officers led, is to
a landsman inconceivable. That men should be found willing to put to sea
at all in these frail craft piled like hay waggons is extraordinary
enough, but that they should do so in the face of a vigilant and active
blockading force, and do it successfully, seems rather an invention of
romance than a commonplace occurrence of our own time. True, running out
was a much easier matter than running in, for the risks inseparable from
making a port, so difficult to find as Wilmington, without lights, and
with constant change of courses, were absent, and as soon as the bar was
crossed navigation at least gave no anxiety.

Steele and I had hit on a plan for getting out that promised almost a
certainty of success. Its security lay in its impudence, a cardinal
virtue of blockade-running, which, as will be seen later on in some of
the more critical scenes, approached the sublime. The idea was perhaps
obvious enough. As has been said, the flagship during the night remained
at anchor, while the other ships moved slowly to and fro upon the inner
line, leaving, as was natural enough, a small area round the Admiral's
ship unpatrolled. This was enough for us. Bringing up the _Banshee_
behind Fort Fisher, where she could lie hidden from the blockaders till
nightfall, we rowed ashore to get from Colonel Lamb the last news of the
squadron's movements and to ascertain which ship bore the Admiral's
flag. She proved to be the _Minnesota_, a large sixty-gun frigate: her
bearings were accurately taken, and as soon as night fell the _Banshee_
stole quietly from her concealment, slipped over the bar, dark as it
was, and by the aid of Steele's observations ran in perfect security
close by the flagship and out to sea well clear of the first cordon.

In trying to pass the second, however, we were less successful, for we
ran right across a gunboat; she saw us and at once opened fire; but slow
as the _Banshee_ was, luckily the Northern gunboats for the most part
were slower still, so we had no difficulty in increasing the distance
between us till it was felt we were out of sight again. Our helm was
then put hard over, giving us a course at right angles to the one we had
been steaming, and after keeping it a few minutes we stopped. It was a
manœuvre nearly always successful, provided the helm was not put over
too soon, and this time it achieved the usual result. As we lay
perfectly still, watching the course of the gunboat by the flashes of
her guns and by the rockets she was sending up to attract her consorts,
we had the satisfaction of seeing her labouring furiously past us and
firing wildly into black space.

There still remained the danger at daybreak of the third cordon, and
with anxious eyes the horizon was scoured as the darkness began to fail.
A daylight chase with the _Banshee_ in her present condition could not
be thought of, but fortunately not a sign of a cruiser was to be seen.
All that day, and the next and the next, we steamed onward with our
hearts in our mouths, turning our stern to every sail or patch of smoke
that was seen, till, on the evening of the third day, we steamed into
Nassau as proudly as a heavy list to starboard would allow.

So ended my first attempt, a triumphant success! Besides the inward
freight of £50 a ton on the war material, I had earned by the tobacco
ballast alone £7000, the freight for which had been paid at the rate of
£70 a ton. But this was a flea-bite compared to the profit on the 500
odd bales of cotton we had on board, which was at least £50 per bale.

No wonder I took kindly to my new calling, and no wonder I at once set
to work to get the _Banshee_ reloaded for another run before the
moonless nights were over.



                               CHAPTER VI

               THE REST OF THE _BANSHEE_ NO. 1.'s CAREER

  Breakdown of the _Banshee's_ machinery—Heavily peppered
      by gunboats—The help of signal lights—A change of tactics—An
      awkward alternative—Hailed by a cruiser—A slanging match—Grape
      and canister—The _Banshee_ on fire—Shipping a fresh cargo—A
      careless look-out man—Pursued by the _James Adger_—A
      ding-dong race—Cargo thrown overboard—A stowaway comes to
      light—A crucial moment—The _James Adger_ relinquishes
      her pursuit—Our last coal used—Secure in British
      territory—Negotiations for coal—A demoralised crew—Safe in
      Nassau—End of the _Banshee's_ career—Profit of blockade-running.


To give in detail every trip of the _Banshee_ would be wearisome. I made
in her seven more in all, each one of which had its peculiar excitement.
Looking back it seems nothing short of a miracle that, ill-constructed
and ill-engined as she was, she so long escaped the numerous dangers to
which she was exposed. I well remember, on our second run in, an
accident which no one could have foreseen, and which came within an ace
of ending her career.

After a busy time discharging our cargo and getting coaled and loaded in
order to save a trip before the moon grew too much, we made another
start, and after a rough passage reached within striking distance of our
port. It was a very dark but calm night; we had made out several
blockaders and safely eluded them, when suddenly a tearing and rending
of wood was heard, and splinters from our port paddle-box fell in all
directions. The engines were stopped at once; it was then discovered
that one of the paddle-floats, which were made of steel, had split,
causing the broken part to come violently in contact with the paddle-box
at each revolution. There was nothing for it but to stop and attempt to
unscrew the damaged float; a sail was placed round the paddle-box and
two of the engineers were lowered down and commenced work: not many
minutes elapsed before a cruiser hove in sight, and we made certain we
had been discovered. Although she came on until she was not more than a
hundred yards away on our beam, curious to state she never saw us, but,
after lying motionless, much to our relief she steamed away, and oh! how
pleasant it was to hear that float drop into the water.

We felt our way towards the bar, and although we were heavily peppered
by two gunboats which were lying close in, we escaped untouched and soon
had our signal lights set for going over the bar. These signal lights
were of course a great assistance, but latterly the Northerners used to
place launches close in, and when those in charge saw the lights
exhibited they signalled to the blockaders, who immediately commenced
shelling the bar, rendering it very unpleasant for us; so much so that
we generally preferred to find our way over it without lights, as the
lesser risk of the two. It was the custom for each steamer to carry a
Confederate signalman, who by means of a code could communicate with the
shore, in the daytime with flags, at night by flashes from lamps. If the
leading lights were required, the pilots in the fort set two lights
which, when in line, led us through deep water over the bar.

This was an average run in, but more exciting ones were to follow. In
the earlier stages of blockade-running, such as those I have mentioned,
we used to go well to the northward and make the coast some fifteen or
twenty miles above Fort Fisher, thus going round the fleet instead of
through it. By this means we were the better enabled to strike the coast
unobserved, steaming quietly down, just outside the surf, until we
arrived close to Fort Fisher, where we had to go somewhat to seaward, in
order to avoid a certain shoal called the North Breaker. Although this
generally brought us into close contact with the blockaders, still we
knew exactly where we were as regards the bar. Subsequently the
Northerners stopped this manœuvre, as we found to our peril.

One very dark night (I think it was either on the fourth or fifth trip
of the _Banshee_) we made the land about twelve miles above Fort Fisher,
and were creeping quietly down as usual, when all at once we made a
cruiser out, lying on our port-bow, and slowly moving about two hundred
yards from the shore. It was a question of going inside or outside her;
if we went outside she was certain to see us, and would chase us into
the very jaws of the fleet. As we had very little steam up we chose the
former alternative, hoping to pass unobserved between the cruiser and
the shore, aided by the dark background of the latter. It was an
exciting moment; we got almost abreast of her, as we thought,
unobserved, and success seemed within our grasp, till we saw her move in
towards us and heard her hail us as we came on, "Stop that steamer or I
will sink you"!

Old Steele growled out that we hadn't time to stop, and shouted down the
engine-room tube to Erskine to pile on the coals, as concealment was no
longer of any use. Our friend, which we afterwards found out was the
_Niphon_, opened fire as fast as she could and sheered close into us, so
close that her boarders were called away twice, and a slanging match
went on between us, like that sometimes to be heard between two penny
steamboat captains on the Thames. She closed the dispute by shooting
away our fore mast, exploding a shell in our bunkers, and, when we began
to leave her astern, by treating us to grape and canister. It was a
miracle that no one was killed, but the crew were all lying flat on the
deck, except the steersman; and at one time I fear he did the same, for
as Pilot Burroughs suddenly cried, "My God, Mr. Taylor, look there"! I
saw our boat heading right into the surf, so, jumping from the bridge, I
ran aft and found the helmsman on his stomach. I rushed at the wheel and
got two or three spokes out of it, which hauled her head off the land,
but it was a close shave.

Two miles farther on we picked up another cruiser, which tried to treat
us in a similar manner, but as we had plenty of steam we soon left her.
A little farther we came across a large side-wheel boat, which tried to
run us down, missing us only by a few yards; after that we were
unmolested and arrived in safe, warmly congratulated by Lamb, who
thought from the violent cannonade that we must certainly have been
sunk.

Not more than one man out of a hundred would have brought a boat through
as Steele did that night,—the other ninety-nine would have run her
ashore.

After this exciting run-in our first business was to repair damages and
ship our cargo on board; but at the last moment, when she was completely
loaded, with steam up and all ready for a start, we nearly lost the
_Banshee_ by fire. Steele and I were busy settling things in the office
on shore, when all at once, on looking out of the window, I saw volumes
of smoke coming from her deck cargo of cotton; we jumped into a boat,
but by the time we got alongside she was one sheet of flame. It looked
like a hopeless case. Steele, however, gave immediate orders to get the
steam hose at work, breast her off from the wharf, and to let go anchor
in mid stream; thus bringing her head to tide, but stern to wind. The
fire, being all forward, made it difficult to reach the forecastle so as
to let go the anchor; but our good friend Halpin (who then commanded a
blockade-runner called the _Eugénie_) gallantly came to our assistance,
at the risk of his life boarded us forward, and knocked out the cutter
which held the chain cable, but not before his clothes were on fire: it
was a sight to see him take a header into the river, causing the water
to hiss again. He undoubtedly saved our ship that day. Poor Halpin—I
have lately read of his death—he was as fine and generous-hearted a man
as ever lived, and was afterwards as successful at cable-laying as
blockade-running.

By dint of hard work we got the fire under, and a tough job it was
fighting with ignited turpentine, of which we had several barrels on
deck, and blazing cotton. We found that, with the exception of having
our turtle back destroyed and our deck, bulwarks, and new foremast
charred, she had not received much serious damage, and after shipping a
fresh deck cargo we went to sea next night and crossed to Nassau, where
they were astonished to see the plight we were in, thinking we had had a
fire at sea.

It was, I think, on our sixth trip out in the little _Banshee_, when
soon after daylight we had got safely through the fleet, and I was lying
on a cotton bale aft, that Erskine, the chief engineer, suddenly
exclaimed, "Mr. Taylor, look astern!" I looked, and not four miles from
us I saw a large side-wheel cruiser, with square sails set, coming down
on us hand over fist. This was an instance of gross carelessness on the
part of the look-out man at the masthead (he turned out to be an
American whom we had shipped in Nassau, on the previous trip, and about
whom both Steele and I had our private suspicions). At such a critical
moment as the approach of daylight the chief officer should have chosen
a picked man for the look-out. After this we were more careful: either
the chief officer or I myself, when on board, making it a point to
occupy this post at that particular hour.

Erskine rushed to the engine-room, and in a few moments volumes of smoke
issuing from our funnels showed that we were getting up all the steam we
could—almost too late, as with the freshening breeze the chaser (which
we afterwards found out to be the well-known _James Adger_, a boat
subsequently sent to cruise in search of the _Alabama_) so rapidly
overhauled us that we could distinctly see the officers in uniform as
they stood on the bridge; each one, doubtless, counting his share of the
prize money to which he would soon become entitled.

[Illustration: THE _BANSHEE_ CHASED BY _JAMES ADGER_. _To face page 78_]

"This will never do," said Steele, who, although it put us off our
course to Nassau, ordered the helm to be altered, so as to bring us up
to the wind. We then soon had the satisfaction of seeing our enemy
obliged to take in sail after sail, and a ding-dong race of the most
exciting nature right in the wind's eye commenced.

The freshening breeze and rising sea now seemed to increase the odds
against our, the smaller, boat, and so critical did matters become, and
so certain did capture appear, that I divided between Murray-Aynsley—who
was a passenger on this trip,—Steele, and myself sixty sovereigns which
I had on board, determined that when captured we wouldn't be penniless.
As the weather grew worse we found ourselves obliged to throw overboard
our deck cargo in order to lighten the boat. This was done as quickly as
possible, heart-breaking though it was to see valuable bales (worth from
£50 to £60 apiece) bobbing about on the waves. To me more especially did
this come home, for my little private venture of ten bales of Sea Island
cotton had to go first, a dead loss of £800 or more!

A fresh cause of excitement now arose; in clearing out these very bales,
which were in a half finished deck cabin, an unfortunate stowaway came
to light, a runaway slave, who must have been standing wedged between
two bales for at least forty-eight hours, and within three feet of whom
I had unconsciously been sleeping on the cotton bales during the last
two nights before putting to sea. He received a great ovation on our
landing him at Nassau, though his freedom cost us $4000 on our return to
Wilmington, this being what he was valued at. His escape was an unusual
one, for, before leaving port the hold and closed up spaces were always
fumigated to such an extent as to have brought out or suffocated any one
in hiding; but this being an open-deck cabin, the precaution was
impossible.

Having got rid of our deck cargo, we slowly but steadily began to gain
in the race. It was an extraordinary sight to see our gallant little
vessel at times almost submerged by green seas sweeping her fore and
aft, and the _James Adger_, a vessel of 2000 tons, taking headers into
the huge waves, yet neither of us for a moment slackening speed, a
course we should have thought madness under ordinary circumstances.
Murray-Aynsley stood with his sextant, taking angles, and reporting now
one now the other vessel getting the best of it.

