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Mobile Register

Mobile Register

July 7, 1861

Page 1

(Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch)


Fredericksburg, June 30, 1861

I write to inform you of the partially successful issue of a most daring adventure which has been concocted at this place, and executed on the Potomac River and the Bay.  Capt. Hollins has just returned from the expedition this evening, and from his report and from personal observation I have collected the following circumstances attending the affair:

Friday morning our town was thrown into great commotion by a rumor being spread that a secret expedition was forming,  whose object was unknown.  Men were seen gathering in small groups at the corners of the streets, conversing on this all absorbing topic.  Some three or four days previously a gentleman of the name of Thomas was seen about the streets, with his head shaved very close, and dressed in the Zouave style.  He attracted upon himself universal observation, and was even suspected by some of being a spy.  He was evidently affecting a character very adverse to his true one.  He, it has since been ascertained, is a native of Maryland.  He had learned that the St. Nicholas was soon to start from that port to Washington, and had come on to concert with Capt. Hollins a most perilous and important expedition.  The object of the expedition was no less than the capture of the Pawnee.  It was to have been accomplished as follows, and nothing but a stroke of Providence could have made them fail of their object.

Capt. Hollins and Mr. Thomas were to go to Baltimore, take passage with twenty-five or thirty chosen men on board the St. Nicholas, and as soon as she had entered the Potomac and arrived at the mouth of Cone River, to overpower the crew and embark five hundred Tennesseeans, who were to meet them at this point.  They were then to sail up the Potomac with the United States flag waving at their mast-head, and then perform the grand act in the drama.  The latter was disconcerted by an unlooked for accident.

According to the preconcerted plan, the Tennesseeans left this place Friday morning, carrying with them ten surgeons.  Hollins and Thomas went to Baltimore, and embarked on board the St. Nicholas with twenty-five or thirty of the most adventuresome tars they could find.  Thomas was dressed in female habiliments, and was assiduously attended to by her attentive beau, Captain Hollins.  But, alas for human hopes!  While everything prospered, and all were expecting a happy issue of the affair, it was reported that it could then not be carried into effect.  Captain Hollins determined, however, not to lose all his labor.  So when they were at the mouth of the Potomac, at a preconcerted signal his men rose up, took possession of the steamer, and steering straight for the mouth of Cone River, they soon reached the place prearranged as the point where the Tennesseeans were to join them.  Hollins informed them of the failure of their original design.  He then returned to the bay and scoured it, capturing the following prizes in addition to the St. Nicholas:  A vessel laden with 3,500 bags of coffee, another laden with ice, and a third with coal.  They have all been brought within protection of our batteries.  The St. Nicholas with one of the vessels is in sight of our wharf.

The success has illuminated the countenances of our townsmen with exceeding joy.  Their anxious and careworn faces of yesterday are lit up with a luminous expression of joy and satisfaction.  The crew of the St. Nicholas, consisting of twenty free negroes and nineteen white persons, are in our jail, and will, in all probability, be sent to Richmond.


[Transcribed by Sharon Strout]


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