Where did the crews come from as the NC Squadron grew?

The NC Squadron added several ships after North Carolina sold her navy to the Confederacy. Among these were the Sea Bird, the Fanny, the Curlew, and the Appomatox. Sailors were already in short supply. Where would the sailors come from?

I have been compiling the NC Squadron records I have found into a large online database this past week. As I entered the Winslow and Sea Bird crew lists, I became aware anew that the majority of the Winslow crew were transferred to the Sea Bird after the Winslow sank at Ocracoke Inlet during the Prony rescue in early November. Out of 20 Winslow crewmen, 15 ended up on the Sea Bird including the Winslow’s commander, Patrick McCarrick. Up until that time Flag Officer William F. Lynch had been commanding the Sea Bird as well as the squadron.

Lynch continued to use the Sea Bird as his flagship and he had a seperate set of retainers from McCarrick. I had never noticed before, but when a commander changed ships, his steward and clerk and cook generally went with him. It makes sense, but I had never thought of it.

The Fanny had an interesting crew. Eight days after her capture, she had a crew of 31, most of whom were transfers from local infantry companies. Thirteen army transfers came from the 7th NC Volunteers’ Company E alone (the Currituck Atlantic Rifles), stationed at Fort Oregon on Pea Island near Oregon Inlet. That’s almost 1/4 of the company!

The Curlew had a crew of 8 when Flag Officer Lynch and Col. Wright decided to use her in an attempt to capture a Union transport aground at Loggerhead Inlet. 3rd Georgian soldiers temporarily provided the rest of the crew. By mid-November, six members of the 7th NC Volunteers, Company L (the State Guards), also stationed at Oregon Inlet, joined the Curlew crew. Four from Co. E that had joined the Fanny were transferred to the Curlew as well, swelling her ranks to 18.

The names of the crew of the last ship added to the fleet, the Appomattox, remains a mystery. Most likely it was crewed by 20 members of the CSS Virginia’s crew billeted on the receiving ship at Gosport awaiting the Virginia’s commissioning. French Forrest, commandant of the Gosport Navy Yard, had ordered them sent to Lynch at Roanoke Island “for the emergency”. They were commanded by Lt. Charles C. Simms. Simms, an officer from the Virginia’s crew, had been detached to Lynch at an earlier date.


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