Suddenly a fresh danger arose from the bearings of the engines becoming
heated, owing to the enormous strain put upon them. Erskine said it was
absolutely imperative to stop for a short time. But by dint of loosening
the bearings and applying all the salad oil procurable mixed with
gunpowder they were gradually got into working order again, all in the
engine-room having assisted in the most energetic manner at this crucial
moment.

The chase went on for fifteen weary hours—the longest hours I think I
ever spent!—until nightfall, when we saw our friend, then only about
five miles astern, turn round and relinquish her pursuit. We heard
afterwards that her stokers were dead beat. For some time we pursued our
course, thinking this might be only a ruse on their part, and then held
a council of war as to our next move. Steele and Erskine were for making
Bermuda, as we had been chased 150 miles in that direction, and both
feared our coal would not hold out for us to reach Nassau. It was,
however, very necessary that I should go to the latter place, as I was
expecting two new steamers out from England, so we decided to make the
attempt. We only succeeded in reaching land at all by a very close
shave. At the end of the third day we saw our last coal used; mainmast,
bulwarks, deck cabin and every available bit of wood, supplemented by
cotton and turpentine as fuel, only just carried us into one of the
north-east keys of the Bahamas, about sixty miles from Nassau, into
which we absolutely crawled, the engines working almost on a vacuum. We
had not anchored there more than two hours when we saw a Northern
cruiser steam slowly past, evidently eyeing us greedily; but we were
safe in British territory, and even the audacious cruiser dare not take
us as a prize.

The difficulty of procuring the necessary fuel, in order to take us to
Nassau, now presented itself; fortunately we spied out a schooner in the
neighbourhood with whom we communicated, and after some negotiations I
arranged that she should take Murray-Aynsley and myself to our
destination, and bring back a cargo of coal.

We started with a fair wind, but before long this had changed to a
regular hurricane—during which it was impossible to keep on any sail,
and the crew became terrified and helpless, thereby very nearly letting
us drift on to the rocks near Abaco lighthouse. It was an awful night,
the lightning vivid, and the coast line not many yards away. The crew
became more and more demoralised, and when the weather moderated refused
to proceed. This new difficulty was only overcome by Murray-Aynsley and
myself producing our revolvers; then, partly by threats, and partly by
promised bribes, we prevailed on them to think better of their resolve.

Utterly wearied out, having had no sleep to speak of for one week, and
having lived in our sea-boots since we made our first start from
Wilmington (my feet were so swollen that the boots had to be cut off,
and sleeping draughts at first were powerless to restore the lost
faculty), we finally arrived in safety. The schooner was despatched back
with coal, and three days later I had the satisfaction of seeing the
_Banshee_ after these hair-breadth escapes steam safely in, though
looking considerably dilapidated; lucky in having lost only our deck
cargo—which represented a good half, or more, of what she started with.

This chase, which lasted fifteen hours, and covered nearly 200 miles,
was considered one of the most notable incidents connected with
blockade-running during the war, and we heard a good deal about it
afterwards. At the time we had been struck by the fact of the _James
Adger_ not opening fire on us, when so close. The explanation was, that
she had no "bow-chasers," and was so certain of capturing us eventually,
that she did not think it worth while to "yaw" and fire her broadside
guns, and as the weather was so bad she did not care to cast them loose.

This is the last trip I made in the _Banshee_ on which anything of note
occurred. She made eight round trips in all, and I then left her. She
was captured on the ninth, after another long chase off Cape Hatteras,
her captain and crew being taken to Fort Lafayette, where they were
detained for about eight months as prisoners in a casemate, badly fed
and clothed, and of course overcrowded. Steele spent some weeks in
Ludlow Street gaol; when he was released he found, to his delight, that
another boat had been built expressly for him, which was christened
_Banshee_ No. 2.

Some idea of the vast profits accruing from blockade-running at this
time can be gathered from the fact that, notwithstanding the total loss
of the _Banshee_ by capture, she earned sufficient on the eight
successful round trips which she made to pay her shareholders 700 per
cent on their investment.

Her captors turned her into a gunboat; and we heard afterwards that she
had proved anything but a success, being much too tender. Moreover her
engines, as we knew, were very hard to manipulate, so much so that on
one occasion it was found impossible to stop her, and she ran right into
the jetty of the naval yard at Washington.



                              CHAPTER VII

                             LIFE AT NASSAU

    Society at Nassau—Dinners and dancing—The only frock-coat in
        Nassau—Mrs. Bayley's receptions—Arthur Doering—Old friends
        who have gone—Hobart Pasha—Capture of the _Don_—Hugh
        Burgoyne—Captain Hewett—Murray Aynsley—A private Joint Stock
        Company—Increased responsibilities—A day's misfortunes—Career
        of the _Tristram Shandy_—Yellow Jack—Death-rate at
        Wilmington—Saved from quarantine by a horse—A pet game-cock.


As the moon was now approaching full, we had ample time to repair
damages and refit ship before making another start, and we all enjoyed
our brief holiday and freedom from care. Although Nassau was a small
place its gaieties were many and varied. Money flowed like water, men
lived for the day and never thought of the morrow, and in that small
place was accumulated a mixture of mankind seldom seen before.
Confederate military and naval officers; diplomatists using the
blockade-runners as a means of ingress and egress from their beleaguered
country; newspaper correspondents and advertisers of all kinds,—some
rascals no doubt; the very cream of the English navy, composed of
officers on half-pay who had come out lured by the prospects of making
some money and gaining an experience in their profession which a war
such as this could give them; and last but not least our own immediate
circle, which was graced by the presence of two ladies, Mrs.
Murray-Aynsley and Mrs. Hobart, wives of officers who presided at our
revels and tended to keep the younger and more reckless of our set in
order.

What jovial days they were, and how they were appreciated by the
officials and natives, to whom it was a pleasure to extend our
hospitality. Every night our dinner table was filled to its utmost
capacity, and once a week at least we had a dance, when the office
furniture was unceremoniously bundled out into the garden under the care
of a fatigue party of soldiers, and the band of the regiment discoursed
entrancing music to those whose feet never seemed to tire. I suppose
that I was then rather a dandy and the only possessor of a frock-coat
among us, and as I lived just below Government House, this coat, with a
flower in the button-hole, was frequently requisitioned at Mrs. Bayley's
(the Governor's wife) receptions. I have known it do duty half a dozen
times on half a dozen backs within a couple of hours: in the case of
poor Vizitelly, however, it was a little wanting in front.

Not only my coat became public property, but those gay friends parted my
other raiment between them, and I well remember, after I had a new
supply of linen, etc. from home, expostulating with Frankston, my black
major-domo, because I had nothing to wear, and receiving his answer in
reply—"Well, sar, what can do? Mr. Hurst and Mr. Doering take all
master's shirts." To back up his assertion, he showed me Arthur
Doering's weekly wash just arrived, consisting of one sock and one white
tie. Poor Arthur, he is gone,—a light-hearted, cheery, devil-may-care
youngster who spent every penny he made. He was one of my pursers, but
had persistently bad luck; he was captured twice, wrecked once, and
chased back once. When on shore I made him head of the entertaining
department, for which he was well fitted, as no one could mix a better
cocktail or sing a more cheery song than he could.

This was the cheery side of our Nassau life, but it had its reverse one,
consisting of hard work, constant anxieties and worries.

As my memory takes me back to those jovial but hard-working days of
"camaraderie" it is melancholy to think how many of those friends have
gone before: Mrs. Murray-Aynsley, Mrs. Hobart and her husband Hobart
Pasha; Hugh Burgoyne, one of the navy's brightest ornaments, who was
drowned while commanding the ill-fated _Captain_; Hewett, who lately
gave up command of the Channel Fleet only to die; old Steele, the king
of blockade-running captains; Maurice Portman, an ex-diplomatist; Frank
Vizitelly, whose bones lie alongside those of Hicks Pasha's in the
Soudan; Lewis Grant Watson, my brother agent; Arthur Doering, one of my
loyal lieutenants, and a host of old Confederate friends, are all gone,
and I could count on my fingers those remaining of a circle of chums who
did not know what care or fear was, and who would have stood by each
other through thick and thin in any emergency. In fact my old friends
Admiral Murray-Aynsley and Frank Hurst are almost the only two living of
that companionship.

Of Hobart Pasha and of the important part he played in the Turko-Russian
war and Cretan rebellion—in which he acknowledged that his
blockade-running experiences stood him in such good stead—most, if not
all, my readers will have read or heard. He commanded a smart little
twin screw-steamer called the _Don_, in fact one of the first twin
propeller steamers ever built. And very proud he was of his craft, in
which he made several successful runs under the assumed name of Captain
Roberts. On her first trip after "Captain Roberts" gave up command in
order to go home, the _Don_ was captured after a long chase, and his
late chief officer, who was then in charge, was assumed by his captors
to be Roberts. He maintained silence concerning the point, and the
Northern newspapers upon the arrival of the prize at Philadelphia were
full of the subject of the "Capture of the _Don_ and the notorious
English naval officer, Captain Roberts." Much chagrined were they to
find they had got the wrong man, and that the English naval officer was
still at large.

Poor Burgoyne—whose tragic and early end, owing to the capsizing of the
_Captain_, everybody deplored—as a blockade-runner was not very
successful. If I remember correctly he made only two or three trips. Had
he lived he would have had a brilliant career before him in the navy;
bravest of the brave, as is evidenced by the V.C. he wore, gentle as a
woman, unselfish to a fault, he might have saved his life if he had
thought more of himself and less of his men on that terrible occasion
off Finisterre, when his last words were, "Look out for yourselves, men;
never mind me."

Then there was Hewett, another wearer of the "cross for valour," who has
only recently joined the majority, after a brilliant career as Admiral
commanding in the East Indies, Red Sea, and Channel Fleet; who
successfully interviewed King John in Abyssinia, and was not content to
pace the deck of his flagship at Suakim, but insisted upon fighting in
the square at El Teb, and whose hospitality and geniality later on as
Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet was proverbial.

Murray-Aynsley, I rejoice to say, is still alive. Who that knows "old
Murray" does not love him; gentle as a child, brave as a lion, a man
without guile, he was perhaps the most successful of all the naval
blockade-runners. In the _Venus_ he had many hair-breadth escapes,
notably on one occasion when he ran the gauntlet of the Northern Fleet
in daylight into Wilmington. The _Venus_, hotly pursued by several
blockaders and pounded at by others, straight through whom she steamed,
and old Murray on the bridge, with his coat sleeves hitched up almost to
his arm-pits—a trick he had when greatly excited—otherwise as cool as
possible, was, as Lamb afterwards told me, a sight not to be forgotten.

But shore life in Nassau was by no means "all beer and skittles." As I
have stated, the cheery side had its reverse. So far as I was concerned,
I had always a busy time attending to the mercantile part of the
business, and latterly a large staff of clerks, captains, and officers
to supervise, to manage whom required all the tact and firmness of which
as a comparative youngster I was capable. But on the whole they were a
loyal set of men; some imbeciles were indeed sent out as captains, who
were no more fit to command a blockade-runner than I was a regiment, and
these men had to be superseded and replaced by others: which caused much
friction, but the interests involved were so large that I could not
afford to be sentimental.

The business had now grown to very large proportions; owing to the
success achieved by the first _Banshee_ her shareholders were encouraged
to make further investments, and their friends were only too delighted
to follow suit. The consequence was that my principals at home
established a private Joint Stock Company with a large capital, by means
of which steamer after steamer was built and sent out for me to
manipulate.

Individual ventures gradually became the exception, and on account of
the amount of capital required it was found more profitable to form
large companies. The risk of loss was lessened by the possession of a
greater number of vessels, as even if half the fleet owned by a company
were captured the profits earned by the other half would more than
counterbalance the loss entailed by failure. The mercantile house which
transacted the company's business invariably held a large quantity of
the stock, and the commission earned was so great that, even if the
individual stockholders lost, the mercantile house came out a gainer.

This change increased immensely my responsibilities and anxieties; vast
sums had to be dealt with, and at times a decision had to be made in an
instant upon a subject which involved grave consequences but brooked
little delay. However, youth and a sanguine temperament seemed to carry
me along, and in those days I managed to brush aside difficulties and
annoyances which in these later times would appear to me insufferable.

One morning I was wakened up at daylight by Doering and the captain of a
boat called the _Tristram Shandy_, which I had despatched only five days
before on her maiden trip, standing at the foot of my bed. They
explained to me that they had arrived within 100 miles of Wilmington
when they had fallen in with a fast cruiser, who had chased them; to
avoid capture they had been obliged to throw all their cargo overboard.
This in itself meant a serious loss, but it was not the sum-total of the
day's misfortunes, for some hours later I heard of the capture of
another of our boats, and the total destruction of a third by being run
ashore and destroyed by the blockaders—a heavy bill of misfortune for
one day!

The _Tristram Shandy_ had a very short and unfortunate career; after
being reloaded subsequent to her compulsory return, she started on her
second attempt and steamed safely in. But in coming out her funnels,
owing to the peculiar construction of her boilers, flamed very much, and
it appears that a gunboat followed her by this flame all night, and when
morning broke was seen to be about three miles astern. The captain at
once ordered extra steam to be put on, but owing to this having been
done too suddenly, one of her valve spindles was wrenched off, and she
lay helpless at the mercy of the chaser, who speedily came up and took
possession.

