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Adventure of the

May flower.




The Enemy at Port Royal Ferry.


only two balls cutting into | Beaufort, at the intersec-
tion of the Beaufort and
Coosaw rivers, was com-
manded by Confederate guns.
ments were thrown up, and every preparation
made to dispute any crossing at that point.
On the last day of December an expedition
designed to dislodge the enemy was started.
It was composed of four gunboats, under
general command of Captain Raymond Rog-
ers, and Stevens' brigade, with two addition-
al regiments ordered up from Hilton Head.
This powerful demonstration caused the ene-
my to retire after a brief artillery skirmish.
leaving the ferry open to occupation at any
time. The Confederates destroyed their works
before retiring.

the steamer's upper words. She finally grounded when nearing the ferry at Beaufort island, and lay there an hour in momentary expectation of attack. Seeing her peril three boats, filled with men from the New York Seventy-ninth (Highlanders) volunteers, put out to the rescue. A section of a battery opened on the boats, but did not succeed in sinking them. They reached the steamer in safety-the Rhode Islanders' howitzer, in the meantime, pitching shell into the rebels, keeping them at a respectful distance. Reenforcements from the Eighth Michigan came up and effectually covered the steamer until she was extricated from her peril.

Important Gunboat


A series of important reconnoissances, projected by Commodore Dupont, occurred during the week, Dec. 15-22. It was executed by the gunboats Pawnee and Seneca, piloted by the little steamer Vixen, under command of Captain Boutelle, of the Coast Survey corps-the expedition being under the direction of Commander Percival Drayton, of the Pawnee, It proceeded up the coast to the mouth of the North Edisto river, where the negroes represented a strong battery to have been located. The work was discovered on Wardlaw island and fire opened on it; but, no answer being made, the small boats pulled ashore to find it deserted and partially destroyed. The gunboats penetrated several miles up the Edisto, discovering another silent fortification and securing a rebel schooner with her load of cotton and provisions. An encampment was found, from which four or five hundred brave defenders had fled ingloriously, leaving much camp and private property behind-all of which was appropriated, together with a store house filied with bacon and hominy. The work of observation continued up to Saturday, Dec. 21st, when the expedition returned to headquarters to report the enemy's sea coast defences all abandoned in the vicinity explored. The same week the South Edisto was visited to find it also abandoned.

The enemy retained possession of the several positions guarding land approaches to the interior. Port Royal ferry, ten miles from

Sherman's Winter


Sherman, referring to his operations during the winter, said: "Efforts were effectually made to isolate Pulaski from Savannah, and all the means we were able to bring to bear on that object were put to use. Had a few gunboats been able to get into the Savannah River, our batteries would have been erected on the mud flats in time to prevent the supplying of the fort with provisions, and thus insured its fall without the slow and expensive mode of bombardment. But, as it was, its fall was thereby hastened, and a threat upon Savannahı, planned by Commodore Dupont and myself, which resulted in the quiet fall of Brunswick, Fernandina, St. Johns, and St Augustine, materially assisted. The almost herculean task of collecting, landing, and setting up the immense siege armament on Tybee, was also successfully and energetically prosecuted and about completed." As the operations here referred to extended into the spring and summer of 1862, we leave their consideration to a future chapter.

Two other expeditions were fully determined upon during September and October, namely: one upon New Orleans and one upon North Carolina. The command of the first was confided to Major-General B. F. Butlerthe other to Major-General Ambrose E. Burnside. They did not move, in force, however, until the winter was advanced; hence the record of their disasters and successes properly falls to a later date than that now under consideration.

Bombardment at
Pensacola Bay.

perceptibly the fire of Barrancas, entirely silenced

Bombardment at
Pensacola Bay.

Fort Pickens, which, all | batteries Lincoln, Cameron and Totten, principally on the batteries adjacent to the Navy Yard, those of the long summer,had frowned defiance at the half Battery Scott to Fort McRae and the lighthouse batcircle of Confederate batteries environing it, teries, and those of the fort to all. We reduced very finally opened its guns on the morning of that in the Navy Yard, and in one or two of the Nov. 22d, with the intent of punishing the other batteries the efficiency of our fire, at the close rebels for their night attack on Wilson's of the day, not being the least impaired." Camp [see page 357] and for other indignities November 22d, the bomoffered to the American flag. The steam bardment continued, with frigate Niagara and the Richmond partici❘ great effect, though the pated, with instructions to draw the fire of Fort McRae and two batteries which enfiladed Pickens' parapet guns. During the entire day of the 22d, the bombardment was terrific -the entire line of the Confederate batteries and forts answering with the greatest fury, but with little or no damage to the fort or fleet. Colonel Harvey Brown, in command of the fort and out-lying batteries, had so well banked up the walls of Pickens with sand bags as to render the enemy's shot almost harmless. The Colonel thus chronicled his first day's work :

two ships, owing to the fall of the tide, had to withdraw beyond working range. Pickens, however, did the work quite well enough. Fort McRae was silent; hence, all the strength of the heavy guns was spent upon the Navy Yard, Fort Barrancas and the intervening batteries. The Colonel's report stated:

