[A Smart Transaction is Reported]The Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1234, p. 559.
December 5, 1863
A smart transaction is reported of the Confederate agents in England. The Admiralty, a short time ago, sold her Majesty's screw gun-vessel Victor, and, on being sold, she was permitted to undergo some repairs under the superintendence of the dockyard officials. It was stated that she was intended for the China trade, and she was ostensibly fitted with that view, while her name was changed to the Scylla, of London. Several suspicious circumstances, however, occurred, and the dockyard officials made a report to the Admiralty. The result was the receipt of an order at Sheerness directing her to be stopped. The order, however, arrived a few hours too late. Those in charge of the vessel evidently suspected the intentions of the Government, and had her taken out of the harbour. She immediately afterwards hoisted the Confederate flag, and she now sails under the name of the Rappahannock. On leaving the Nore, the Rappahannock sailed direct for Calais Harbour, which she entered as a Confederate privateer. The Customs' authorities at Calais, in answer to a question, have received instructions from Paris to allow the Rappahannock to leave whenever her captain pleases. It is said that the Admiralty have also sold the Amphion, Cyclops, and Phœnix to "private purchasers." About the middle of October instructions were received at Chatham, directing that in all cases in which vessels of war were sold out of the service "the greatest care should be taken in removing all the gun fittings and returning them to the War Department." The Victor, Cyclops, and Phœnix were, no doubt, stripped of their gun fittings, but these could be replaced without much difficulty.--We have the somewhat singular statement from Hull that "an undoubted ram" was launched there, with steam up, a few days ago, and that, after taking on board a number of "Southern-looking gentlemen, she was off like a shot."