She had on board a very valuable cargo of cotton, and in addition
$50,000 in specie belonging to the Confederate Government; this,
according to agreement with the Government, Doering proceeded to throw
overboard, but some of the crew, determined to have a finger in the
spoil, rushed aft and broke open the kegs. In the mêlée a quantity of
gold pieces were strewn among the cotton bales on deck, and when the
Northerners came on board they were very irate to think they had lost a
considerable portion of their prize money. The steamer was taken into
Philadelphia and condemned, and the crew were kept prisoners in New York
for several months.

In addition to the worries and anxieties I have detailed we had to fight
that demon, yellow Jack, which raged with fearful mortality both at
Nassau and Wilmington. In Nassau I have counted seventeen funerals pass
my house before breakfast, and in one day I have attended interments of
three intimate friends. In Wilmington it was worse; in one season alone,
out of a total population of 6000, 2500 died. No wonder the authorities
were scared and imposed heavy penalties on us in the shape of
quarantine. On two occasions I have been in quarantine for fifty days at
a time—think of that, _you_ modern luxurious travellers, who growl if
_you_ are detained three days.

On the first occasion out of a crew of thirty-two twenty-eight were laid
low, and we had seven deaths; only the captain, chief engineer, steward,
and myself were free from fever. On the second we had no sickness, and
only suffered from the ennui consequent upon such close confinement and
short rations, as latterly we had nothing but salt pork and sardines to
eat. We were only saved from a third dose of quarantine almost by a
miracle.

It happened that the Southern Agent in Egypt had sent a very valuable
Arab horse to Nassau, as a present for Jefferson Davis. Heiliger, the
Confederate Agent there, asked me if I would take it in through the
blockade. I at once consented, and it was shipped on board the
_Banshee_. We got through all right, but when the health officer came on
board and ordered us to quarantine, I said: "If we have to go there, the
horse will certainly have to be destroyed, as we have no food for it."
Thereupon he telegraphed to Richmond, and the reply came back that the
_Banshee_ was to proceed to the town, land the horse, and return to
quarantine. When we were alongside the wharf a large number of our crew
jumped on shore and disappeared. I said to the General, who was a friend
of mine, "It is no use our going back to quarantine after this, you
either have the infection or not," and I induced him to telegraph again
to Richmond. The answer came back, "_Banshee_ must discharge and load as
quickly as possible, and proceed to sea; lend all assistance."

The General acted on these instructions, and upon the third day we were
gaily proceeding down the river again with an outward cargo on board,
passing quite a fleet of steamers at the quarantine ground, whose crews
were gnashing their teeth. We got safely out and returned, after making
another trip, to find the same boats in quarantine, and, as it was
raised some three days after our arrival, we steamed up the river in
company, much to the disgust of their crews.

Good old horse, he saved me from a dreary confinement in quarantine, and
made the owners of the _Banshee_ some £20,000 to £30,000 extra, but he
was nearly the cause of our all being put in a Northern prison and
losing our steamer. On a very still night, as we were running in and
creeping noiselessly through the hostile fleet, he commenced neighing
(smelling the land, I expect). In an instant two or three jackets were
thrown over his head; but it was too late; he had been heard on board a
cruiser very close to which we were passing, and she and two or three of
her consorts immediately opened fire upon us. We had the heels of them,
however, and our friend Colonel Lamb at Fort Fisher was soon protecting
us, playing over our heads with shell.

On a subsequent occasion disaster might have overtaken the _Banshee_
under somewhat similar circumstances had a cruiser happened to be near.
A game-cock which we kept on board as a pet suddenly began to crow. But
this time the disaster was to the game-cock and not to the _Banshee_,
for, pet as he was, his neck was promptly twisted. Such experiences as
these showed how easy it was to increase the risks of blockade-running;
absence of all avoidable noise at night was as essential as the
extinction of all lights on board ship.



                              CHAPTER VIII

                               OUR FLEET

  First introduction to the _Will-o'-the-Wisp_—Making a dash for
      it—A question of speed—Under heavy fire from both quarters—Run
      ashore at full speed—An awkward predicament—All hands to the
      pumps—Resort to desperate remedies—A struggle for sixty
      hours—Sale of the _Will-o'-the-Wisp_—Her end—The _Wild Dayrell_—A
      record performance—Loss of the _Wild Dayrell_—An incapable
      Captain—The _Stormy Petrel_ and the _Wild Rover_.


The reason for my leaving the _Banshee_ was the arrival at Nassau of a
new steamer which my firm had sent out to me. This was the
_Will-o'-the-Wisp_, and great things were expected from her. She was
built on the Clyde, was a much larger and faster boat than the
_Banshee_, but shamefully put together, and most fragile. My first
introduction to her was seeing her appear off Nassau, and receiving a
message by the pilot boat, from Capper, the captain, to say that the
vessel was leaking badly and he dare not stop his engines, as they had
to be kept going in order to work the pumps. We brought her into the
harbour, and having beached her and afterwards made all necessary
repairs on the slipway, I decided to take a trip in her.

As soon as the nights were sufficiently dark we made a start for
Wilmington, unfortunately meeting very bad weather and strong head
winds, which delayed us; the result was that instead of making out the
blockading fleet about midnight, as we had intended, when dawn was
breaking there were still no signs of them. Capper, the chief engineer,
and I then held a hurried consultation as to what we had better do.
Capper was for going to sea again, and if necessary returning to Nassau;
the weather was still threatening, our coal supply running short, and,
with a leaky ship beneath us, the engineer and I decided that the lesser
risk would be to make a dash for it. "All right," said Capper, "we'll go
on, but you'll get d——d well peppered!"

We steamed cautiously on, making as little smoke as possible, whilst I
went to the masthead to take a look round: no land was in sight, but I
could make out in the dull morning light the heavy spars of the
blockading flagship right ahead of us, and soon after several other
masts became visible on each side of her. Picking out what appeared to
me to be the widest space between these, I signalled to the deck how to
steer, and we went steadily on—determined when we found we were
perceived to make a rush for it. No doubt our very audacity helped us
through, as for some time they took no notice, evidently thinking we
were one of their own chasers returning from sea to take up her station
for the day.

At last, to my great relief, I saw Fort Fisher just appearing above the
horizon, although we knew that the perilous passage between these
blockaders must be made before we could come under the friendly
protection of its guns. Suddenly, we became aware that our enemy had
found us out; we saw two cruisers steaming towards one another from
either side of us, so as to intercept us at a given point before we
could get on the land side of them. It now became simply a question of
speed and immunity from being sunk by shot. Our little vessel quivered
again under the tremendous pressure with which she was being driven
through the water.

An exciting time followed, as we and our two enemies rapidly converged
upon one point, others in the distance also hurrying up to assist them.
We were now near enough to be within range, and the cruiser on our port
side opened fire; his first shot carried away our flagstaff aft on which
our ensign had just been hoisted; his second tore through our forehold,
bulging out a plate on the opposite side. Bedding and blankets to stop
the leak were at once requisitioned, and we steamed on full speed under
a heavy fire from both quarters. Suddenly, puffs of smoke from the fort
showed us that Colonel Lamb, the commandant, was aware of what was going
on and was firing to protect us; a welcome proof that we were drawing
within range of his guns and on the landward side of our pursuers, who,
after giving us a few more parting shots, hauled off and steamed away
from within reach of the shells which we were rejoiced to see falling
thickly around them.

We had passed through a most thrilling experience; at one time the
cruiser on our port side was only a hundred yards with her consort a
hundred and fifty away from us on the starboard, and it seemed a miracle
that their double fire had not completely sunk us. It certainly required
all one's nerve to stand upon the paddle-box, looking without flinching
almost into the muzzles of the guns, which were firing at us; and proud
we were of our crew, not a man of whom showed the white feather. Our
pilot, who showed no lack of courage at the time, became, however,
terribly excited as we neared the bar, and whether it was that the ship
steered badly, owing to being submerged forward, or from some mistake,
he ran her ashore whilst going at full speed. The result was a most
frightful shaking, which of course materially increased the leaks, and
we feared she would become a total wreck; fortunately the tide was
rising, and, through lightening her by throwing some of the cargo
overboard, we succeeded in getting her off and steamed up the river to
Wilmington, where we placed her on the mud.

After repairing the shot holes and other damage, we were under the
impression that no further harm from running ashore had come to her, as
all leaks were apparently stopped and the ship was quite tight. The
result proved us to be sadly wrong on this point. After loading our
usual cargo we started down the river all right, and waited for
nightfall in order to cross the bar and run through the fleet. No sooner
had we crossed it and found ourselves surrounded by cruisers than the
chief engineer rushed on to the bridge, saying the water was already
over the stoke-hole plates, and he feared that the ship was sinking. At
the same moment a quantity of firewood which was stowed round one of the
funnels (and which was intended to eke out our somewhat scanty coal
supply) caught fire, and flames burst out.

[Illustration: _WILL-O'-THE-WISP'S_ DASH FOR WILMINGTON. _To face page
106._]

This placed us in a pretty predicament, as it showed our whereabouts to
two cruisers which were following us, one on each quarter. They at once
opened a furious cannonade upon us; however, although shells were
bursting all around and shot flying over us, all hands worked with a
will, and we soon extinguished the flames, which were acting as a
treacherous beacon to our foes. Fortunately the night was intensely
dark, and nothing could be seen beyond a radius of thirty or forty
yards, so, thanks to this, we were soon enabled, by altering our helm,
to give our pursuers the slip, whilst they probably kept on their
course.

We had still the other enemy to deal with; but our chief engineer and
his staff had meanwhile been hard at work and had turned on the
"bilge-injection" and "donkey-pumps." Still, the leak was gaining upon
us, and it became evident that the severe shaking which the ship got
when run aground had started the plates in her bottom. The mud had been
sucked up when she lay in the river at Wilmington, thus temporarily
repairing the damage; but when she got into the sea-way the action of
the water opened them again. Even the steam pumps now could not prevent
the water from gradually increasing; four of our eight furnaces were
extinguished, and the firemen were working up to their middles in water.

It was a critical time when daylight broke, dull and threatening. The
captain was at the wheel, and I at the mast-head (all other hands being
employed at the pumps, and even baling), when, not four miles off, I
sighted a cruiser broadside on. She turned round as if preparing to give
chase, and I thought we were done for, as we could not have got more
than three or four knots an hour out of our crippled boat. To my great
joy, however, I found our alarm was needless, for she evidently had not
seen us, and instead of heading turned her stern towards us and
disappeared into a thick bank of clouds.

Still we were far from being out of danger, as the weather became worse
and worse and the wind increased in force until it was blowing almost a
gale. Things began to look as ugly as they could, and even Capper lost
hope: I shall never forget the expression on his face as he came up to
me and said, in his gruff voice, "I say, Mr. Taylor! the beggar's going,
the beggar's going," pointing vehemently downwards. "What the devil do
you mean!" I exclaimed. "Why, we are going to lose the ship and our
lives too," was the answer. It is not possible for any one unacquainted
with Capper to appreciate this scene. Sturdy, thickset, nearly as broad
as he was long, and with the gruffest manner but kindest heart,—although
a rough diamond and absolutely without fear. With the exception of
Steele he was the best blockade-running captain we had.

In order to save the steamer and our lives we decided that desperate
remedies must be resorted to, so again the unlucky deck cargo had to be
sacrificed. The good effect of this was soon visible; we began to gain
on the water, and were able, by degrees, to relight our extinguished
fires. But the struggle continued to be a most severe one, for just when
we began to obtain a mastery over the water the donkey-engine broke
down, and before we could repair it the water increased sensibly, nearly
putting out our fires again. So the struggle went on for sixty hours,
when we were truly thankful to steam into Nassau harbour and beach the
ship. It was a very narrow escape, for within twenty minutes after
stopping her engines the vessel had sunk to the level of the water.

I had the _Will-o'-the-Wisp_ raised, hauled up on the slip, and repaired
at an enormous expense before she was fit again for sea. Subsequently
she made several trips, but as I found her a constant source of delay
and expenditure I decided to sell her. After having her cobbled up with
plenty of putty and paint, I was fortunate enough to open negotiations
with some Jews with a view to her purchase. Having settled all
preliminaries we arranged for a trial trip, and after a very sumptuous
lunch I proceeded to run her over a measured mile for the benefit of the
would-be purchasers. I need scarcely mention that we subjected her
machinery to the utmost strain, bottling up steam to a pressure of which
our present Board of Trade, with its motherly care for our lives, would
express strong disapproval. The log line was whisked merrily over the
stern of the _Will-o'-the-Wisp_, with the satisfactory result that she
logged 17-1/2 knots. The Jews were delighted, so was I; and the bargain
was clinched. I fear, however, that their joy was short-lived; a few
weeks afterwards when attempting to steam into Galveston she was run
ashore and destroyed by the Federals. When we ran into that port a few
months afterwards in the second _Banshee_ we saw her old bones on the
beach.

After this I made a trip in a new boat that had just been sent out to
me, the _Wild Dayrell_. And a beauty she was, very strong, a perfect
sea-boat, and remarkably well engined.