"About three o'clock fire was communicated to one of the houses in Warrington, and shortly afterwards to the church steeple, the church and the whole village being immediately in rear of some of the rebel batteries, they apparently having placed them purposely directly in front of the largest and most valuable buildings. The fire rapidly commu

"Having invited Flag Officer McKean to co-ope-nicated to other buildings along the street until rate with me in attacking the rebels, and to which

probably two-thirds of it was consumed; and about

the same time fire was discovered issuing from the back part of the Navy Yard, probably in Wolcott, a village to the north and immediately adjoining the yard, as Warrington does on the west. Finally it penetrated to the yard, and as it continued to burn brightly all night I concluded that either in it or in Wolcott, many buildings were destroyed. Very

he gave a ready and cordial assent, I, on the morning of the 22d, opened my batteries on the enemy, to which, in the course of half an hour, he responded from his numerous forts and batteries extending from the Navy Yard to Fort McRae, a distance of about four miles, the whole nearly equi-distant from the fort, and on which line he has two fortsMcRae and Barrancas---and fourteen separate bat-heavy damage was also done to the buildings of the teries, containing from one to four guns, many of them being ten-inch columbiads and some twelve and thirteen-inch sea coast mortars, the distance varying from two thousand one hundred to two thousand nine hundred yards from this fort. At the same time of my opening, Flag Officer McKeen, in the Niagara, and Captain Ellison, in the Richmond, took position as near to Fort McRae as the depth of water would permit, but which unfortunately was not

sufficiently deep to give full effect to their powerful batteries. They, however, kept up a spirited fire on the fort and adjacent batteries during the whole

day. My fire was incessant from the time of opening until it was too dark to see, at the rate of a shot for each gun every fifteen or twenty minutes, the fire of the enemy being somewhat slower. By noon the guns of Fort McRae were all silenced but one, and three hours before sunset this fort and the adjoining battery ceased fire. I directed the guns of

yard by the avalanche of shot, shell and splinters showered unceasingly on them for two days, and being nearly fireproof, built of brick and covered with slate, I could not succeed in firing them, my hot shot nor shells having no power of igniting them."

The destruction of the town and Navy Yard was quite complete; while the lesson taught the enemy in dismantling their supposed-tobe impregnable works, served to convince the Confederate Government of the folly of keeping up their guard over Pickens. Lieutenant Slemmer's watchfulness and bravery had saved the fortress at the only moment when it could have been seized: after its reenforcement [see pages 57-67-110] it passed forever from Confederate reach so long as loyal men manned its guns.

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Importance of the

The Rebel Mission.

PERHAPS no event of the | whence the ambassadors war created a sensation so with their retinues, proprofound as that caused ceeded overland to Havana. The steamer by the arrest of the rebel commissioners, was received with great honors on her arrival Messrs. Mason and Slidell. This act at once at the Cuban capital. A public reception opened the whole question of belligerent was given her at the Tacon theatre and a rights, the right of seizure on the high seas Confederate flag presented. The ambassaand the responsibilities of nations to nations dors were waited upon, on their arrival, by by maritime usage, law and treaty. Its story H. B. M. consul, Mr. Crawford, in full dress, ever will possess an intrinsic interest from its and by him were introduced to the Capnovel and exciting circumstances; while the tain General. They remained in Havana but questions involved must render it a prece- a brief period, awaiting the departure of the dent to which all future authorities will refer English mail steamer Trent, which was to for law and international rights. We shall sail Nov. 7th, for St. Thomas, where they give it, therefore, such consideration as its were to take passage for Europe. importance deserves. Captain Charles Wilkes, of the U. S. steam sloop of war, San Jacinto, being at Cienfuegos, on the southern side of Cuba, on his return from a long cruise off the coast of Africa, heard of the presence of the rebel ministers. He at once resolved to cut off the return of the Theodora as well as to sieze the ambassadors on the high seas. In his report he gave to the Secretary of the Navy his reasons for seizure, and his authority therefor. Acting as he did without precedent or direct orders, he had to study the peculiar case in all its bearings, fruitful as he knew it must be of excitement and of "notes" between the Governments of the United States and Great Britain. He stated his procedure as follows:

The Rebel Mission.

