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June 30, 1861

Page 2


            THE PRIVATEER SAVANNAH—Particulars of her Capture—The New York World, of June 17, thus notices the arrival at that port of the captured privateer Savannah:

            One of Jeff. Davis’ privateers, the Savannah, of Charleston, to which the first letter of marque was issued—after a running fight, was captured on the 3d instant by the U. S. brig Perry, about fifty miles from Charleston harbor.  The Savannah, a schooner-rigged vessel of fifty four tons burden, was formerly engaged as a pilot boat.  At the time of her capture she was armed with an 18-pounder amidships, and had on board an ample supply of shot and shell, grape and canister, while her crew were provided with knives, cutlasses, pistols, rifles, etc.  She was also well provisioned for a protracted cruise, although at the time of her capture she had been out of port only about thirty-six hours, during which period, however, she had taken as a prize the brig Joseph, of Rockland, Me., and sent her to Georgetown, S. C.  It appears that the piratical craft left Charleston harbor on Sunday, June 23d, under the command of Capt. Baker, with a crew of twenty five men.

            On the following day she fell in with the brig Joseph, from Cardenas, Cuba, with a cargo of sugar, consigned to Welch & Co., of Philadelphia.  By an artful arrangement of the colors on board the Savannah, the captain of the brig was induced to believe that the piratical craft was in distress, and went on board, when he was held as a prisoner and his vessel seized as a prize, and as such a prize crew of eight men was put on board to take her into Georgetown harbor.  Before the Savannah and her prize had fairly parted company, the brig Perry hove in sight, and by disguising her real character, her guns being purposely run back and her portholes closed, she was doubtless taken for another prospective prize by the pirates, who immediately made all sail they could, and came within a short distance of the Perry before they discovered that they were sold, which they put about and tried hard to make good their escape.  The Perry gave chase, and fired several shots to bring the pirate to.  The latter fired shots in return, which passed over the Perry in without doing any damage.

            After a chase of about six hours, the Perry hauled up close to the piratical schooner, and ordered her to heave to, which she did, when men from the Perry, under command of Lieut. J. N. Miller, boarded her.  The officers and crew of the Savannah then came forward and gave up their sidearms and surrendered themselves as prisoners.  They were taken on board the Perry and put in irons, and the Savannah was placed in charge of a prize crew, with Midshipman McCook in command, who brought her to this port, which they reached on Saturday, while the brig Perry transferred her prisoners to the United States frigate Minnesota, lying off Charleston bar.  On board the privateer was a young man hailing from New York, who represented that he was impressed into the services of the pirates while in an unconscious state.  He stated that there were originally thirty-two men on board, but eight effected their escape before the vessel sailed on her privateering cruise.

            The Tribune says the number that originally shipped on the Savannah was thirty-two, but eight deserted before she put to sea.  There were, therefore, twenty-four aboard when the Joseph was captured, and eight having been transferred to her, leaves sixteen in irons on the Minnesota.  The Savannah was recently employed as a pilot boat in Charleston harbor, and possesses all the appearance of a fast sailing staunch little craft.  Her tonnage rates at about fifty five.  She is sixty feet long, schooner rigged, and her draft is about eight feet.  She carries one eighteen pounder gun, mounted amidships upon a swivel, and placed in such as position that it can play with force at any desired point.  In her hold are hammocks to accommodate ten or twelve men, and everything around, both inside and out, denotes the care which had been taken to provide her with all the utensils so necessary for her arduous and dangerous occupation.  When boarded she was found to possess, in addition to her gun on deck, a number of muskets, pistols, bowie knives, cutlasses, etc., all scattered around in confusion, the precise number of which could not be ascertained.  Ten pairs of handcuffs, supposed to be for the use of prisoners whom they might capture, were all found on board.

            The following communication appears in the Mercury of yesterday:

            Sir: I see a statement in the Evening News copied from the New York World, to the effect that a young man hailing from New York, and taken on board the privateer Savannah, had represented that he was forced on board against his will.  I am personally acquainted the man alluded to.  He boarded the privateer with me, and I know that he came of his own free will.  Instead, too, of there being thirty-two men on board the Savannah at the time of her capture, there were but twenty.

            The statement that the Savannah hoisted signals of distress to decoy the Joseph is wholly untrue.  I can certify to this as one of the prize crew that brought the Joseph into Georgetown.

                                                                                                CHARLES BLAKE


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