Our voyage in was somewhat exciting, as about three o'clock in the
afternoon, while making for the Fort Caswell entrance (not Fort Fisher),
we were sighted by a Federal cruiser, who immediately gave chase. We
soon found however, that we had the heels of our friend, but it left us
the alternative of going out to sea or being chased straight into the
jaws of the blockaders off the bar before darkness came on. Under these
circumstances what course to take was a delicate point to decide, but we
solved the problem by slowing down just sufficiently to keep a few miles
ahead of our chaser, hoping that darkness would come on before we made
the fleet or they discovered us. Just as twilight was drawing in we made
them out; cautiously we crept on, feeling certain that our friend astern
was rapidly closing up on us. Every moment we expected to hear shot
whistling around us. So plainly could we see the sleepy blockaders that
it seemed almost impossible we should escape their notice. Whether they
did not expect a runner to make an attempt so early in the evening, or
whether it was sheer good luck on our part, I know not, but we ran
through the lot without being seen or without having a shot fired at us.

Our anxieties, however, were not yet over, as our pilot (a new hand)
lost his reckoning and put us ashore on the bar. Fortunately the flood
tide was rising fast, and we refloated, bumping over stern first in a
most inglorious fashion, and anchored off Fort Caswell before 7 P.M.—a
record performance. Soon after anchoring and while enjoying the usual
cocktail we saw a great commotion among the blockaders, who were
throwing up rockets and flashing lights, evidently in answer to signals
from the cruiser which had so nearly chased us into their midst.

When we came out we met with equally good luck, as the night was pitch
dark and the weather very squally. No sooner did we clear the bar than
we put our helm aport, ran down the coast, and then stood boldly
straight out to sea without interference: and it was perhaps as well we
had such good fortune, as before this I had discovered that our pilot
was of a very indifferent calibre, and that courage was not our
captain's most prominent characteristic. The poor _Wild Dayrell_
deserved a better commander, and consequently a better fate than befell
her. She was lost on her second trip, entirely through the want of pluck
on the part of her captain, who ran her ashore some miles to the north
of Fort Fisher; as _he_ said in order to avoid capture,—to my mind a
fatal excuse for any blockade-running captain to make. 'Twere far better
to be sunk by shot and escape in the boats if possible. I am quite
certain that if Steele had commanded her on that trip she would never
have been put ashore, and the chances are that she would have come
through all right.

I never forgave myself for not unshipping the captain on my return to
Nassau; my only excuse was that there was no good man available to
replace him with, and he was a particular protégé of my chiefs. But such
considerations should not have weighed, and if I had had the courage of
my convictions it is probable the _Wild Dayrell_ would have proved as
successful as any of our steamers.

About this time I had two other new boats sent out, the _Stormy Petrel_
and the _Wild Rover_, both good boats, very fast, and distinct
improvements on the _Banshee_ No. 1 and _Will-o'-the-Wisp_. The _Stormy
Petrel_ had, however, very bad luck, as after getting safely in and
anchoring behind Fort Fisher she settled as the tide went down on a
submerged anchor, the fluke of which went through her bottom, and
despite all efforts she became a total wreck: this was one of the most
serious and unlucky losses I had. The _Wild Rover_ was more successful,
as she made five round trips, on one of which I went in her. She
survived the war, and I eventually sent her to South America, where she
was sold for a good sum.



                               CHAPTER IX

                                BERMUDA

     Yellow fever—The _Night Hawk_—A nervous pilot—Under heavy
         fire—Aground on Wilmington bar—Boarded by the Federals—The
         _Night Hawk_ set on fire—An Irishman's ruse—To the rescue
         of the _Night Hawk_—The close of her career—A hard week's
         work—Fever and ague—A waste of expensive material—A famous
         Confederate spy—A diabolical idea.


We had in the early part of the war a depôt at Bermuda as well as at
Nassau, and Frank Hurst was at that time my brother agent there. I went
there twice, once in the first _Banshee_, and once from Halifax, after a
trip to Canada in order to recruit from a bad attack of yellow fever;
but I never liked Bermuda, and later on we transferred Hurst and his
agency to Nassau, which was more convenient in many ways and nearer
Wilmington. Moreover I had to face the contingency, which afterwards
occurred, of the Atlantic ports being closed and our being driven to the
Gulf. The Mudians, however, were a kind, hospitable lot, and made a
great deal of us, and there was a much larger naval and military society
stationed there than in Nassau. They had suffered from a severe outbreak
of yellow fever, and the 3rd Buffs, who were in garrison at the time,
had been almost decimated by it.

It was on my second trip to the island that one of the finest boats we
ever possessed, called the _Night Hawk_, came out, and I concluded to
run in with her. She was a new side-wheel steamer of some 600 tons
gross, rigged as a fore and aft schooner, with two funnels, 220 feet
long, 21-1/2 feet beam, and 11 feet in depth; a capital boat for the
work, fast, strong, of light draught, and a splendid sea-boat—a great
merit in a blockade-runner that sometimes has to be forced in all
weathers. The _Night Hawk's_ career was a very eventful one, and she
passed an unusually lively night off Fort Fisher on her first attempt.

Soon after getting under weigh our troubles began. We ran ashore outside
Hamilton, one of the harbours of Bermuda, and hung on a coral reef for a
couple of hours. There loomed before us the dismal prospect of delay for
repairs, or, still worse, the chance of springing a leak and
experiencing such difficulties and dangers as we had undergone on the
_Will-o'-the-Wisp_, but fortunately we came off without damage and were
able to proceed on our voyage.

Another anxiety now engrossed my mind: the captain was an entirely new
hand, and nearly all the crew were green at the work; moreover, the
Wilmington pilot was quite unknown to me, and I could see from the
outset that he was very nervous and badly wanting in confidence. What
would I not have given for our trusty Tom Burroughs. However, we had to
make the best of it, as, owing to the demand, the supply of competent
pilots was not nearly sufficient, and towards the close of the blockade
the so-called pilots were no more than boatmen or men who had been
trading in and out of Wilmington or Charleston in coasters.
Notwithstanding my fears, all went well on the way across, and the
_Night_ _Hawk_ proved to be everything that could be desired in speed
and seaworthiness.

We had sighted unusually few craft, and nothing eventful occurred until
the third night. Soon after midnight we found ourselves uncomfortably
near a large vessel. It was evident that we had been seen, as we heard
them beating to quarters and were hailed. We promptly sheered off and
went full speed ahead, greeted by a broadside which went across our
stern.

When we arrived within striking distance of Wilmington bar the pilot was
anxious to go in by Smith's inlet, but as he acknowledged that he knew
very little about it I concluded it was better to keep to the new inlet
passage, where, at all events, we should have the advantage of our good
friend Lamb to protect us; and I felt that as I myself knew the place so
well, this was the safest course to pursue. We were comparatively well
through the fleet, although heavily fired at, and arrived near to the
bar, passing close by two Northern launches which were lying almost upon
it. Unfortunately it was dead low water, and although I pressed the
pilot to give our boat a turn round, keeping under weigh, and to wait a
while until the tide made, he was so demoralised by the firing we had
gone through and the nearness of the launches, which were constantly
throwing up rockets, that he insisted upon putting her at the bar, and,
as I feared, we grounded on it forward, and with the strong flood-tide
quickly broached-to, broadside on to the Northern breaker. We kept our
engines going for some time—but to no purpose, as we found we were only
being forced by the tide more on to the breakers. Therefore we stopped,
and all at once found our friends, the two launches, close aboard: they
had discovered we were ashore, and had made up their minds to attack us.

At once all was in confusion; the pilot and signalman rushed to the
dinghy, lowered it, and made good their escape; the captain lost his
head and disappeared; and the crews of the launches, after firing
several volleys, one of which slightly wounded me, rowed in to board us
on each sponson. Just at this moment I suddenly recollected that our
private despatches, which ought to have been thrown overboard, were
still in the starboard life-boat. I rushed to it, but found the lanyard
to which the sinking weight was attached was foul of one of the thwarts;
I tugged and tugged, but to no purpose, so I sung out for a knife which
was handed to me by a fireman, and I cut the line and pitched the bag
overboard as the Northerners jumped on board. Eighteen months afterwards
that fireman accosted me in the Liverpool streets, saying, "Mr. Taylor,
do you remember my lending you a knife." "Of course I do," I replied,
giving him a tip at which he was mightily pleased: poor fellow, he had
been thirteen months in a Northern prison.

When the Northerners jumped on board they were terribly excited. I don't
know whether they expected resistance or not, but they acted more like
maniacs than sane men, firing their revolvers and cutting right and left
with their cutlasses. I stood in front of the men on the poop and said
that we surrendered, but all the reply I received from the lieutenant
commanding was, "Oh, you surrender, do you?..." accompanied by a string
of the choicest Yankee oaths and sundry reflections upon my parentage;
whereupon he fired his revolver twice point blank at me not two yards
distant: it was a miracle he did not kill me, as I heard the bullets
whiz past my head. This roused my wrath, and I expostulated in the
strongest terms upon his firing on unarmed men; he then cooled down,
giving me into the charge of two of his men, one of whom speedily
possessed himself of my binoculars. Fortunately, as I had no guard to my
watch, they didn't discover it, and I have it still.

Finding they could not get the ship off, and afraid, I presume, of Lamb
and his men coming to our rescue, the Federals commenced putting the
captain (who had been discovered behind a boat!) and the crew into the
boats; they then set the ship on fire fore and aft, and she soon began
to blaze merrily. At this moment one of our firemen, an Irishman, sung
out, "Begorra, we shall all be in the air in a minute, the ship is full
of gunpowder!" No sooner did the Northern sailors hear this than a panic
seized them, and they rushed to their boats, threatening to leave their
officers behind if they did not come along. The men who were holding me
dropped me like a hot potato, and to my great delight jumped into their
boat, and away they rowed as fast as they could, taking all our crew,
with the exception of the second officer, one of the engineers, four
seamen and myself, as prisoners.

We chuckled at our lucky escape, but we were not out of the wood yet, as
we had only a boat half stove in, in which to reach the shore through
some 300 yards of surf, and we were afraid at any moment that our
enemies finding there was no powder on board might return. We made a
feeble effort to put the fire out, but it had gained too much headway,
and although I offered the men with me £50 apiece to stand by me and
persevere, they were too demoralised and began to lower the shattered
boat, swearing that they would leave me behind if I didn't come with
them. There was nothing for it but to go, yet the passage through the
boiling surf seemed more dangerous to my mind than remaining on the
burning ship. The blockaders immediately opened fire when they knew
their own men had left the _Night Hawk_, and that she was burning; and
Lamb's great shells hurtling over our heads, and those from the
blockading fleet bursting all around us, formed a weird picture. In
spite of the hail of shot and shell and the dangers of the boiling surf,
we reached the shore in safety, wet through, and glad I was in my state
of exhaustion from loss of blood and fatigue to be welcomed by Lamb's
orderly officer.

The poor _Night Hawk_ was now a sheet of flame, and I thought it was all
up with her; and indeed it would have been had it not been for Lamb,
who, calling for volunteers from his garrison, sent off two or three
boat loads of men to her, and when I came down to the beach, after
having my wound dressed and a short rest, I was delighted to find the
fire had sensibly decreased. I went on board, and after some hours of
hard work the fire was extinguished. But what a wreck she was!

Luckily with the rising tide she had bumped over the bank, and was now
lying on the main beach much more accessible and sheltered. Still it
seemed an almost hopeless task to save her; but we were not going to be
beaten without a try, so, having ascertained how she lay and the
condition she was in, I resolved to have an attempt to get her dry, and
telegraphed to Wilmington for assistance.

Our agent sent me down about 300 negroes to assist in baling and
pumping, and I set them to work at once. As good luck would have it, my
finest steamer, _Banshee_ No. 2, which had just been sent out, ran in
the next night. She was a great improvement on the first _Banshee_,
having a sea-speed of 15-1/2 knots, which was considered very fast in
those days; her length was 252 feet, beam 31 feet, depth 11 feet, her
registered tonnage 439 tons, and her crew consisted of fifty-three in
all. I at once requisitioned her for aid in the shape of engineers and
men, so that now I had everything in the way of hands I could want. Our
great difficulty was that the _Night Hawk's_ anchors would not hold for
us to get a fair haul at her.

But here again I was to be in luck. For the very next night the
_Falcon_, commanded by poor Hewett, in attempting to run in stuck fast
upon the bank over which we had bumped, not one hundred yards to
windward of us, and broke in two. It is an ill wind that blows nobody
good, and Hewett's mischance proved the saving of our ship. Now we had a
hold for our chain cables by making them fast to the wreck, and were
able gradually to haul her off by them a little during each tide, until
on the seventh day we had her afloat in a gut between the bank and the
shore, and at high water we steamed under our own steam gaily up the
river to Wilmington.

Considering the appliances we had and the circumstances under which we
were working, the saving of that steamer was certainly a wonderful
performance, as we were under fire almost the whole time. The
Northerners, irritated, no doubt, by their failure to destroy the ship,
used to shell us by day and send in boats by night; Lamb, however, put a
stop to the latter annoyance by lending us a couple of companies to
defend us, and one night, when our enemies rowed close up with the
intention of boarding us, they were glad to sheer off with the loss of a
lieutenant and several men. In spite of all the shot and shell by day
and the repeated attacks at night, we triumphed in the end, and, after
having the _Night Hawk_ repaired at a huge cost and getting together a
crew, I gave May, a friend of mine, command of her, and he ran her out
successfully with a valuable cargo, which made her pay, notwithstanding
all her bad luck and the amount spent upon her. Poor May, he was
afterwards governor of Perth gaol, and is dead now,—a high-toned,
sensitive gentleman, mightily proud of his ship, lame duck as she was.