To forward the cause of the Confederate Government at the Courts of Great Britain and France, Jefferson Davis commissioned James M. Mason of Virginia and John Slidell of Louisiana as special ambassadors. These persons sailed for Cardenas, Cuba, in the steamer Theodora, which passed out of Charleston harbor on the night of October 12th, safely eluding the blockade. The fleet steamer Nashville passed out the previous night, to draw off any watchful cruiser which might be hovering around—it having been given out by the Confederate press that the Commissioners were to sail in her. [The Nashville arrived at Southampton, England. November 21st, with a valuable cargo of cotton.

On the 19th she met and burned the American ship Harvey Birch-throwing her crew in irons, but releasing them on English soil. She disposed of her cargo and refitted at her leisure in Southampton. Her case is referred to in the foot note, page 356.] The Theodora reached Cardenas in safety, from

Captain Wilkes.

His Statement of the

"When I heard at Cienfuegos, on the south side of Cuba, of these Commissioners having landed on the Island of Cuba, and that they were at

Havana, and would depart in the English steamer of the 7th of November, I determined to intercept them, and carefully examined all authorities on international law to which I had access, viz: Kent, Wheaton, Vattel, besides the various decisions of

His Statement of the


Captain Wilkes' State ment of the Case.

Sir Wm. Scott and other Judges | Ministers to France and Engof the Admiralty Court of land, but inasmuch as they had Great Britain, which bore upon not been received by either of the rights of neutrals and their responsibilities. these Powers, I did not conceive they had immunity attached to their persons; and were but escaped conspirators plotting and contriving to overthrow the Government of the United States, and they were therefore not to be considered as having any claim to the immunities attached to the character they thought fit to assume.

The Governments of Great Britain, France and Spain having issued proclamations that the Confederate States were viewed, considered and treated as belligerents, and knowing that the ports of Great Britain, France, Spain and Holland, in the West Indies, were open to their vessels, and that they were admitted to all the courtesies and protection vessels of the United States received, every aid and attention being given them, proved clearly that they acted upon this view and decision, and brought them within the international law of search and under the responsibilities, I therefore felt no hesitation in boarding and searching all vessels of whatever nation, I fell in with, and have done so.

"The question arose in my mind whether I had the right to capture the persons of these Commissioners-whether they were amenable to capture. There was no doubt I had the right to capture vessels with written dispatches; they are expressly referred to in all authorities, subjecting the vessel to seizure and condemnation if the captain of the vessel had the knowledge of their being on board. But these gentlemen were not dispatches in the literal sense, and did not seem to come under that designation, and nowhere could I find a case in point.

"That they were Commissioners I had ample proof from their own avowal, and bent on mischievous and traitorous errands against our country-to overthrow its institutions and enter into treaties and alliances with foreign States, expressly forbidden by the Constitution.

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They had been presented to the Captain General of Cuba by her British Majesty's Consul General, but the Captain General told me he had not received them in that capacity, but as distinguished gentlemen and strangers.

"As respects the steamer in which they embarked, I ascertained in the Havana that she was a mer chant vessel plying between Vera Cruz, the Havana and St. Thomas, carrying the mail by contract.

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The agent of the vessel, the son of the British Consul at Havana, was well aware of the character of these persons, that they engaged their passage and did embark in the vessel; his father had visited them, and introduced them as Ministers of the Confederate States, on their way to England and France.

"They went in the steamer with the knowledge and consent of the captain, who endeavored afterwards to conceal them by refusing to exhibit the passenger list and the papers of the vessel. There can be no doubt he knew they were carrying highly important despatches, and were endowed with instructions inimical to the United States. This ren dered his vessel (a neutral) a good prize, and I determined to take possession of her; and, as I men. tioned in my report, send her to Key West for adjudication, where I am well satisfied she would have been condemned for carrying these persons, and for resisting to be searched; the cargo was also liable, as all the shippers were knowing to the embarka tion of these live despatches, and their traitorous motives and actions to the Union of the United States.

