Monthly Archives: December 2008

CAPTURE OF THE GREYHOUND.–

Pollard, in his observations in the North, gives the following account of the capture and the events preceding it.

On the night of the 9th of May, 1864, the Greyhound was lying off Fort Fisher, the signalmen blinking at each other with their lights in sliding boxes. It was necessary to get a dispensation from the fort for the Greyhound to pass out to sea, as no less than three fugitive conscripts–“stowaways”–had been found aboard of her. Two of them were discovered on searching the vessel at Wilmington. But lower down the stream the vessel is overhauled again, and goes through the process of the fumigation of her hold to discover improper passengers. In the case of the Greyhound, to the intense disgust of the captain, and excerations of the crew, the process brought to light an unhappy stowaway, who was recognized as a liquor-dealer of Wilmington, and made no secret of his design to flee the conscription. After the threat, and apparently serious preparations, to throw him overboard, the “stowaway” was, no doubt, relieved to find himself taken ashore to the comparative mercies of the enrolling officer.

At last we are off. The moon is down; the steward has had orders to kill the geese and shut up the dog; the captain has put on a suit of dark clothes; every light is extinguished, every word spoken in a whisper, and the turn of the propeller of the Greyhound sounds like the beat of a human heart. There is an excitement in these circumstances. the low, white-gray vessel glides furtively through the water, and you catch the whispered commands of the captain: “stead-ey,” and then the more intense and energetic whisper, “Black smoke, by G–; cut off your smoke.” Every eye is strained into the shadows of the night. But how utterly useless did all this precaution and vigilance appear on the Greyhound; for after two hours of suspense we were out of the blockade lines, and had seen nothing but the caps of the waves. A blockade for blockheads, surely, I thought as I composed myself to sleep, dismissing entirely from my mind all terrors of the Yankee.

It was about two o’clock the next day, and the Greyhound was about one hundred and fifty miles out at sea, when the lookout reported a steamer astern of us. The day was hazy, and when the vessel was first descried, she could not have been more than five or six miles astern of us. For a few moments there was a sharp suspense; perhaps the steamer had not seen us; every one listened with breathless anxiety, as the tall fellow at the mast-head reported the discoveries he was making, through his glasses, of the suspicious vessel. “He is bearing towards a bark, sir;” and for a few moments hope mounted in our hearts that we might not have been observed, and might yet escape into the misty obscurity of the sea. In vain. “He is a side-wheel steamer, and is bearing directly for us, sir.”

“Give her her way,” shouted the captain in response; and there was a tumultuous rush of the crew to the engine-room, and the black smoke curling above the smoke-stack, and the white foam in our wake told plainly enough that the startled Greyhound was making desperate speed.

But she was evidently no match for the Yankee. We were being rapidly overhauled, and in something more than an hour from the beginning of the chase, a shell from the Yankee vessel, the “Connecticut,” was whistling over our bows. The crew became unruly; but captain “Henry,” revolver in hand, ordered back the man to the revolver in hand, ordered back the man to the wheel, declaring “he was master of the vessel yet.” The mate reported that a very small crew appeared to be aboard the Yankee. “Then we will fight for it,” said the spunky captain. But the madness of such a resolution became soon manifest; for as the Connecticut overhauled us more closely, her decks and wheel-houses were ween to be black with men, and a shell which grazed our engine, warned us that we were at the mercy of the enemy. But for that peculiar nuisance of blockade-runners–woman passengers–the Greyhound might have been burnt, and the last duty performed in the face of the rapacious enemy.

Dizzy, and disgusted with sea-sickness; never supposing that a vessel which had passed out of the asserted lines of blockade without seeing a blockader, without being pursued from those lines, and already far out on the sacred highway of the ocean, and flying the British ensign, could be the subject of piratical seizure; never dreaming that a simple confederate passenger could be the victim of kidnapping on the high seas, outside of all military and territorial lines, I had but a dim appreciation of the exciting scenes on the Greyhound in the chase. Papers, memoranda, packages of Confederate bonds, were ruthlessly tossed into the purser’s bag to be consumed by the flames in the engine-room; the contents of trunks were wildly scattered over the decks; the white waves danced with ambrotypes, souvenirs, and the torn fragments of the large package of letters, missives of friendship, records of affection, which had been entrusted to me, and which I at last unwillingly gave to the sea.