When she was burning, our utmost efforts were of course directed towards
keeping her engine-room and boilers amidships intact, and confining the
flames to both ends; in this we were successful, mainly owing to the
fact of her having thwart-ship bunkers: but as regards the rest of the
steamer she was a complete wreck; her sides were all corrugated with the
heat, and her stern so twisted that her starboard quarter was some two
feet higher than her port one, and not a particle of woodwork was left
unconsumed. Owing to the limited resources of Wilmington as regards
repairs, I found it impossible to have this put right, so her sides were
left as they were, and the new deck put on on the slope I have
described, and caulked with cotton, as no oakum was procurable. When
completed she certainly was a queer-looking craft, but as tight as a
bottle and as seaworthy as ever, although I doubt if any Lloyd's
surveyor would have passed her. But as a matter of fact she came across
the Atlantic, deeply immersed with her coal supply, through some very
bad weather, without damage, and was sold for a mere song, to be
repaired and made into a passenger boat for service on the East Coast,
where she ran for many years with success.

It had been a hard week for me, as I had no clothes except what I had on
when we were boarded,—my servant very cleverly, as he imagined, having
thrown my portmanteau into the man-of-war's boat when he thought I was
going to be captured, and all I had in the world was the old serge suit
in which I stood. Being without a change and wet through every day and
night for six days consecutively, it is little wonder that I caught
fever and ague, of which I nearly died in Richmond, and which
distressing complaint stuck to me for more than eighteen months. I shall
never forget, on going to a store in Wilmington for a new rig-out (which
by the bye cost $1200), the look of horror on the storekeeper's face
when I told him the coat I had purchased would do if he cut a foot off
it: he thought it such a waste of expensive material.

A very unfortunate occurrence took place incident upon the wreck of the
_Falcon_. She had on board as passenger a Mrs. Greenhow, a famous
Confederate spy, who, when the steamer struck, pleaded hard to be put
ashore, fearing no doubt capture by the Federals. Hewett was most
energetic in his efforts to dissuade her, but at last manned a boat for
her, which was upset in the breakers, and she alone was drowned. It was
I who found her body on the beach at daylight, and afterwards took it up
to Wilmington. A remarkably handsome woman she was, with features which
showed much character. Although one cannot altogether admire the
profession of a spy, still there was no doubt that she imagined herself
in following such a profession to be serving her country in the only way
open to her.

Surely in war the feelings of both men and women become blunted as to
the niceties of what is right or wrong. I well remember on one occasion
an eminent Confederate officer bringing me an infernal machine which he
had invented, a kind of shell exactly like a lump of coal, with a
request that some should be placed on each of our steamers, and that, in
case of capture, they should be put in the coal bunkers so as to be
thrown into the furnaces by the prize crew. I told him that this was not
my idea of making war, and moreover mildly suggested that, even if it
were, he seemed to have forgotten that our crew would probably be on
board as prisoners and be blown up into the air with their captors.

Another eminent Confederate military doctor proposed to me during the
prevalence of the yellow fever epidemic that he should ship by our boats
to Nassau and Bermuda sundry cases of infected clothing, which were to
be sent to the North with the idea of spreading the disease there. This
was too much, and I shouted at him, not in the choicest language, to
leave the office. It is difficult to conceive of such a diabolical idea,
not only to spread havoc among combatants, but among innocent women and
children, being present in an educated man's mind.



                               CHAPTER X

                   EXPERIENCES ASHORE IN DIXIE'S LAND

  Railway travelling in the Southern States—The conductor's
      car—Carrying despatches—A weary and anxious wait—Under fire
      in a train—Excitement in Richmond—General Lee's headquarter
      staff—The Confederate Government—Privations in Richmond—The
      bitterest rebels of the war—A startling dinner bill—Provisioning
      General Lee's army—Admiral Porter's first attack on Fort
      Fisher—The _Banshee_ No. 2 runs through the Federal
      Fleet—General and Mrs. Randolph—A magnificent cargo.


The dangers and discomforts at sea were not the only excitements which a
blockade-runner experienced. As the blockade-running fleet of which I
had charge extended, not only was an increase in my office staff in
Nassau entailed, but a good deal of travelling by rail to and fro
between Wilmington and Richmond, for the purpose of negotiations with
the heads of departments there regarding the contracts we had with them,
and upon various other matters.

These trips involved an enormous amount of fatigue, worry, excitement,
and even danger, as it was no easy matter latterly to get in and out of
the beleaguered city safely; the railway journey itself, which often
extended over a couple of days and nights, was an affair of great
discomfort, the permanent way being anything but permanent, and the
rolling stock too often rolling elsewhere than upon the rails. It was
considered a joke in those days to assert that a journey from Wilmington
to Richmond was almost as dangerous as an engagement with the enemy. The
only place on the train where any approach to comfort was obtainable was
in the conductor's car, the entrée to which I generally contrived to
secure, aided by a little judicious palm-greasing and the possession of
a brandy bottle or two; but the latter had its disadvantages, as the
word was soon passed round that there was a Britisher on board the train
with some _real_ good brandy. And it was considered the duty of every
one to whom I had stood a drink to introduce a friend who wanted one
badly; consequently the brandy was generally used up on the outward
trip, and there was little left for the return. But it was great
pleasure to be able to quench the poor fellows' thirst, more especially
the wounded, with whom the cars were often filled to overflowing.

As a rule my good friend Heiliger, Confederate Agent at Nassau, used to
entrust me with despatches, the carriage of which provided me with a
pass which much facilitated my journeys; but on one occasion towards the
end of the war the possession of these despatches made it a little
awkward for me. I had arrived one afternoon at Petersburg, which is
about fifteen miles from Richmond, and found a tremendous hubbub going
on. Butler, having attacked the place with his corps, hoped to take it
and then turn the Confederate flank. Although it was but poorly
defended, being held by some 1500 recruits and boys, they kept their
ground, entrenched about a mile outside the town.

It was while this first attack was in progress that I arrived on the
scene, and recognising the gravity of the position, if the place were
taken and despatches found upon me (an Englishman), I went to the
Commissary-General and asked him to provide me with a horse to take me
to Richmond. He said this was impossible, but that they had telegraphed
for reinforcements, and that Hoke's division was expected by train in an
hour or two, and I had better go to the depôt and there wait my chance
of getting the empty return train. It was a weary and anxious wait, as
we could hear the attack going on and feared the defence would every
moment be overpowered. However, a short time before daylight we heard
the train approaching, and soon afterwards it steamed in, crowded even
on the roofs of carriages by Hoke's men, who were promptly detrained and
hurried off at the double to the scene of action—a welcome
reinforcement. I got in the train, and we started for Richmond. We had
only proceeded a few miles when, in the gray dawn, we saw a body of
Butler's cavalry galloping as hard as they could to intercept us and
tear up the line in front. Our engineer, however, equal to the occasion,
put on full steam, and we just managed to get ahead of them. Seeing they
were too late, they drew up alongside the track and potted at us with
their carbines, without, however, wounding any one. They then at once
tore up the rails in our rear.

Being under fire in a train was a curious experience, and perhaps more
exciting for me than the others, as I had my hand on the blessed
despatches, uncertain what to do. Fortunately we arrived safely at
Richmond, and I was very glad to be rid of my responsibilities. This was
the last train that got in on the direct Wilmington line; after that, in
order to get in and out, we had to make a long detour viâ Danville.

I found Richmond in a great state of excitement; the Northern attack had
become more animated; the investment was more stringent; the booming of
heavy guns was heard night and day; and hourly reports were brought from
the front. It was upon this visit that I accompanied Lee's Headquarter
staff on the celebrated march along the south side of the James river,
when he marched rapidly to Petersburg in order to confront the
Northerners' sudden change of front on that town. Upon a previous
occasion I had made the acquaintance of the great General, and on this
one I breakfasted with him. Shortly afterwards the march, which was very
exciting, began. We were constantly in close touch with the enemy,—at
one time marching through the woods, which were being shelled by the
Northern gunboats in the James river—at another time skirmishing at
close quarters with the Federals' flank; but as I had seen most of the
seven days' fighting round Richmond I felt almost an old campaigner. It
was a hard day, as, after being fifteen hours in the saddle without
food, I was obliged to return to Richmond on important business that
night, instead of bivouacking with the Headquarters staff, as I was
pressed to do. Wearied and almost exhausted I found on my arrival in the
city that all I could obtain at the hotel was some corn bread and cold
bacon washed down with water.

The following is an extract from a letter dated 15th January 1865,
written to my chiefs after this visit to Richmond.


      Altogether I think the Confederate Government is going
      to the _bad_, and if they don't take care the Confederacy
      will go too. I never saw things look so gloomy, and I think
      spring will finish them unless they make a change for
      the better. Georgia is gone, and they say Sherman is
      going to seize Branchville; if he does, Charleston and
      Wilmington will be done—and if Wilmington goes Lee
      has to evacuate Richmond and retire into Tennessee. He
      told me the other day, that if they did not keep Wilmington
      he could not save Richmond. They nearly had Fort Fisher—they
      were within sixty yards of it—and had they pushed
      on as they ought to have done could have taken it. It
      was a terrific bombardment; they estimate that about
      40,000 shells were sent into it. Colonel Lamb behaved
      like a brick—splendidly. I got the last of the Whitworths
      in, and they are now at the Fort. They are very hard up
      for food in the field, but the _Banshee_ has this time 600
      barrels of pork and 1500 boxes of meat—enough to feed
      Lee's army for a month.

The above extract is interesting, as it showed that my diagnosis of the
position of affairs, written in January 1865, proved correct as to what
actually happened two or three months later. Sherman _did_ capture
Branchville, and in consequence Charleston and Wilmington. When the
latter port fell Lee _was_ forced to evacuate Richmond and retire
towards Tennessee and eventually capitulate. Had Charleston and
Wilmington been retained and blockade-running encouraged, instead of
having obstacles thrown in the way, I am convinced that the condition of
affairs would have been altered very materially, and perhaps would have
led to the South obtaining what it had shed so much blood to gain, viz.
its independence. No doubt at that critical time the North was making
its last supreme effort, and, had it failed, negotiations would probably
have been opened up with a view to peace.

The privations of the regular residents in Richmond in those days were
very great, as food of all kinds was very expensive; but all bore their
troubles without a murmur, and I think there was more enthusiasm
displayed there than in any other city in the South; probably because
the people, with the enemy at their gates, were always in close touch
with them, and also because there was such a large female element in
society there, for the ladies of the South were proverbially the
staunchest and bitterest rebels of the war. Of course money still
purchased most things, and we blockade-runners, who were well supplied
with coin, managed to live in comparative comfort and at times even
fared sumptuously. I remember a great dinner I gave to a few heads of
departments; it was a banquet no one need have been ashamed of. But oh
the bill!—a little over $5000 (Confederate) for a dinner to fourteen.
When one has to pay $150 a bottle for champagne, $120 for sherry or
madeira, and as much in proportion for the viands, the account soon runs
up. However, it was a great success, and well worth the cost.

That morning I had met by appointment the Commissary-General, who
divulged to me under promise of secrecy that Lee's army was in terrible
straits, and had in fact rations only for about thirty days. He asked me
if I could help him; I said I would do my best, and after some
negotiations he undertook to pay me a profit of 350 per cent upon any
provisions and meat I could bring in within the next three weeks! I had
then, discharging in Wilmington, the _Banshee_ No. 2, which had just
been sent out to replace the first _Banshee_, and in which I had run the
blockade inwards. I telegraphed instructions to have her made ready for
sea with all speed and await my arrival. After a somewhat exciting and
lengthy journey of three days and nights, owing to having to go round by
Danville, I reached Wilmington, successfully ran the blockade out,
purchased my cargo of provisions, etc. at Nassau for about £6000 (for
which eventually I was paid over £27,000), and, after a most exciting
run in, landed the same in Wilmington within eighteen days after leaving
Richmond.

In the interim between our leaving Wilmington and our return, Porter's
fleet had made an unsuccessful attack upon Fort Fisher, and he was just
then at the time of our appearance upon the scene concluding his attack
and re-embarking his beaten troops. When morning broke and we were near
the fort we counted sixty-four vessels that we had passed through. After
being heavily fired into at daybreak by several gunboats (the fort being
unable to protect us as usual, owing to nearly all its guns having been
put out of action in the attack of the two previous days), it was an
exciting moment as we crossed the bar in safety, cheered by the
garrison, some 2000 strong, who knew we had provisions on board for the
relief of their comrades in Virginia.

I wrote under date of 15th January 1865 to my chiefs at home with
reference to this trip:


      I went over in the _Banshee_ and had an exciting time of
      it; we arrived off the bar when Porter's vast fleet was there,
      and I think the Confederate Trading Company ought to
      be proud of their two vessels (_Banshee_ and _Wild Rover_)
      both running through that immense fleet and getting safely
      in. The _Banshee_ was out in front of them all for half an
      hour after daylight, as we were rather late and could not get
      up to the bar before. They said at Fort Fisher that it was
      a beautiful sight to see the little _Banshee_ manœuvring in
      front of the whole fleet. They sent some vessels in to
      pepper us, but every shot missed, and we got in safely.
      Porter's fleet left that evening, and I think they have given
      up the attack for a time.

