In Flag Officer Lynch’s official report on the capture of the Fanny, he stated, “Our crew, although few in number, worked with great alacrity. This vessel [the Curlew] was managed and fought by a crew of eight men, assisted by ten of the Georgia volunteers, who had previously trained at the battery on shore.” Who were these eight sailors?
No list of the original crew seems to exist. There does exist a payroll dated 20 November 1861. Twenty names were on the list. Which ones were the originals that fought and captured the Fanny?
The only officer with Lynch on the Curlew was Midshipman Gardner. That eliminates Commander Thomas T. Hunter, his son T.T. Hunter, Jr., and Midshipman James Crosby Long. They weren’t assigned to the Curlew until after the capture of the Fanny and the Chicamacomico Races.
As of 30 Octonber 1861, John Benton, Charles Wilson, and Jack Jones were still serving on the Edwards. While the Edwards was being overhauled at W.A. Graves Shipyard in Norfolk, part of the crew were reassigned to other ships. Sailors were in short supply. These three were assigned to the Curlew.
Lynch was constantly in search of more sailors. The legislature provided some relief by authorizing transfers from the infantry to the navy. On 4 October 1861, Joseph McKinney, William Clark, and John Midgett, stationed at Oregon Inlet, transferred from the State Guards (17th NC, Co. L) to the navy. They were joined on that same date by Ebenezer W. Sawyer from Company A. Ten down, ten possibilities remain.
Joseph Stone and Thomas Smith, members of the Currituck Atlantic Rifles (17th NC, Co. E) stationed at Oregon Inlet, are listed as transferring to the navy on or about 28 July 1861. They ended up on the Curlew in time to be listed on the 20 November 1861 payroll. No record has shown up identifying their whereabouts during September and October. Maybe they were part of the original Curlew crew. Maybe they weren’t. Eight names left.
Engineer Thomas Gurney, pilot James M. Rhodes, seaman J. L. Piver, seaman George Bromley, ordinary seamen A. J. Carson and Isaac Simpson, seaman Ben Overton, and seaman Eli Williamston were also on the 20 November 1861 Curlew payroll. None appear in the records before that date. They had the skills needed to operate a steamer. Were they the original crew?
I hate a mystery. Maybe there is something in the receiving ship records….