Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 29.djvu/225

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< 'wise of the C. S. Steamer Nashville. 209

reach of the enemy's guns, which, however, fired shot after shot in impotent rage, all falling short as we widened the distance under full steam, making safe harbor at Morehead City on the 28th day of February, 1862.

Captain Pegram, after visiting Richmond and reporting to the Navy Department for instructions, returned to the ship, bringing in- formation that the Nashville had been sold to private parties in Charleston. The order to remove all Confederate States property, including armament, charts, and instruments, from the vessel, was promptly executed, and the ship was left under my command with two midshipman, Messrs. Sinclair and Hamilton, Boatswain Sawyer, Chief Engineer Hood, three sailors, four firemen, cook and steward, to be kept in order until taken possession of by the agent of the purchasers.

General Burnside's movement upon Newbern, N. C., was then be- ing executed, and Captain Pegram, with the officers and crew of the Nashville, went through on one of the last trains that could escape, after which all communication inland was completely cut off. Burn- side's expedition was moving upon Morehead City, and the capture of the Nashville seemed inevitable. The blockading fleet had been increased to two steamers and one sailing vessel, and the Federal troops were on the march to seize the vessel as she lay tied up at the wharf.

A DARING ACT.

Without a crew or means of defense, without even a chart or chronometer, short of coal and provisions, the idea of saving the ship was simply vain. There seemed a single chance, however, and I determined to take that chance. The fall of Fort Macon was only a question of time, and a very short time at that; the blockade must, therefore, be broken. Quietly and secretly we set to work, and be- ing assured by my chief engineer (Hood) that with his small force and assistance of the deck hands he could keep the vessel under steam, we made ready to fun through the blockading fleet. I was fortunate in securing the services of Captain Gooding, an excellent coast pilot, who was then in command of the sailing ship blockaded in the harbor. He brought with him a chart, chronometer and sex- tant, and such instruments as were deemed absolutely necessary for navigation, with the promise that if his efforts were successful the ultimate command of the ship would be given him by the purchasers.

Having made all my preparations to destroy the ship, if neces-