I shall never forget that trip. We sailed from Nassau at dusk on the
evening before Christmas day, but were only just outside the harbour
when our steam pipe split and we had to return. As it was hopeless on
account of the moon to make the attempt unless we could get away next
day, I was in despair and thought it was all up with my 350 per cent
profit. After long trying in vain to find some one to undertake the
necessary repairs, owing to its being Christmas day, I found at last a
Yankee, who said: "Well _sir_, its only a question of price." I said
"Name yours," and he replied "Well I guess $400 for three clamps would
be fair." I said "All right, if finished by six o'clock": he set to
work, and we made all arrangements to start. Shortly after six the work
was finished, but the black pilot then declared he couldn't take her out
until the tide turned, there being no room to turn her in the harbour.
As it was a question of hours I said, "Back her out." He grinned and
said, "Perhaps do plenty damage." "Never mind," said I, "try it"—and we
did, with the result that we came plump into the man-of-war lying at the
entrance of the harbour (officers all on deck ready to go down to their
Christmas dinner), and ground along her side, smashing two of her boats
in, but doing ourselves little damage. "Goodbye," I shouted; "a merry
Christmas; send the bill in for the boats." Away we went clear, and
fortunate it was we did so, as we only arrived off Wilmington just in
time to run through Porter's fleet before daybreak.

The trip out was equally exciting, as I had as passengers General
Randolph, ex-Secretary of State for War, who was going to Europe
invalided, and his wife. I did not want to take them, as the _Banshee_
had practically no accommodation whatever, particularly for ladies.
However, _she_ had such a good character for safety, that they pleaded
hard to be taken, and I at last consented, though I did not like at all
the responsibility of having a lady on board. I was determined, however,
to make Mrs. Randolph as safe as possible, so told the stevedore to keep
a square space between the cotton bales on deck, into which she could
retire in case the firing became hot. And hot it did become. Running
down with a strong ebb tide through the Smith's inlet channel, we
suddenly found a gunboat in the middle of the channel on the bar. It was
too late to stop, so we put her at it, almost grazing the gunboat's
sides and receiving her broadside point blank. Mrs. Randolph had retired
to her place of safety, but she told me afterwards that, alarmed as she
was, she could not help laughing when, after she had been there only an
instant, my coloured servant, who had evidently fixed upon the place as
appearing to be the most safe, jumped right on the top of her, his teeth
chattering through fear. How we laughed the next morning, and how poor
Sam got chaffed, but he became quite a cool hand, and when we were
running in, in daylight, in the _Will-o-the-Wisp_ (as I have already
related), and the shot were coming thick, Sam appeared upon the bridge
with his usual "Coffee Sar!"

After we had got rid of our friend on the bar, we were heavily peppered
by her consorts outside, from whom we received no damage, but we fell in
with very bad weather, and the ship was under water most of the time.
Right glad I was to land my passengers, who were half dead through
sea-sickness, exposure, and fatigue.

Although it was a hard trip it paid well, as we had on board coming out
a most magnificent cargo, a great deal of it Sea Island cotton, the
profit upon which and the provisions I had taken in amounted to over
£85,000—not bad work for about twenty days!



                               CHAPTER XI

                          HAVANA AND GALVESTON

   The most expensive city in the world—An adventurous trip—A
       furious gale in the gulf-stream—A run to Galveston—A worthless
       pilot—A "Norther"—Drifting in the middle of a blockading
       squadron—An old friend again—The _Banshee_ nearly
       lost—Uncomfortably close quarters—A choice of alternatives—A
       reckless undertaking—Galveston—A scarcity of cotton—A trip
       to Houston—A sporting conductor and engine-driver—The execution
       of a deserter—Return to Nassau—Ending of the war—A disastrous
       liquidation—Home.


Havana was a great blockade-running centre to and from the Gulf ports,
but until Wilmington was closed I did not attempt to utilise it, for
many reasons preferring Nassau and the last named port. I went over
there, however, several times, partly on business, and partly on
pleasure, and a lovely city it was. Cuba was then in the heyday of
success, and no one who had not visited its capital could have imagined
that such a gay and beautiful city existed in the West Indies. Money
seemed no object. And fortunately there was plenty, for everything was
extravagantly dear, and I should think that at that time it was one of
the most if not the most expensive city in the world to live in.

To us blockade-runners, accustomed to the hard life in the South and the
contracted surroundings of Nassau, Havana appeared like Paradise; good
hotels and casinos, a capital theatre, magnificent equipages, military
bands, handsome women, and, last but not least, the lavish and genial
hospitality dispensed by our Consul-General, Mr. Crawford, and his
charming daughters at their house, "Buenos Ayres," made a residence in
Havana like a rest in an oasis to the weary traveller of the desert. But
it was not all pleasure, as far as I was concerned. I had my business
with its anxieties to attend to, and on one of my visits I had a rather
adventurous trip to Nassau in a small schooner which I had chartered to
convey some boiler tubes there. Being very anxious to reach Nassau
quickly, I decided to go in her instead of waiting for the mail steamer
which left a few days later.

I made a start in the small craft (her size can be imagined when I state
that she was a man-of-war's pinnace raised upon) manned by nine niggers.
The first day out we encountered a furious gale in the Gulf-stream, and
it is a marvel our little craft lived through it, for a fearful sea was
running. However, she proved an excellent sea-boat, and when the gale
subsided we found ourselves on the Bahama banks becalmed; for nine days
we drifted helplessly over them, suffering agonies from the heat,
hunger, and thirst, as we had only laid in provisions for about four
days, and to make matters worse the bung had been left out of our
freshwater cask and in the gale the water was rendered undrinkable by
the salt water washing over it. Fortunately I had laid in a supply of a
dozen of claret and a dozen of beer, and this was all we had to divide
between us; however, everything has an end, and on the ninth day we had
a spanking breeze which carried us in to Nassau, but not until we had
been passed about twenty miles outside by the mail steamer in which I
could have come, and whose captain, recognising me on board the
schooner, jeered at me from his bridge.

When Wilmington was on the point of falling there was nothing for it but
to transfer our operations to Galveston, and to accomplish this I took
the _Banshee_ No. 2 over to Havana with a valuable cargo, accompanied by
Frank Hurst, in order to make an attempt to run into Galveston: this
proved to be my last trip, but it was far from being the least exciting.
When all was ready we experienced the greatest difficulty in finding a
Galveston pilot. Though, owing to the high rate of pay, numbers of men
were to be found ready to offer their services, it was extremely hard to
obtain competent men. After considerable delay we had to content
ourselves at last with a man who _said_ he knew all about the port, but
who turned out to be absolutely worthless. We then made a start, and
with the exception of meeting with the most violent thunderstorm, in
which the lightning was something awful, nothing extraordinary occurred
on our passage across the Gulf of Mexico, and we scarcely saw a
sail—very different from our experiences between Nassau and Wilmington,
when it was generally a case of "sail on the port bow" or "steamer right
ahead" at all hours of the day.

The third evening after leaving Havana we had run our distance, and, on
heaving the lead and finding that we were within a few miles of the
shore, we steamed cautiously on in order to try and make out the
blockading squadron or the land. It was a comparatively calm and very
dark night, just the one for the purpose, but within an hour all had
changed and it commenced to blow a regular "Norther," a wind which is
very prevalent on that coast. Until then I had no idea what a "Norther"
meant; first rain came down in torrents, then out of the inky blackness
of clouds and rain came furious gusts, until a hurricane was blowing
against which, notwithstanding that we were steaming at full speed, we
made little or no way, and although the sea was smooth our decks were
swept by white foam and spray. Suddenly we made out some dark objects
all round us, and found ourselves drifting helplessly among the ships of
the blockading squadron, which were steaming hard to their anchors, and
at one moment we were almost jostling two of them; whether they knew
what we were, or mistook us for one of themselves matters not; they were
too much occupied about their own safety to attempt to interfere.

As to attempt to get into Galveston that night would have been madness,
we let the _Banshee_ drift and, when we thought we were clear of the
fleet, we steamed slowly seaward, after a while shaping a course so as
to make the land about thirty miles to the south-west at daylight. We
succeeded in doing this and quietly dropped our anchor in perfectly calm
water, the "Norther" having subsided almost as quickly as it had risen.
Having seen enough of our pilot to realise that he was no good whatever,
we decided after a conference to lie all day where we were, keeping a
sharp look-out and steam handy, and determined as evening came on to
creep slowly up the coast until we made out the blockading fleet, then
to anchor again and make a bold dash at daylight for our port.

All went well; we were unmolested during the day and got under weigh
towards evening, passing close to a wreck which we recognised as our old
friend the _Will-o'-the-Wisp_, which had been driven ashore and lost on
the very first trip she made after I had sold her. Immediately
afterwards we very nearly lost our own ship too. Seeing a post of
Confederate soldiers close by on the beach, we determined to steam close
in and communicate with them in order to learn all about the tactics of
the blockaders and our exact distance from Galveston. We backed her
close in to the breakers in order to speak, but when the order was given
to go ahead she declined to move, and the chief engineer reported that
something had gone wrong with the cylinder valve, and that she must
heave to for repairs. It was an anxious moment; the _Banshee_ had barely
three fathoms beneath her, and her stern was almost in the white water.
We let go the anchor, but in the heavy swell it failed to hold: the
pilot was in a helpless state of flurry when he found that we were
drifting slowly but steadily towards the shore, but Steele's presence of
mind never for one moment deserted him. The comparatively few minutes
which occupied the engineers in temporarily remedying the defect seemed
like hours in the presence of the danger momentarily threatening us.
When, at length, the engineers managed to turn her ahead we on the
bridge were greatly relieved to see her point seawards and clear the
breakers. I have often thought since, if a disaster had happened and we
had lost the ship, how stupid we should have been thought by people at
home.

As soon as we reached deep water the damage was permanently repaired,
and we steamed cautiously up the coast, until about sundown we made out
the topmasts of the blockading squadron right ahead. We promptly
stopped, calculating that, as they were about ten to eleven miles from
us, Galveston must lie a little further on our port bow. We let go our
anchor and prepared for an anxious night; all hands were on deck and the
cable was ready to be unshackled at a moment's notice, with steam as
nearly ready as possible without blowing off, as at any moment a prowler
from the squadron patrolling the coast might have made us out. We had
not been lying thus very long when suddenly on the starboard bow we made
out a cruiser steaming towards us evidently on the prowl. It was a
critical time; all hands were on deck, a man standing by to knock the
shackle out of the chain cable, and the engineers at their stations.
Thanks to the backing of the coast, our friend did not discover us and
to our relief disappeared to the southward.

After this all was quiet during the remainder of the night, which,
fortunately for us, was very dark, and about two hours before daylight
we quietly raised our anchor and steamed slowly on, feeling our way
cautiously by the lead, and hoping, when daylight fairly broke, to find
ourselves inside the fleet opposite Galveston and able to make a short
dash for the bar. We had been under weigh some time, when suddenly we
discovered a launch close to us on the port bow filled with Northern
blue-jackets and marines. "Full speed ahead," shouted Steele, and we
were within an ace of running her down as we almost grazed her with our
port paddle-wheel. Hurst and I looked straight down into the boat,
waving them a parting salute. The crew seemed only too thankful at their
narrow escape to open fire, but they soon regained their senses and
threw up rocket after rocket in our wake as a warning to the blockading
fleet to be on the alert.

Daylight was then slowly breaking, and the first thing we discovered was
that we had not taken sufficient account of the effects of the "Norther"
on the current; instead of being opposite the town with the fleet broad
on to our starboard beam, we found ourselves down three or four miles
from it and the most leeward blockader close to us on our bow. It was a
moment for immediate decision: the alternatives were to turn tail and
stand a chase to seaward by their fastest cruisers with chance of
capture, and in any case a return to Havana as we had not sufficient
coal for another attempt, or to make a dash for it and take the fire of
the squadron. In an instant we decided to go for it, and orders to turn
ahead full speed were given; but the difficulty now to be overcome was
that we could not make for the main channel without going through the
fleet. This would have been certain destruction, so we had to make for a
sort of swash channel along the beach, which, however, was nothing but a
_cul-de-sac_, and to get from it into the main channel. Shoal water and
heavy breakers had to be passed, but there was now no other choice open
to us.

By this time the fleet had opened fire upon us, and shells were bursting
merrily around as we took the fire of each ship which we passed.
Fortunately there was a narrow shoal between us, which prevented them
from approaching within about half a mile of us; luckily also for us
they were in rough water on the windward side of the shoal and could not
lay their guns with precision. And to this we owed our escape, as,
although our funnels were riddled with shell splinters, we received no
damage and had only one man wounded. But the worst was to come; we saw
the white water already ahead, and we knew our only chance was to bump
through it, being well aware that if she stuck fast we should lose the
ship and all our lives, for no boat, even if it could have been
launched, would have lived in such a surf.

With two leadsmen in the chains we approached our fate, taking no notice
of the bursting shells and round shot to which the blockaders treated us
in their desperation; it was not a question of the fathoms but of the
feet we were drawing: twelve feet, ten, nine, and when we put her at it,
as you do a horse at a jump, and as her nose was entering the white
water, "eight feet" was sung out. A moment afterwards we touched and
hung; and I thought all was over, when a big wave came rolling along and
lifted our stern and the ship bodily with a crack which could be heard a
quarter of a mile off, and which we thought meant that her back was
broken.

[Illustration: _BANSHEE NO. 2_ RUNNING THE GAUNTLET OF THE GALVESTON
BLOCKADING SQUADRON IN DAYLIGHT. _To face page 156._]

She once more went ahead: the worst was over, and, after two or three
minor bumps, we were in the deep channel, helm hard a-starboard and
heading for Galveston Bay, leaving the disappointed blockaders astern.
It was a reckless undertaking and a narrow escape, but we were safe in,
and after an examination by the health officer we steamed gaily up to
the town, the wharves of which were crowded by people, who, gazing to
seaward, had watched our exploit with much interest, and who cheered us
heartily upon its success.

