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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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The Rebel Cruiser Alabama


October 1862

From The Missouri Democrat, Friday, October 17, 1862.


Terrible Destruction of Merchant Vessels.

NEW YORK, October 16.—The rebel propeller Alabama is 1,200 tons burthen; a wooden vessel 210 feet long; rather narrow; carries three long 32-pounders on a side, and is pierced for two more amidships; has a 100-pounder rifled pivot gun forward of the bridge, and a 68-pounder on the main deck.  Has tracks laid forward for a pivot bow gun, and tracks aft for a pivot stern chaser.  Her guns are of Blakesly [sic] pattern, and made by Wesley.  She is reported to go 13 knots, and 15 under full steam.  She can get steam up in 20 minutes.  Her complement of men is 120, but she is anxious to ship more.

The Virginia was captured on the 17th of September, in latitude 39, longitude 34, and stripped of all valuables and burned.  The Elisha Dunbar was taken the next day and burned.

The crews of both vessels were put in irons on deck aboard the Alabama, and kept there night and day, and finally transferred to the [illegible-Emily] Farnham.

Captain Gifford, of the Dunbar, says he understood the Alabama would cruise about the Gulf banks a few weeks to destroy American shipping.  They had knowledge of two ships being loaded with arms for the United States, and were in hopes to capture them.  They were anxious to stop the Dreadning, and were confident of their ability to capture or run away from any vessel of the United States.

The steamer being in the track of both outward and homeward bound vessels, and more or less being in sight every day, she will make great havoc among them.

The Alabama took her armament and crew on board, near the Western Islands, from an English bark.  Her crew are principally English, the officers being the chivalry of the South.  All the water consumed on board is condensed.  She had eight months’ provisions, beside what is being collected, and about 400 tons of coal.
NEW YORK, Oct. 16.—The ship Brilliant, of New York, bound from New York to London, was captured and burned October 3, lat. 40, long. 50, by the pirate Alabama.  The ship Emily Farnham, of Portsmouth, N. H., from New York for Liverpool, was captured at the same time, but released by documents aboard showing that her cargo was on English account.  Captain Hayes and crew, of the Brilliant, arrived in the brig Golden Lead, on which also arrived the captains and crews of the whaling barks Virginia and Elisha Dunbar, of New Bedford, captured by the Alabama.  The officers and men of the three vessels captured were paroled and transferred to the Emily Farnham, which put them aboard the Golden Lead on the 6th.

Captain Hayes reports another ship was in sight when the Brilliant was burning, working up towards the wreck, probably with a hope of saving life, and as another light was seen at night it is presumed she was also burned.  The Golden Lead only brought eight of the crews of the burnt ships.  The rest, sixty in number, would be put aboard other vessels fallen in with by the Emily Farnham.  The Brilliant was built at East Boston in 1860; 839 tons register, valued, with freight and outfits at $80,000, and owned by J. Atkins & Co., of New York, and Captain Hayes, all of whose property was in her.

The following is a current list of the vessels destroyed by the 290:  Ships Brilliant, Ocmulgee, brig Tucker, barks Virginia, Elisha Dunbar, brig Altamacha, schooners Courier, Weather-Gagne and Star-Light and a ship unknown.  One hundred and ninety-one prisoners were landed on the island of Floren.