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blockade for blockheads, surely, I thought, as I composed myself to sleep, dismissing entirely from my mind all terrors of the Yankee.
It was about two o'clock the next day, and the Greyhound was about one hundred and fifty miles out at sea, when the lookout reported a steamer astern of us. The day was hazy, and when the vessel was first descried, she could not have been more than five or six miles astern of us. For a few moments there was a sharp suspense; perhaps the steamer had not seen us; every one listened with breathless anxiety, as the tall fellow at the mast-head reported the discoveries he was making, through his glasses, of the suspicious vessel. "He is bearing towards a bark, sir;" and for a few moments hope mounted in our hearts that we might not have been observed, and might yet escape into the misty obscurity of the sea. In vain. "He is a side-wheel steamer, and is bearing directly for us, sir." "Give her her way," shouted the captain in response; and there was a tumultuous rush of the crew to the engine-room, and the black smoke curling above the smokestack and the white foam in our wake told plainly enough that the startled Greyhound was making desperate speed.
But she was evidently no match for the Yankee. We were being rapidly overhauled, and in something more than an hour from the beginning of the chase a shell from the Yankee vessel, the "Connecticut," was whistling over our bows. The crew became unruly; but Captain "Henry," revolver in hand, ordered back the man to the wheel, declaring "he was master of his vessel yet." The mate reported that a very small crew appeared to be aboard the Yankee. "Then we will fight for it," said the captain. But the madness of such a resolution became soon manifest: for as the Connecticut overhauled us more closely, her decks and wheel-houses were seen to be black with men, and a shell, which grazed our engine, warned us that we were at the mercy of the enemy. But for that peculiar nuisance of blockade-runners-women passengersthe Greyhound might have been burnt, and the last duty performed in the face of the rapacious enemy.
Dizzy, and disgusted with sea-sickness; never supposing that a vessel which had passed out of the asserted lines of blockade without seeing a blockader, without being pursued from those lines, and already far out on the sacred highway of the ocean, and flying the British ensign, could be the subject of piratical seizure; never dreaming that a simple Confederate passenger could be the victim of human kidnapping on the high seas, outside of all military and territorial lines, I had but a dim appreciation of the excited scenes on the Greyhound in the chase. Papers, memoranda, packages of Confederate bonds, were ruthlessly tossed into the purser's bag to be consumed by the flames in the engine-room; the contents of trunks were wildly scattered over the decks; the white waves danced with ambrotypes, souvenirs, and the torn fragments of the large package of letters, missives of friendship, records of affection, which had been entrusted to me, and which I at last unwillingly gave to the sea.
Here, at last, close alongside of us, in the bright day, was the black guilty thing, while from her sides were pushing out boats, with well-dressed crews in lustrous uniforms and officers in the picturesqueness of gold and blue-a brave sight for grimy Confederates! The Greyhound was no sooner boarded, than an ensign, who had his hair parted in the middle, and his hands encased in lavender-colored kids, came up to me and asked me with a very joyous air how many bales of cotton were on board the vessel. I afterwards understood that, from my disconsolate looks, he had taken me to be the owner of the cotton, and was probably desirous, by his amiable question, to give a sly pinch to my misery.
These plain records of experience, which are memorable in my life, would have no value for me, and would, indeed, be despicable scribblings, if they did not contain the truth. Where there is any fact in these experiences to the enemy's credit I shall not suppress it; he shall not only have the benefit of it, but my grateful acknowledgements; for I am too proud of the
reputation of Confederates for candor and sensibility to kindness to risk it for the miserable gratification of writing a libel for popular passion.
I shall ever retain a pleasant and grateful recollection of the treatment I, in common with all the prisoners, obtained on board the Connecticut, and the humane courtesy of her commander, John J. Almy. I had all the accommodations and attentions usually given to a passenger, was provided with a state-room, took my meals in the ward-room, and-what was the most grateful surprise of all-never had my ear assailed with the epithet of "rebel," or any of the dirty phrases which I had supposed to be common in Yankee conversation whenever it alluded to the Confederacy. I was told by those who had more experience in the matter than myself that the officers of the old navy of the United States are remarkable for their decorous manners towards prisoners, and, in this respect, presented a striking contrast to the coarse vulgarity of the Yankee army.
On the bright twelfth of May, the Connecticut was moving up the estuary of the James from Fortress Monroe to Newport News. The men-of-war and iron-clads which thronged the stream afforded an exhibition of the enemy's naval power, which made us smile to think how little all this brave show of ribbed guns and armaments had accomplished against the stark spirit and beggarly resources of those who fight for liberty.
The pilot who boarded us off the Capes (a fellow with a bilious skin and greased hair, who claimed to be from Maryland), brought a wonderful story of the progress of the war in Virginia. "The New York Herald had news as big as his fist: Beauregard's army cut in two; Lee on a foot-race to Richmond; ahead, everywhere," etc. I had heard such stuff before, and having had some experience of dissecting Yankee lies with pen and scissors, was not easily imposed upon by the pilot's resurrection of such from the columns of New York, journals.
At our mess in the ward-room, a fellow-prisoner was tempted to ask the pilot if there were any Virginia pilots employed in the bay or river. "Not one," was the fellow's reply; and a flush of shame might have passed on his cheek on observing the proud and meaning glance which three of the prisoners, Virginians, exchanged at the announcement. I had heard before that the Virginia pilots, without a solitary exception, had abandoned their livelihoods and professions, spurning the temptations of the enemy and the gains they might have made from dishonor; but here was the unquestionable testimony of their self-sacrifice from the lips of an enemy and a rival. I do not know that the State of Virginia has ever done anything for these noble men, turned adrift from their employment, many of them I know earning scanty bread about Richmond, by the pitiable shifts of the refugee. Surely, such sacrifices as they have made should be gratefully recognized, and, as far as possible, rewarded; for they are another public decoration of the honor of the "Old Dominion" in this war.
CURIOSITIES OF THE YANKEE BLOCKADE.-Correspondence with Lord Lyons, &c.
My sense of the personal kindness of Captain Almy and his officers certainly did not disturb my conviction that the Connecticut had done a monstrous wrong, and that these persons were the instruments of a despotism at Washington, that, among other indignities of the war, was imposing upon the world the monstrous lie of a blockade, which was, in fact, an ill-disguised system of piracy.
There were in my mind certain questions touching the practical conduct of that blockade, which I was satisfied had not been pressed upon the attention of European Governments; which made what lawyers call "a case" for the Greyhound, and which might possibly result, through the timely and determined protests of some one, in the rescue of the vessel from her captors. I determined to risk my liberty in the attempt to make the issue. I had my opportunity of escape in suppressing my name and keeping quiet; but my convictions of justice to the vessel, and my confidence in the eventual triumph of principles, determined me to risk my case, not on a disguise, but on the truthful grounds that myself and vessel were legally exempt from capture. I had already written to Lord Lyons claiming my release, and having resolved to make a similar issue for the vessel, I avowed to Captain Almy the necessity of my being sent to Boston, where the prize proceedings were to be held, to make the proper protests in behalf and in the interest of the owners of the Greyhound. I was sent on board the Greyhound, and soon secured the means of a free communication in my own name and that of the Captain with Lord Lyons: the result, a correspondence which must here anticipate my narrative of events. Little did I know what that correspondence was to cost me in the resentment of the Washington Government; for in it I had pre