I found Galveston a most forsaken place; its streets covered with sand,
its wharves rotting, its defences in a most deplorable condition, very
different from those at Wilmington, and if the Northerners had taken the
trouble I think that they could easily have possessed themselves of it.
But our welcome was warm, and during the _Banshee's_ long stay we had a
real good time; General Magruder was in command, and many a cheery
entertainment we had on board with him and his staff as guests, who were
all musical. We had a capital French cook, and as plenty of game, fish,
and oysters were procurable, and our good liquor was plentiful, we had
all the necessary ingredients for many most sociable evenings—this was
the bright side of the picture.

The reverse was the difficulty I had in procuring a suitable outward
cargo; the inward one was all right, and I found our assortment would
sell well, but the trouble was to obtain cotton: there was extremely
little of it left near the seaboard, and to get it from further up
country was a long, tedious, and expensive process. Moreover, I found
there would be great difficulty in having it pressed, and to take a
cargo of half-pressed cotton meant very serious loss indeed; however,
having arranged for the sale by auction of the inward cargo, Hurst and I
started for Houston, the capital of Texas, armed with a letter of
introduction to the most influential merchant there, who agreed after
endless negotiations to provide at a high price a full-pressed cargo,
but required a long time for delivery and payment half in Confederate
money (being part of the proceeds of our inward cargo), and the balance
by drafts on home. This meant a further loss in withdrawing my
superfluous proceeds from the country, but as no better bargain could be
made I agreed.

Houston, in those days, was a pretty little town, very dull of course,
but fortunately we made the acquaintance of a charming family, refugees
from Baton Rouge, who were most kind to us, and I shall ever feel
grateful to Mrs. Avery and her fair daughters for the hospitality which
they extended to me.

After concluding these arrangements I returned to Galveston, being
rather amused on the journey by the sudden stoppage of the train, which
had been crawling along at about ten miles an hour, followed by the
leisurely exit of the conductor and engine driver each with a gun on his
shoulder, who calmly disappeared across the prairie on a gunning
expedition. After about an hour's delay the sportsmen returned fairly
successful, and with "all aboard" we resumed our journey.

A few days subsequently I witnessed a sad sight—the execution of a
deserter, a fine fellow, sergeant of artillery, whose only offence was
that he had crossed the Mississippi into the Northern lines in order to
visit his wife and family, intending, it was believed, to return; he was
captured, however, and condemned to death by court-martial, and the
whole of the garrison of Galveston was paraded to witness his execution.
It was an anxious time for the authorities, as it was expected that his
battery would attempt a rescue, so the other two batteries were drawn up
opposite with guns loaded ready to fire on it if it did. The sergeant
was led out, and six men were placed a few paces in front of him; after
refusing to have his eyes bandaged, he dropped his hand as a signal for
them to fire; a report as from one rifle rang out, and he dropped on his
face dead. The saddest part of this incident was, that within an hour of
his execution a pardon arrived from headquarters at Houston on a railway
trolly; no locomotive being available four men had worked the trolly
down, but too late.

Finding that the accumulation of cargo and consequent loading of the
_Banshee_ would occupy a long time, and owing to the critical state of
affairs in the South rendering it absolutely necessary for me to return
to Nassau as soon as possible, I decided to take a passage in a friend's
blockade-runner then ready to start, leaving my able lieutenant Frank
Hurst to settle up things and come out in the _Banshee_. But I did not
like it at all; it was the first time I was to try the venture in a
strange craft and as a mere passenger, and from what I had seen of the
skipper I had not over much confidence in him.

On a night which was eminently suited for the purpose we made a start,
but no sooner did we get down to the Tripod, which marked the entrance
to the channel, than we made out a couple of the blockaders—a sight
quite enough for the nerves of our captain, who declared we should
certainly be seen and immediately gave orders to turn back. This was not
my idea of blockade-running as I had been accustomed to it, but being a
passenger I had no _locus standi_ on board; we put back to the harbour
and next morning were well chaffed. To make a long story short we made a
second attempt next night with like results, and I was beginning to feel
thoroughly disgusted. Every hour's delay with a growing moon now
increased our risks; on the third night, by dint of goading the skipper,
whose coal was running short, I persuaded him to harden his heart and
make a run for it. When we reached the Tripod we made out several of the
squadron, but we put our helm a-starboard, ran along the land, and
fortunately got clear.

Crossing the Gulf of Mexico we made out nothing; perhaps this was
because no look-out was kept; and mightily glad I was when we made the
coast of Cuba and steamed into Havana. This trip was certainly a
revelation to me as regards blockade-running, and no wonder many a fine
boat, navigated, no doubt, on the same lines as the —— had been thrown
away.

This was my last trip, the twenty-eighth—a record, I think, for any
Englishman during the war, and considering the narrow squeaks that I
had, and that I only came to grief once in the _Night Hawk_, I had a
great deal to be thankful for.

Upon my arrival in Havana I found the mail boat was starting for Nassau
next day, and in her I took my passage. I found Nassau much changed, as
during my absence Wilmington, after an heroic defence of Fort Fisher by
my old friend Lamb, had been captured, and had it not been for the
supineness (not to use a stronger phrase) of General Bragg, who
commanded the Confederate forces outside the fort and who failed to
attack the Northern attacking force in the rear when the assault was
made, Lamb's second defence would have been as successful as the first,
and Fort Fisher and Wilmington would have been saved to the Confederate
Government—a result which might have had a very important bearing upon
the issue of the struggle. Wilmington and Charleston being now closed,
Nassau's days as a blockade-running centre were over, and the only thing
to do was to wind up our affairs as well as we could, and prepare to go
home. Even then it was evident that the game was up as far as the South
was concerned, and very shortly afterwards we heard of Lee's surrender
and the virtual ending of the war.

In the interim the _Banshee_ arrived, having cleared out of Galveston
without trouble and transhipped her cargo at Havana, which, although the
war was over, sold for very high prices in Liverpool. But the
liquidation of our affairs generally was a disastrous one; our steamers
were practically valueless; and as a matter of fact the _Banshee_ and
_Night Hawk_, which I sent home, and which had cost between them some
£70,000, we sold for £6000; two or three other boats which I sent to
South America for sale realised miserable prices, so that this, combined
with the enormous stakes we had imprisoned in the South, and which were
confiscated, took the gilt considerably off our gingerbread.

It had been an exciting and eventful period, however, and had I gone
through it again with the experience I had gained in the trade, I could
have made large fortunes for my employers and myself; but in the early
part of the war, when the Northerners owing to want of ships could only
blockade the Southern ports in a half-hearted way, we let our golden
opportunity slip in trying to work with indifferent tools, _i.e._ slow,
worn-out, heavy-draught steamers, and it was not until almost too late
that my friends at home woke up and sent me out a better class of boat.
By that time the blockade had become most stringent, and to evade it was
an affair involving a tremendous risk, even with the fastest and best
equipped vessels and commanded by the most daring men.

After closing up my affairs in Nassau I returned home for, what I think
I deserved, a well-earned rest; and I am sure I needed it, as the hard
life I had led, combined with the after effects of yellow fever and
fever and ague, had played havoc with my nervous system. This trouble
quiet life in England soon put right, and in a few months I found myself
bound for India as a partner in the house in Bombay, with quite a
different life to look forward to, but very pleasant recollections of
the experience I had gained and the good friends I had made. The death
rate, however, among those friends has lately been heavy, and there are
very few left (I think, sad to relate, Murray-Aynsley and Frank Hurst
now only remain) of the good comrades, who would always have stood by
each other in any difficulty or danger.



                              CHAPTER XII

                  BLOCKADES OF THE PAST AND THE FUTURE

   Present compared with past conditions—Lessons of former
       blockades—Plan of the Northern States—Action of the
       Gulf-stream—Search-lights; their value to blockaders and
       blockaded—Quick-firing guns—Speed of modern ships as affecting
       a blockade—National character—Battle-ships and cruisers.


Although it is extremely improbable that the world will ever again
witness a war carried on under conditions similar to those obtaining in
the contest carried on between the North and South in the sixties, still
it is possible, as recent events have shown, that the United States
might find themselves involved in a struggle with a first-rate maritime
Power. If this were the case, the first step to be taken by that Power
would be to blockade the United States ports. This being so, it is
interesting to consider how, owing to increased speed, quick-firing
guns, and search-lights, the relationships between blockaders and
blockade-runners have been affected during the last thirty years.

In the civil war the conditions were very different from those likely to
occur in the future; the blockade-runners of those days were unarmed,
and their business was to dodge, not to fight, the blockaders, and the
shortness of the run before a safe port could be reached made possible a
heavy outlay for building and maintaining special vessels. But to my
mind the most salient alteration in the conditions affecting the
question is the introduction of quick-firing guns, search-lights, and
increased speed.

Before considering the effect of these changes on the future of
blockading, it will be as well to ascertain what lessons were learnt
from the blockade of the American coast.

We soon discovered that with due care and pluck the risk was far less
than people believed; except in a few cases our losses were caused by
ignorance of position in making the port. In some cases this was owing
to the fact of our being chased about by day; in others it was caused by
the irregular action of the Gulf-stream; and in some cases it was due to
neglect and want of care in keeping a proper look-out at daylight; also
to not keeping clear of vessels when seen, and to steaming too fast when
not necessary, thereby causing smoke, which discovered to the blockaders
the position of the runner. Discovery (after taking all possible
precautions) by a faster vessel was the cause of a small minority of
captures.

Again, the blockade was carried on on a wrong principle. The Northern
plan was,—to keep a number of ships close off the port, as a rule
anchoring by day and by night moving close in, and a few ships at a
moderate distance from the land. This plan enabled runners to lie out a
fair distance from the shore at sunset so as to run in when the time
came, having the whole night before them should they be seen. On coming
out, we felt that after the first ten miles or so from the shore there
was little chance of anything seeing us before daylight, and if we were
seen then the inshore squadron could not join in the chase.

Off Bermuda I rarely saw a cruiser; off the Bahamas there were three or
four, but not well placed; at sea most of the cruisers were in pairs, as
far as I could make out; so that their limit of vision was only that of
one, and in such a case there is always the possibility of the one
trusting to the other to keep a good look-out.

The action of the Gulf-stream was an important factor in the
calculations which the blockade-runners had to take into consideration.
Its rate is so uncertain, that unless you had taken a sight the day
before you got in you could not depend upon your position, and although
it could be verified by the soundings it could not be laid down by them
alone. Star observation, from the uncertain horizon, could not be
depended upon, and the moon of course was not available; on the other
hand, the general haze was in our favour.

That in the future there will ever be a similar blockade is improbable;
it will be one of armed ships against armed ships, and the only
exception, if it can be called running a blockade, will be that of armed
merchant-ships bringing food to England, which will be required to meet
cruisers on the open sea, and not to run in and out of a blockaded port.

I will now take up the three points of speed, quick-firing guns, and
search-lights.

To begin with search-lights: on first thoughts the search-light would
appear to be a formidable weapon in the hands of the blockader; but on
consideration I don't think it is so, excepting perhaps in the case of a
runner being chased at night, or into the night, by a cruiser of equal
or superior speed which could, by means of her search-light, keep her
quarry under observation, and, if within range, perhaps speedily sink
her. In the dash through an inside squadron lying off a port this would
not apply. True, it would be very uncomfortable for the blockade-runner
to find herself within the sphere of a dozen search-lights all around
her, but it would be equally uncomfortable for the ships exhibiting
those lights were they within range of the protecting fort, as they
would most probably immediately be plugged by its guns. Moreover, a fort
supplied with search-lights could be constantly flashing them over the
area comprised within the range of its guns, and this would tend to
force a blockading fleet to keep at a more respectable distance and so
widen out and render the passage between its lines more easy for the
blockade-runner.

The introduction of the search-light therefore appears to me to be in
favour of the runner. I assume that the light is in use at the port from
which the runner starts and is protected by guns. As most likely it will
be at fixed points, and as there can be no object for secrecy in its
use, it can be flashed from time to time irregularly so as to show
whether the vicinity of the port is clear of hostile cruisers or not. No
cruiser will care to come within range of the light; consequently the
runner will have the advantage of seeing his road is clear before him
when he starts, and the further out the cruisers are, the further apart,
given equal numbers, must they be.

On the other hand, the blockader wishes to keep his position dark and
will not use his light for fear of being seen; so it is useless to him.
Again, a light on the Mound at Fort Fisher would have been invaluable to
us; the light thrown up into the air would have been of no use to the
blockader, while to us it would have fixed the position and enabled us
to run in with confidence. For my part, if in command of a blockader,
unless it was to call friends to my assistance, I would prefer not to
use the light.

The present condition of affairs with regard to quick-firing guns and
the armament of modern war-vessels, in my opinion, would be distinctly
in favour of the blockader. Seeing how many more of this description of
gun are carried by our modern ships compared with the slow-firing
old-fashioned guns of thirty years ago, to say nothing of their
increased range and accuracy, I fear a blockade-runner would stand a
poor chance if she allowed herself to come within the range of the guns
of a cruiser so armed, at all events in daylight. Of course at night,
and if she were within the range of the guns of a protecting fort, her
chances would be more equally balanced; as the fort would be supplied
with similar guns to those of her assailants, and would doubtless use
them with effect. I am of the opinion, therefore, that the modern gun is
distinctly in favour of the blockader as compared with the runner. The
report of the quick-firing gun is much sharper and the flash much more
brilliant than that of the old-fashioned gun; and this constitutes an
additional element in favour of the blockader, for the report and flash,
being heard and seen at a greater distance, would call any neighbouring
cruiser to the blockader's assistance.

