Capture and Recapture of the Chesapeake.The Illustrated London News, vol. 44, no. 1239, p. 34.
January 9, 1864
The Chesapeake, Captain Willet, screw-steamer, of 460 tons, one of a line of freight and passenger steamers sailing between New York and Portland, Maine, left New York on the 5th ult., on her regular trip to Portland. At one o'clock a.m. on the 6th ult., when about twenty miles N.N.E. of Cape Cod, she was seized by a party of Confederates, who had taken passage on her for Portland. The second engineer, who was in charge of the engine at the time, was shot dead and his body thrown overboard. The first engineer was wounded by a ball in the chin, and was kept on board to work the engine. The first mate was also wounded, but not dangerously; and although several shots were fired at the captain he was fortunate enough to escape without even getting a wound. After the crew had been overpowered, the vessel was taken charge of by the Confederates; the captain, officers, and crew were placed in irons, and the passengers, some six or eight in number, on promising not to interfere, were allowed their liberty. The Confederates numbered sixteen persons, and were commanded by a Lieutenant Braine, reputed to hold a commission in the Confederate service. Among the passengers was a man belonging to St. John, N.B., who, on its being ascertained that he was acquainted with the navigation of the Bay of Fundy, was forced by Braine to act as pilot. On the night of the 8th ult. the Chesapeake arrived off Musquash Harbour, where she was boarded by a person, said to be a Confederate officer, who assumed the command of the steamer. A passing pilot-boat, "The Simonds," was hailed, the pilot was compelled to come on board, and the boat was taken in tow. The passengers, captain, officers, and crew of the Chesapeake were landed at this place, and arrived at St. John, New Brunswick, on the morning of the 9th ult. This incident forms the subject of our Illustration on the preceding page, from a sketch by Mr. Charles C. Ward, of St. John. The Chesapeake then steamed up to Partridge Island, at the mouth of the Harbour of St. John, where the man who had acted as pilot was landed, and the vessel sailed away.
The Chesapeake has been subsequently recaptured by the Federal steamer Ella Annie, in Sambro Harbour, Nova Scotia. The Chesapeake was taken to Halifax for judicial decision. No resistance was offered by the crew, all of whom, except three, escaped to the shore. The English authorities in Nova Scotia had forbidden the furnishing of coals to the Chesapeake by the people of that province; they had ordered her detention wherever she appeared, and gave the information to the Federals which led to her capture. It is also alleged that they have ordered the arrest of the men who seized her while going in her as passengers, holding them to have been guilty of piracy.
We learn by the last mail that the three pirates captured on board the Chesapeake were taken from the authorities by the mob whilst being landed at Halifax, and set free.