Crews of the prizes, part 3

The Brig B.T. Martin left Philadelphia on 20 July 1861, bound for Havana. She was chased and overtaken 110 miles east of Cape Hatteras on the 23rd by the privateer York, a former pilot boat out of Norfolk, Virginia. A prize crew was put on board and the Martin’s crew was taken aboard the York for the journey back to Hatteras Inlet.

The B.T. Martin carried a valuable cargo: a sugar mill and staves for barrels. Her prize crew steered for Hatteras, only to be discovered by the USS Savannah. After a 3-4 hour chase, she eluded capture when she steered straight towards the shore and cleared the bar, running ashore about 15 miles north of Cape Hatteras. The USS Union fired into her from outside the bar with her 10 inch cannon the next day, successfully setting her on fire before anything could be salvaged.

The crew was jailed in New Bern. Following the destruction of their ship, the authorities had nothing to gain by holding them. The Governor furnished each with a pass entitling them to pass unmolested through southern territory. On their return north, they were surrounded by a mob of fifty to sixty men that demanded that the “d—-d Yankees be shot, “hang the abolitionist scoundrels,” “give them tar and feathers,’ and other expressions of southern hospitality.

At one place, the mob became so powerful that the military took the crew in charge. A trial was held to please the mob. They were found not guilty and were allowed to proceed on their way. They finally reached Baltimore, where the crew of ten immediately left for New York.

The schooner Gordon fell prey to the privateer Gordon on 29 August 1861. She was bound for Philadelphia from Matamora with a load of fruit. The fate of her crew is unclear.

The Winslow’s capture of the schooner Priscilla on 31 July 1861 proved to be a disappointment. Her papers proved her to be the property of Confederate owners in Baltimore and she was released. Her cargo of 600 bushels of salt was confiscated and sold. Six passengers were aboard at the time of her capture.

The Priscilla sailed from New Bern on 12 August 1861, bound for Baltimore. Aboard were six masters and crews of prizes taken at Hatteras and Ocracoke. Included were the captains of the Nathaniel Chase, William McGilvery, Priscilla, Henry Nutt, Sea Witch, and Itasca. They arrived at Baltimore on the 18th of August.

The Henry Nutt, a 235 ton schooner, was taken 4 August 1861 by the Gordon. She carried a valuable cargo of mahogany and logwood. When the prize crew reached the deck of the Nutt, Captain Sydney Baker was still wearing his slippers. Most of his all-black crew were barefoot when they were hustled into the Gordon’s boat and carried aboard the Gordon.

After a short detention at Hatteras Inlet, Captain Baker and the wife and child of the mate were transferred to New Bern. The crew were jailed at Hatteras Inlet for a week and then shipped to New Bern, where a similar fate awaited them. On parole, the Captain, the mate, and his wife and child were allowed to board at a hotel in New Bern. Before they left on the Priscilla, they were politely requested to pay their board bill, hich the Captain did. The crew did not accompany their captain on the Priscilla.

The next victim of the privateers was the schooner Sea Witch, the second prize taken on the 4th of August by the Gordon. She was seized for public use and sunk in the Neuse River as an obstruction, as were the Nathaniel Chase and Protector. Her master and crew boarded the Priscilla on the 12th of August and arrived in Baltimore on the 18th.

The brig Itasca was also captured on 4 August 1861, the final prize of the the NCS Winslow. Carried into Hatteras Inlet, she too was seized for public use when she reached New Bern and was sunk as an obstacle in the Neuse River. Her master, Captain John Conley of Warrenton, Maine, and his crew took passage aboard the Priscilla on the 12th. Her cargo of 500 hogsheads was sold at public auction in New Bern.

The final prize taken off of Hatteras, the schooner George G. Baker, was a prize of the USS South Carolina. The York took her on the 7th of August, capturing the Union prize crew: Lt. W.A. Abbott, Quartermaster’s Mate H.N. Baxter, Seamen Benjamin R. May and Dennis Caglan, 1st Class Boy Timothy Murphy, and Stephen Johnson, a negro. She was bound for New York with a cargo of coffee and sundries when she was recaptured by the York. The crew was held at Hatteras and then sent to Richmond via Norfolk in charge of the officers of the York. It was speculated that Johnson would bring $1500-2000 as a field-hand in the Norfolk Day Book.

A prize crew from the York, Seamen Patrick McCarthy, John Williams, and James Riley plus Archibald Wilson, were placed aboard the George G. Baker. They delivered her to Hatteras Inlet. The Baker was retaken by the Union forces after the fall of the forts at Hatteras Inlet. The privateer era was over for Hatteras.


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