Though the increase of speed attained by modern ships affects both
sides, the enormous speed now developed by cruisers and torpedo
destroyers would seem at first sight to give the blockading force a
distinct advantage. But if war-vessels have improved their speed
merchant-steamers have done the same; and, as I have pointed out in
previous chapters, the blockade-runner has several points in her favour
by always being in good going condition and on the alert, whereas the
blockader cannot always have steam handy or be ready for the advent of
the runner on the scene. If, however, the maritime Power in question
could afford a large number of exceedingly fast cruisers and torpedo
catchers to be constantly patrolling the seas adjacent to the blockaded
ports, and could keep those vessels supplied with coals, I think the
runner's chances of success would be materially reduced under the new
regime. But could this be done, seeing the difficulty there would be of
procuring coal and supplies from perhaps a distant base? There is one
factor resulting from increased speed which certainly is in favour of
the runner; that is, in consequence of her being at sea a shorter time
while making her hazardous passage, her risk is diminished. And this is
a material point. In the olden days it was considered a fast passage if
the distance between Wilmington and Nassau, which now could be traversed
in some thirty hours, was covered in fifty. On the whole, therefore,
increased speed is in favour of the runner. Speed requires coal, and a
man who knows what he has to do can economise coal to an extent
unattainable by the man whose movements are uncertain. He can be either
going full speed with clear fires, or be ready for it to a greater
extent than a man who is waiting until his speed is required. As
probably in the future there will not be short runs from shallow ports,
the runner can be of a size equal to, if not greater than, the
blockader; consequently, unless in smooth water, more likely to attain
greater speed.

A point of great importance, which should not be overlooked, is the
effect of national character. In the American war, with the exception of
one or two Danes, all the officers and crews of the runners were either
British or Southerners. It is a question whether any other European
State would show sufficient spirit of enterprise to carry a blockade on
a large scale to a successful issue. What is wanted in blockade-runners
is not only capable leaders, but a large number of people who will trust
each other and their leaders.

Hitherto I have only considered the question of evading a superior force
outside, and of being prepared to run and not to fight unless necessary.
A fleet, if going to sea, ought to go by day and fight its way out. A
squadron of cruisers, on the other hand, may find it advisable to slip
out night by night and meet at a given distant rendezvous, at the same
time being prepared to act on their own individual account if necessary;
_i.e._ if they find that the chance of the original plan cannot be
carried out. Ships of the line of battle cannot do this. They must in
all probability fight together or fail, as their not being able to come
out without fighting shows that there is a fleet of battle ships
outside. If equal powers are inside and out, I do not think that any
blockade can be made effective; the chances of breaking a modern
blockade compared with those which existed in the sixties are much the
same, provided the runner has the proper tools to work with, in the
shape of speedy and seaworthy steamers commanded and manned by
determined and cautious men.



                                 INDEX

 Abaco lighthouse, 83

 _Alabama_, the, 7, 8, 78

 American Civil War, outbreak of, 1

 Arab horse, an, 97, 98, 99

 _Astoria_, the, 30

 Avery, Mrs., 159

 Azores, gale off the, 20


 Bahamas, the, 24, 27, 39, 48, 82, 169

 _Banshee_, the, 33, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 47, 48,
   51, 59, 64, 67, 68, 69, 70, 73, 84, 93, 114, 115
   breakdown of, 71
   capture of, 85
   crew of, 34
   defects of, 35
   engines of, 47
   fire on, 76, 77
   open house on, 65
   precautions on, 50
   total loss of, 85

 _Banshee_ No. 2, the, 85, 98, 99, 100, 101, 124, 137, 139,
   141, 143, 148, 150, 151, 157, 160, 161, 163, 164

 Baton Rouge, 159

 Bayley, Mrs., 88

 Bermuda, 24, 39, 115, 117, 129, 169

 Big Hill, the, 53

 Blockade, declaration, 3
   experts, 28
   lessons of the, 167

 Blockaders and blockade-runners, 167

 Blockade-running, excitement of, 49
   profits of, 10, 69, 85
   risks of, 10

 Blockades of the future, 169

 Blockading fleet, the, 6

 Bragg, General, 163

 Branchville, 137

 British Government, attitude of, 9, 39

 British merchants, Southern sympathies of, 38

 Burgoyne, Captain Hugh, V.C., 59, 89, 91

 Burroughs, Pilot, 43, 51, 52, 53, 75, 117

 Butler, General, 133


 Cape Fear, 49

 Cape Fear Club, 63

 Cape Fear river, 44, 47, 58

 Cape Hatteras, 4, 85

 Capper, Captain, 101, 102, 108, 109

 _Captain_, H.M.S., 59, 89, 91

 Captures, 12

 Charleston, 24, 25, 28, 38, 117, 137, 163
   ships blockading, 6
   trade of, 25

 Chase, a weary, 81

 City Point, 58

 Clawson, Mr. T. W., 61

 Collie and Co., Alexander, 26

 Commerce destroyers, 7

 Confederate fleet, the, 6, 7, 8
   ports, 11
   states, trade of, 18

 _Congress_, the, 7

 Craig's Landing, 60, 62

 Crawford, Mr., 146

 Cuba, 145, 162

 _Cumberland_, the, 7

 Curtis, General, 57, 61, 62, 63


 Danville, 135, 140

 Davis, Mr. Jefferson, 97

 Deserter, execution of a, 159

 _Despatch_, the, 17, 30
   breakdown of, 19, 20
   cargo on, 17, 19
   condemned, 28
   in quarantine, 30
   reaches Nassau, 20
   release of, 32
   seizure of, 31
   start of, 19
   yellow fever on board, 30

 Dinner bill, a, 139

 Dixie, 58

 Doering, Mr. Arthur, 88, 89, 94, 96

 _Don_, the, 90


 Erskine, chief engineer, 42, 77, 78, 81, 82

 _Eugénie_, the, 76


 _Falcon_, the, 124, 128

 Farragut, Admiral, 8

 Fastnet, the, 35

 Federal Navy, inadequacy of the, 8

 _Florida_, the, 7

 Fort Caswell, 111, 112

 Fort Fisher, 46, 48, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 60, 61,
   67, 73, 99, 103, 113, 114, 116, 140, 141, 163

 Fort Lafayette, 85

 Fraser, Trenholm and Co., 26

 Freight charges, 18

 Funchal Bay, 38


 Galveston, 25, 44, 111, 148, 150, 151,
   152, 153, 157, 159, 160, 163

 Galveston Bay, 157

 Game-cock, a, 100

 Georgia, 137

 _Georgia_, the, 7

 Grace Church, 57

 _Great Eastern_, the, 59

 Greenough or Greenhow, Mrs. Rose, 60, 128

 Gulf-stream, action of the, 169


 Halifax, 115

 Halpin, Captain, 59, 76, 77

 Hamilton, 116

 Hampton Roads, 7

 Harper, Captain John, 63

 Harper's Ferry, 57

 Havana, 25, 145, 146, 148, 149, 154, 162, 164

 Heiliger, Mr., 97, 133

 Hewett, Captain, afterwards Admiral, V.C., 59, 89, 91, 124, 125

 Hicks Pasha, 89

 Hobart Pasha, 59, 89, 90
   Mrs., 87, 89

 Hoke, General, 134

 Holcombe, Professor, 60

 Houston, 158, 159, 160

 Hurst, Mr. Frank, 88, 90, 115, 148, 154, 158, 161, 165


 Infernal machine, an, 129

 International Exhibition, the, 9

 Irishman, a resourceful, 121


 James _Adger_, the, 78, 80, 84

 James river, the, 135, 136

 John Brown raid, the, 57

 Joint Stock Companies, establishment of, 93


 Lafitte, Mr. J. B., 26

 Lamb, Col. William, 55, 56, 57, 61, 62, 63,
   67, 75, 99, 104, 118, 125, 137, 163
   Mrs., 56, 57

 Lawley, Hon. Francis, 59

 Lee, General, 135, 137
   army of, 137, 139, 163

 Lincoln, President, 2, 3, 8

 Liquidation, a disastrous, 164

 Liverpool, 33
   confederate vessel in, 17
   feeling in, 3, 10

 Loading, reckless, 66

 Look-out man, pay of the, 48


 Madeira, 36

 Maffitt, Captain, 42

 Magruder, General, 157

 May, Mr., 126

 _Merrimac_, the, 7, 8

 Mexico, Gulf of, 149, 162

 _Minnesota_, the, 67

 Mississippi, the, 159

 Mobile, 7, 8, 25

 _Monitor_, the, 7

 Murray-Aynsley, Admiral, 59, 79, 81, 83, 90, 92, 165
   Mrs., 87, 89


 Nassau, 20, 22, 23, 24, 27, 38, 39, 40, 43, 44, 47,
   69, 80, 82, 101, 109, 114, 115, 129, 131, 133, 140,
   141, 145, 146, 147, 149, 160, 162, 163, 165, 174
   agencies at, 24
   freight charges at, 18
   life at, 86-100
   yellow fever at, 96, 97

 National character, 175

 New Orleans, 25

 New Providence, 20

 New York, 30

 _Night Hawk_, the, 59, 116, 117, 118, 126, 162, 164
   boarded by Northerners, 120
   on fire, 121, 122, 123

 _Niphon_, the, 74

 Norfolk Navy Yard, 5, 7

 Norfolk, surrender of, 57

 North Breaker shoal, the, 54, 73, 119

 North, policy of the, 29

 "Norther," a, 149, 150, 154

 Northerners, energy of the, 5
   fleet of the, 5
   views of, as to belligerents, 36


 _Oreto_, the, 42

 Orton, 58


 Paris, Congress at, 4

 Petersburg, 133, 135

 Plimsoll Act, the, 16

 Port Royal, 30

 Porter's fleet, admiral, 60, 140, 141, 142

 Portman, Mr. Maurice, 89

 Potomac river, 4

 Power, Mr. Tom, 64

 Providence, 57


 Quarantine, 97

 Queenstown, 20, 35

 Quick-firing guns, 172


 Race, a ding-dong, 79

 Randolph, General, 142
   Mrs., 143

 _Rappahanock_, the, 8

 Rhode Island, 57

 Richmond, 44, 98, 128, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 140
   privations in, 138

 Rio Grande, the, 4

 "Roberts," Captain, 59, 90, 91

 Royal Proclamation, reception of a, 9


 St. John, 32

 Savannah, 42

 Search-lights, 170, 171

 Seceding States, seaboard of, 4

 _Shenandoah_, the, 7

 Sherman, General, 137

 Smith's Inlet, 118

 Smith's Island, 45

 Somnambulism, 20, 21

 South, acknowledgment of the, as belligerents, 3
   partisan leaning towards, 12

 _Southern Historical Papers_, extract from, 57

 Southern Ports, blockade of the, 3
   cargo suitable for, 18
   States, secession of, 2
   traders, 26

 Southerners, Navy of the, 6, 7

 Speed of vessels, 173

 Stanton, Mr. Secretary, 58

 Steele, Captain, 41, 42, 51, 52, 53, 67, 76,
   78, 79, 82, 85, 89, 109, 113, 152, 154

 _Stormy Petrel_, the, 114

 Stowaway, a, 80

 Suakim, Admiral Hewett, V.C., at, 91

 _Sumpter_, the, 8


 _Tallahasse_, the, 8

 Taylor, Mr. Tom, 59

 Tennessee, 137

 _Tennessee_, the, 8

 Texas, 158

 _Trent_ affair, the, 13, 39

 _Trent_, the, 13

 Tripod, the, 161, 162

 _Tristram Shandy_, the, 94, 95

 _Tubal Cain_, the, 42


 United States, fleet of the, 4
   Mercantile Navy of the, 8


 _Venus_, the, 92

 Virginia, 140

 Vizitelly, Mr. Frank, 59, 89


 War, end of the, 163

 Washington, 58, 85

 Watson, Mr. L. G., 26, 89

 Whiting, General, 60, 62

 Whitworth guns, Colonel Lamb's, 56, 137

 _Wild Dayrell_, the, 111, 114
   loss of, 113

 _Wild Rover_, the, 114, 141

 Wilkes, Captain, afterwards Admiral, 13, 14, 39, 40

 _Will-o'-the-wisp_, the, 101, 114, 144, 151
   ashore, 105
   destruction of, 111
   on fire, 106
   sale of, 110

 Wilmington, 24, 25, 38, 43, 44, 45, 47, 58,
   64, 66, 80, 83, 92, 95, 102, 106, 115,
   117, 125, 127, 128, 131, 132, 137, 139,
   140, 142, 145, 148, 149, 157, 163, 174
   ships blockading, 6
   ship-building at, 8
   trade of, 25
   yellow fever at, 96, 97

 Wilmington Bar, 46, 118

 _Wilmington_, the, 63

 _Wilmington Messenger_, extract from the, 61

 Wood, Mr. Henry, 63


 Yellow Fever, 96



                                THE END


            _Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_


[Illustration: Map of the East Coast of North America]



                           TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE


The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the
public domain.

Punctuation has been normalized.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were maintained.

Italicized words and phrases are presented by surrounding the text with
_underscores_.





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