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The Town and Port of Nassau

The Illustrated London News, vol. 45, no. 1291, p. 592.

December 10, 1864


The Bahama Islands, though smaller and less productive than the rest of the British West Indian colonies, derive a certain political and commercial importance from their position, more especially since the blockade of the Southern States by the Federal navy. The port of Nassau, in the island of New Providence, being at no great distance from the coast of Florida, and commanding the nearest entrance to the navigation of the Gulf of Mexico; with an easy run, moreover, to Bermuda on the one hand, or to Wilmington, South Carolina [sic] , on the other, has become a great entrepôt for the blockade-breaking trade. We are indebted to an officer of the 1st West India Regiment, stationed at this place, for a View of the town and harbour, which we have engraved. It is taken from the verandah of the mess-house of the officers of that regiment, and gives a correct general idea of the place and its buildings. The large gate in the foreground is the entrance to the grounds of Government House. The cathedral is in the centre of the View. The two long buildings seen beyond the cottages in the foreground are the barracks. The harbour is very spacious, and formed by the long strip of rocky ground called "Hog Island," on which coal dépôts have recently been formed, so as to prevent the quays being occupied by the vast store of coal required for the steamers. There is also a dock, in which a "blockader" is seen undergoing repair. The vessel seen beyond the cathedral tower is the Lizzie, built on the Clyde, an Engraving of which was lately published in our Journal. She was sold the other day at Nassau to a merchant at Havannah. Another blockade-runner is just crossing the bar and coming into port with colours flying, denoting a successful run; while on the horizon we see another just off to "Dixie." These little steamers are painted a light grey, or nearly white, which renders them almost invisible at a distance, and they glide noiselessly over the water; yet it is a common thing, now that the Northerners have made the blockade of Wilmington so rigid, to see the steamers come into the port of Nassau with their masts shot away or their hulls pierced by shot. The population of Nassau is now threefold what it was before the blockade, comprising people of all nations and every class; and many large fortunes have been made, especially by those who engaged early in the traffic; but the crowded state of the town, together with the cases of yellow fever brought here by the shipping, has caused that fearful disease to prevail at Nassau more during the last summer than m previous years. Several cases have occurred among the officers of the garrison, but only two have proved fatal. As might be expected, house rent in the town is enormously high just now; and so is the price of provisions, which are chiefly imported from home, since their export from New York is prohibited, lest they should be sent into the Southern States to supply the Confederate army.

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