Where did the crews of the prizes go?

The crewmen of the brig Lydia Frances were taken prisoner by the Winslow on 12 May 1861 after being aground for six days. They were taken to Fort Hatteras, which was under construction, where they were detained until July 19th. They were then taken via New Bern to Raleigh, where they received passports and were returned to New Bern.

Upon his release, Master Daniel A. Campbell of the Transit joined Master Henry W. Penny of the Linwood, two other masters, four mates, and two boys in an open boat purchased by Penny in New Bern. They left the sounds via Oregon Inlet and were picked up by the USS Quaker City out in the Atlantic Ocean..

The second capture, the Willet S. Robbins, occurred in early June at Ocracoke Inlet. The schooner entered Ocracoke Inlet and anchored. She was captured by men from Captain Thomas Sparrow’s Washington Grays, stationed on Portsmouth Island. Her master was Robert Monroe. The June 3rd edition of the Washington Dispatch reported that the W.S. Robbins had a cargo of molasses and sugar. The schooner was enroute from the West Indies to New York at the time of her capture.

The Transit, under Master Henry Knowles, was captured on 23 June 1861 by the Winslow. She was returning in ballast to New York from Key West and Tortugas after delivering government stores to army outposts there. Henry Knowles reported that he and his crew were asked if they would join the ranks of the Rebel army or ship on board a privateer, as the Rebels were short of prize crews. One of the crew of the Transit, Antonio Servantis of Mexico, was impressed by the Winslow’s captain. Two others from the Transit, Louis Neafant and Albert Kalke, voluntarily joined the Winslow crew. Knowles, mate William Crane, seaman Martin Diarmid, and steward Ferdinand Rohlf refused to join.

The Transit was towed into Hatteras Inlet, where Knowles and the other four crewmen were guarded on board for several days. The prize was then delivered to New Bern by Lieutenant J. A. Seawell of the Winslow. Carried before a magistrate in New Bern, they were discharged upon their parole not to serve against the Confederate States. They signed their parole in presence of Justice of the Peace Samuel R. Street on June 27, 1861. Free transit out of North Carolina from New Bern was granted them by Military and Naval Board Secretary Warren Winslow, namesake of the NCS Winslow. They remained aboard the schooner for two more days, after which they were told to leave and seek quarters in the city.

The August 23rd edition of the Philadelphia Enquirer reported that after a few days Knowles “got a chance to work at the unloading a cargo of molasses from another captured vessel.” That vessel would have been the Herbert Manton, captured by the Winslow on July 3rd. “On the day that this opportunity offered, the captain of the ship Thomas Watson, hailing from Mobile, arrived in Newbern in search of a crew for his vessel, which was to sail from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Liverpool. Mr. Knowles and his three companions eagerly availed themselves of the offer, and went with him to Wilmington, and thence, on the 5th of July, to Liverpool.” Knowles reported to the U.S. Consulate in Liverpool upon his arrival on July 31st.

In a letter to his wife, Knowles wrote that he was “duly installed mate of the ship Thomas Watson for Liverpool, taking with him two others of his crew – Crane and Martin.” No mention is made of the third crewman paroled in New Bern, Ferdinand Rohlf. A letter from H. Wilding of the U. S. Consulate dated August 3, 1861, states that Knowles and “two of his crew will be sent [to New York] by the steamer on Wednesday next.”

The fourth prize taken at Hatteras Inlet, the Hannah Balch, was a Confederate ship sailing under a prize crew from the USS Flag. Lieutenant Albert Kantz was prize master. The three merchantman who belonged to the ship’s crew were released. The Flag’s six sailors were jailed. Kantz was sent to Raleigh. Kantz reported, “I received a parole to live in Warren County, but on the 25th of August it was taken from me and I was sent to Richmond, Virginia, where I was confined in a cell by order of Jefferson Davis, for the alledged reason that A. G. Hudgins was confined in the Tombs in New York. Kantz and the rest of the prize crew were being held as hostages for the Savannah’s captured privateers..

On August 28, 1861, Kantz was granted a 50 day parole for the purpose of affecting an exchange. He had talks with both Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln, eventually coming up with a system of exchange that freed thousands of prisoners during the war. He and his six crewmen were exchanged in November of 1861. Kantz rose through the ranks, eventually becoming a rear admiral in the Pacific Fleet in 1898..

The Winslow took the crew of the 200-ton schooner Herbert Manton and her master Simeon Backus prisoners on 3 July 1861. Backus described his ordeal: “My crew was put in jail and myself detained aboard the steamer until the 23rd of July, when we were released and were allowed a ship on board of three different schooners, under the English flag and bound for Halifax, which we all did.” The Herbert Manton’s load of molasses and sugar were sold at auction, as was the ship itself. Three former members of the Transit crew that joined the Winslow’s crew shared in the prize money.

To be continued….


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s