"I forbore to seize her, however, in consequence of my being so reduced in officers and crew, and the derangement it would cause innocent persons, there being a large number of passengers, who would have been put to great loss and inconvenience as well as disappointment from the interruption it would have caused them in not being able to join the steamer from St. Thomas for Europe. I, therefure, concluded to sacrifice the interests of my officers and crew in the prize, and suffered the steamer to proceed after the necessary detention to effect the transfer of these Commissioners, considering I had obtained the important end I had in view, and which affected the interests of our country, and interrupted the action of that of the Confederates. "I would add that the conduct of her Britannic Majesty's subjects, both official and others, showed but little regard or obedience to her proclamation, "Report and assumption gave them the title of ay aiding and abetting the views and endeavoring

"I then considered them as the embodiment of despatches, and as they had openly declared themselves as charged with all authority from the Confederate Government, to form treaties and alliances tending to the establishment of their independence, I became satisfied that their mission was adverse and criminal to the Union, and it therefore became my duty to arrest their progress and capture them, if they had no passports or papers from the Federal Government, as provided for under the law of nations, viz: That foreign ministers of a belligerent on board of neutral ships are required to possess papers from the other belligerent to permit them to

pass free.'




to conceal the persons of the Commissioners. I have pointed out sufficient reasons to show you that my action in this case was derived from a firm conviction that it became my duty to make these parties prisoners, and to bring them to the United States.

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Although in my giving up this valuable prize I have deprived the officers and crew of a well earned

reward, I am assured they are quite content to forego any advantage which might have accrued to them

under the circumstances.

"I may add that, having assumed the responsibility, I am willing to abide the result."

Arrival of the
San Jacinto.

Excitement in

for "the law," and paraded the result in extracts from Vattel, Puffendorf, Chitty, Wheaton, Kent, Martens, Sir William Scott, D'Hautefeuille. It was apparent, from the quotations given from these eminent writers, that "the law" substantially covered the justice of the seizure; but, despite all that, those familiar with the spirit of British diplomacy knew that no law or precedent would be allowed to cover the case. The most eminent The first news of the ac- jurists in the country volunteered opinions— tion of Captain Wilkes was all confirmatory of the popular view; yet, given to the public by the beneath all the assurances given, there was arrival of the San Jacinto at Fortress Monroe, an under-current of doubt and apprehension November 15th, having the ambassadors and which, as the days rolled away, became paintheir secretaries on board as prisoners. Cap- ful. That the people in their hearts approvtain Wilkes cruised up along the coast, hop-ed Wilkes' action was evident from the con ing to arrive in season to participate in the gratulatory strains of the press and from pubDupont-Sherman expedition. In this he was lic receptions tendered him. Even the Secdisappointed the blow having fallen on retary of the Navy acknowledged his services Port Royal at the moment when the look-outs in a flattering letter endorsing his course and on the San Jacinto's mast head were eyeing confirming his procedure. the old Bahama channel off the light house Paredon del Grande, for the English steamer. The prisoners were permitted to look in upon the captured port, and into Charleston on their way north. Having dispatched Captain Taylor as bearer of dispatches to Washington, Captain Wilkes steamed away to New York, where he arrived (off Sandy Hook) November 18th. Dispatches awaited him, directing that the prisoners be delivered to Colonel Dimmick, at Fort Warren, in Boston harbor. Thither they were taken, under the special charge of U. S. Marshal Murray, of New York, who accompanied the ship in the trip to Boston. The prisoners were delivered to the Fort Warren warden, November 24th, and were placed, at once, in strict confinement in excellent quarters.

Intense Feeling in

The reception of the news in England caused the most marked sensation, in public and private circles. From persons of low and high degree the act was condemned. Almost to a man the English people demanded satisfaction. The friends of the Union were, for the moment, appalled at the storm of invective and threat which met them everywhere from Edinburg to Marseilles. General Scott, at that time, was in the French capital, designing to remain in the South of Europe during the winter. His presence was opportune, for he alone of all Americans abroad could command a hearing in that tempestuous atmosphere. He at once wrote a letter to the Paris press, through the American consulate, giving assurances that the The news of this arrest seizure was not ordered from Washington produced the most intense nor premeditated by the Cabinet, and exexcitement among all class- pressed the firm conviction that all would es throughout the country. The popular be well between Great Britain and his Govvoice enthusiastically approved of Wilkes' proceedings, but the thinking few saw in it cause for serious apprehension. A British mail steamer had been rifled on the high seas— would not Great Britain resent the outrage? Journalists flew to long neglected legal tomes

Excitement in

ernment. He reviewed the act as it was pre sented through British channels, and very ably argued the case in extenuation of the seizure, leaving the two Cabinets to dispose of it in an amicable and satisfactory manner. The old chief comprehended the subject with

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