During the last week in December, 1861, while about a dozen oyster smacks were on their way to the “banks” in Mississippi Sound, they were surrounded by a number of launches from the national ships: all were seized in the name of the Government, and a guard put aboard each to conduct them under the guns of the ships of war. One of the smacks thus seized was the “Clide,” commanded and owned by Capt. King, a man who had resided in New Orleans since boyhood, and who was well known as a brave and determined seaman by all of his acquaintances around the New Basin. A sergeant and one soldier were placed aboard the “Clide,” with orders to steer for the New London; then some twelve or eighteen miles off. The wind was ahead, and the boat had to beat all the way. The “Clide,” somehow, strange to say, worked badly; all the rest of the smacks were soon several miles ahead, and still the contrary wind was blowing, and the lazy boat dragging slowly along. So passed the greater part of the day, and at five o’clock in the afternoon the fleet was yet several miles off. The soldiers on board the “Clide” grew hungry, and asked Capt. King if he had anything to eat aboard. He politely told them that there was plenty in the cabin–a sort of little hold in the after part of the craft, reached by a narrow scuttle and two or three crooked steps. The sergeant volunteered to go down and get the victuals, directing the soldier to keep a sharp watch while he did so. He started down the steps with rifle in hand, Capt. King standing near, officiously showing the way. As soon as he had got into the cabin, and was about to stoop and go forward, the hitherto polite and kind captain suddenly seized his rifle, and jerking it from his hand, shot him dead on the spot. Not stopping to swap jack-knives, Capt. King jumped forward, and seizing the other soldier’s gun before he had time to recover from his fright and astonishment, commanded him to surrender. The soldier saw there was no use to resist, gave up, and was securely tied and laid in the hold.
Capt. King then set sail for Fort Pike, and as if understanding the necessity for haste, the little craft recovered from her languor, and sped over the water at railroad speed. And it was well she did, for the men on the other boats had heard the musket shot, and suspecting something wrong from seeing the :Clide” suddenly change her course, made chase, one and all. The affair then grew exciting, and for a while Capt. King’s chances for safety were rather squally; but his gallant little craft was in earnest, and rushed on towards the haven of safety as if she understood the whole affair. Night soon came on, and darkness hiding her from the view of her pursuers, enabled her to get safely to Fort Pike, where Capt. King recited his adventures, and excited the admiration of the garrison. Leaving the fort the next morning, he arrived in the New Basin with his prisoner and dead sergeant, who were placed in the hands of the military authorities. Besides his prisoner, Capt. King captured a fine six-oared launch, nearly new, one Minie rifle, one musket, three bayonets, one sergeant’s sword, and four cartridge boxed filled with ammunition–quite a good day’s work for a simple oysterman.
Originally posted 2008-02-28 02:07:19.