Here, at last, close alongside of us, in the bright day, was the black, guilty thing, while from her sides were pushing out boats, with well-dressed crews in lustrous uniforms, and officers in the picturesqueness of gold and blue–a brave sight for grimy confederates! The Greyhound was no sooner boarded, than an ensign, who had his hair parted in the middle, and his hands encased in lavender-colored kids, came up to me and asked me with a very joyous air how many bales of cotton were on board the vessel. I afterwards understood that, from my disconsolate looks, he had taken me to be the owner of the cotton, and was probably desirous, by his amiable question, to give a sly pinch to my misery.

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AN INCIDENT IN THE CARS.–

In a car on a railroad which runs into New York, a scene occurred which will never be forgotten by the witnesses of it. A person dressed as a gentleman, speaking to a friend across the car, said, “Well, I hope the war may last six months longer. If it does, I shall have made enough to retire from business. In the last six months I’ve made a hundred thousand dollars–six months more and I shall have enough.”

A lady sat behind the speaker, and necessarily heard his remark; but when he was done she tapped him on the shoulder, and said to him: “Sir, I had two sons–one was killed at the battle of Fredericksburg, the other was killed at the battle of Murfreesboro.”

She was silent a moment, and so were all around who heard her. Then, overcome by her indignation, she suddenly slapped the speculator, first on one cheek, and then on the other, and before the fellow could say a word, the passengers sitting near, who had witnessed the whole affair, seized him, and pushed him hurriedly out of the car, as one not fit to ride with decent people.

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INCIDENT OF STURGIS’S EXPEDITION.–

The main body of Sturgis’s command halted at Salem, and a detachment of 300 men were sent out to reconnoitre the road to Ripley, a little town about twenty miles south-west of Corinth, Miss. When within a few miles of that place the advance guard of the detachment came upon and captured a squad of half-a-dozen rebel cavalry without firing a gun. As is customary, the prisoners were closely examined with a view to eliciting such information of the enemy’s whereabouts and intentions as they might be able to give.

A gaunt, stringy-haired man, who seemed to be the leader of the rebel party, was conducted to the officer in command of our advance.

“What regiment do you belong to?” asked the officer.

“I wont tell,” was the pointed reply of the rebel.

“How far is it to Ripley?” was the next question.

“”Don’t know,” answered the man, sullenly.

“Who is your commander?”

“Wont tell.”

“How far off is the command to which you belong?” still inquired the persevering Federal, pretending not to notice the crusty demeanor of his prisoner.

Here the rebel informed him, in terms that would not be altogether comely in print, that he would see him in a much hotter region than Mississippi before he would tell him anything at all.

“Very well,” said the officer, drawing and cocking a revolver; “I will send you there to wait for me.”

“You may shoot me if you want to,” said the plucky Confederate, “but you will be sorry for it.”

“Why?”

“Because there is a hundred men over yonder in the woods, and if they hear you shoot they will come up and murder every man of you.”

“Well,” said the officer, “since you have told me just what I wanted to find out, I guess I won’t shoot you;” and in thirty minutes the whole hundred men were prisoners also.

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INDIAN STRATEGY.–

One of the Fourteenth New York Artillery–a Seneca Indian, undertook on a wager, to bring in alive a rebel sharpshooter who was perched in a tree in front of the Union lines at Petersburg, considerably in advance of his own. His manner of accomplishing this was as ingenious as successful. Procuring a quantity of pine boughs, he enveloped himself with them from head to foot, attaching them securely to a branch, which he lashed lengthwise of his body. When completed, he was indistinguishable to a casual observer from the surrounding foliage, and resembled a tree as closely as it was possible for his really artistic efforts to render him. Thus prepared, and with musket in hand, concealed likewise, he stole by almost imperceptible movements to beneath the tree where the sharpshooter was lodged. Here he patiently waited until his prey had emptied his piece at one of our men, when he suddenly brought his musket to bear on the “reb,” giving him no time to reload. The sharpshooter was taken at a disadvantage. To the demand to come down he readily assented, when the Indian triumphantly marched him a prisoner into camp and won his wager.

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