Caribbean Waters


Caribbean waters were utilized by Yankee traders throughout the American Civil War. The Confederate raiders CSS Alabama, CSS Clarence, CSS Florida, and CSS Sumter claimed Union victims amid the subtropical Caribbean islands.

Avon. Union. Ship. Cargo of 1,600 tons of guano. En route from Howland Island to Cork, Ireland. Was captured by the CSS Florida on March 29, 1864. Used the next day for target practice at latitude 15° 11' north, longitude 34° 25' west, west of Dominica and southeast of Puerto Rico. Fourteen of the vessel's crew enlisted on the Confederate raider. (ORN, 2:683; Hearn, Gray Raiders, 120.)

Benjamin F. Hoxie (B. F. Hoxie). Union. Clipper. Cargo of logwood and $105,000 in silver bars. Captain Carey of the vessel reported it carried $400,000 in silver bars, 30 tons of silver ore worth $500,000, and $7,000 to $8,000 in gold. Out of Connecticut. En route from the western Mexican coast to Falmouth, England. Was captured by the CSS Florida under Cdr. John N. Maffitt in the West Indies on June 16, 1863. The silver bars were removed and the vessel burned. (ORN, 2:653; Shomette, Shipwrecks of the Civil War, 177; Hearn, Gray Raiders, 96.)

Chastelaine (Chastelain). Union. Brig, 293 tons. Out of Boston. En route to Cienfuegos, Cuba, from Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, in ballast. Was captured and burned by the CSS Alabama on January 27, 1863, at latitude 17° 19' 50" north, longitude 72° 21' west, about 5 miles south of Alta Vela or Tall Sail, off Santo Domingo. (ORN, 2:170, 685, 725; Semmes, Service Afloat, 567; Summersell, Boarding Officer, 84.)

Colombo. Union. Out of Boston. Wrecked off Jamaica in early 1863. The hull, spars, and cargo were sold by auction on March 24-25, 1863. (New York Times, April 18, 1863.)

Corris Ann. Union. Merchant brig. From Philadelphia. En route to Mantanzas, Cuba. Was captured by the CSS Florida under Lt. John N. Maffitt on January 22, 1863, between Cay Piedras and Cay Mono near Cardenas, Cuba.

Was set afire and drifted onto shore inside Cardenas Harbor. (ORN, 2:51, 639, 668, 674.)

Estelle (Estella). Union. Brig. Crew of eight. Cargo of sugar, molasses, and honey. En route from Santa Cruz for Boston. Was captured and burned by the CSS Florida on January 19, 1863, near latitude 23° 34' north, longitude 83° 50' west, off Dry Tortugas. (ORN, 2:48-49, 639, 668, 674.)

General Rusk (Blanche). British. Iron side-wheel steamer, 750 gross tons, 417 bulk tons. Length 200 feet, beam 31 feet, depth 12 feet, draft 5 feet 7 inches. Built in 1857 at Wilmington, Del., as a merchantman. Seized by the state of Texas from the Southern Steamship Line at Galveston in 1861. Converted to a blockade-runner. While en route to Havana, Cuba, on the way to Lavaca, Tex., the USS Montgomery chased the Blanche to a point where the blockade-runner had anchored, about 300 yards off Marianao Beach, Cuba, 7 to 8 miles from Havana. The local Cuban alcalde, his son, and a Cuban pilot boarded the vessel to escort it into port. Two boats from the USS Montgomery approached the blockade-runner, and the Blanche's captain ran his vessel aground. Either the blockade-runner's crew or boarding Union sailors burned the vessel on October 7, 1862. A crewman and the Spanish pilot were captured aboard the vessel, but the rest made it to shore. Strong protests were made by the governments of Great Britain and Spain over the violation of neutral waters by the Union navy. Reparations were paid to Spain by the United States. Cdr. Charles Hunter, captain of the USS Montgomery, was later court-martialed, convicted of violating Spanish territorial jurisdiction, and dismissed from the U.S. Navy. (ORN, 19:267-79, 300; DANFS, 2:525.)

Golden Rocket. Union. Bark, 690 or 607 tons. Out of Ban-gor or Brewer, Maine. En route from Havana, Cuba, for Cienfuegos. In ballast. Was captured by the CSS Sumter off Cape Corrientes, Cuba, and burned 10 to 12 miles west-southwest of the Isle de Pinas on July 3, 1861. (ORN, 16:599; Semmes, Service Afloat, 127-29; Hearn, Gray Raiders, 15.)

Golden Rule (Retribution). U.S. Side-wheel steamer, 2,267 tons. Carried 635 passengers. Built in 1864 at New York City. Stranded on Roncador Reef off the Nicaraguan coast on May 5, 1865. The passengers were stranded for a week before they were rescued. (MSV, 86, 629.)

Golden Rule. Union. Bark. Cargo of masts, spars, and rigging for the USS Bainbridge, which had lost its equipment in a gale. En route from New York City for Aspinwall, Columbia. Was captured and burned by the CSS Alabama off the coast of Haiti on January 26, 1863, at latitude 17° 50' 39" north, longitude 74° 52' 30" west. (ORN, 2:685, 724-251; Semmes Service Afloat, 565-66; Summersell, Boarding Officer, 82-83.)

Parker Cook. Union. Bark, 136 tons. Cargo of provisions. Out of Boston. En route for Aux Cayes on the south side of Santo Domingo. Was captured and burned on November 30, 1862, by the CSS Alabama off Cape Rafael, Santo Domingo. Some of the provisions were transferred to the

Confederate raider. (ORN, 1:780, 808; 3:678; Semmes, Service Afloat, 523; Summersell, Boarding Officer, 58-59.)

USS Shepherd Knapp. Union. Ship, 838 tons. Length 160 feet 10 inches, beam 33 feet 8 inches, depth 22 feet 3 inches, light draft 13 feet. Complement of ninety-three, with eleven guns. Launched in 1856 at New York City. Ran onto a coral reef on the evening of May 18, 1863, near Cape Haitien, Haiti, with 11 feet of water under the vessel at high tide. All usable stores and provisions were salvaged and put on board the Union ship National Guard. Unable to be hauled off the reef by the USS Rhode Island and USS Chippewa. The eleven guns were removed, along with the anchors, chains, and rigging. (ORN, 2:196-98; ser. 2, 1:207; WCWN, 139-40.)

Windward. Union. Brig. Cargo of sugar. Out of Philadelphia. En route to Portland, Maine, from Matanzas, Cuba. Was captured and burned by the CSS Clarence on January 22, 1863, off Cuba. (ORN, 2:639, 668, 674.)

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