There was intrigue aboard the NCS Beaufort. Following the skirmish with the USS Albatross at Oregon Inlet on 21 July 1861, the Beaufort traveled to Elizabeth City to fill her water tanks and to make repairs to her machinery. They arrived on the 25th at 4:00 PM. The next day was an eventful one: a disgruntled fireman tried to sabotage the propeller shaft, a crewman was discharged for cowardly behavior, and a seaman deserted while anchored off Elizabeth City.
The officer writing the log entries, a Mr. Young, did not want the fireman eating with his mess. He described him as a “worthless drunken fireman acting as 2nd assistant engineer.” The fireman, Andrew T. Dunbar, took offense. He demanded to be discharged. Mr. Young refused unless Dunbar forfeited the pay owed him. The senior engineer put Dunbar in charge of moving the Beaufort 1/2 mile above Elizabeth City to the watering place. After doing this, Dunbar tried to disconnect the shaft in such a way that it would work it’s way out once they resumed moving. He was unsuccessful, but did do considerable damage. Dunbar jumped ship and headed to Norfolk before his sabotage was discovered.
Joseph A. Mann, a seaman, “became dissatisfied with the near approach of the enemy balls in the late engagement and I wanted no coward on board” wrote 1st Master Young in the log. Mann was discharged. Another seaman, W. H. Allen, deserted during the night while lying off Elizabeth City. The abstracted log entry for the day? “Elizabeth City, NC. Getting engine in order, making repairs, etc.” Now you know the rest of the story.