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Captain Wilson, of the Emily St. Pierre

The Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1144, p. 507.

May 17, 1862


We announced in a recent Number the capture and recapture of the British merchant-ship Emily St. Pierre, and we have much pleasure in now giving a Portrait of the chief hero, Captain Wilson, in this act of daring gallantry. The Emily St. Pierre was, it will be remembered, captured off the Charleston coast, in March last, by the Federal man-of-war James Adger; a prize crew of two officers and thirteen men were put on board the vessel, and the merchant crew, with the exception of the captain (Wilson) and three men, who were left on board, were trans-shipped to the James Adger. The Emily St. Pierre was ordered to Philadelphia; but on the way Captain Wilson succeeded, by means already well known, in recapturing his vessel and taking her to Liverpool, with the prize crew on board as prisoners. This daring and skilful act gained him much approbation, and, to mark their sense of his conduct, the merchants of Liverpool, to the number of 170, raised a subscription, and on Saturday Captain Wilson was presented with a magnificent service of plate. The presentation took place at the offices of the Mercantile Marine Association. Mr. James Beazley presided, and many of the principal merchants of Liverpool were present. Mr. Beazley, in making the presentation, stated that the conduct of Captain Wilson had not only met with the admiration of gentlemen partial to the cause of the South but also of those who held with the policy of the Northern States of America. Her Majesty's Navy, too, had marked its esteem of Captain Wilson's behaviour, as among those who had subscribed was Captain Inglefield, of her Majesty's ship Majestic, now anchored in the Mersey; while both the members of Parliament for Liverpool had also contributed towards the presentation. In addition to the service of plate was a gold chronometer watch and appendages and a splendid sextant, the latter article being presented by Captain Wilson's own crew, who have since arrived in Liverpool from America. Mr. Beazley stated that the owner of the Emily St. Pierre had presented Captain Wilson with the sum of £2000, and intended also to provide handsomely for the cook and steward of the vessel, without whom Captain Wilson could never have succeeded. The council of the Mercantile Marine Association have determined to present a special gold medal to the captain and silver ones each to the cook and steward. After the presentation to Captain Wilson two purses, each containing 20 guineas, were handed to the cook and steward.

Captain Wilson is in his forty-seventh year. He is the son of a Scottish farmer, and was born at Colvend, near Dumfries. In his fourteenth year he went to sea, being apprenticed to the North American trade. Previous to taking the command of the Emily St. Pierre he had commanded the vessels Grampian, Cheviot, Huron, and Alice Wilson. The captain is, as might have been expected from so brave a man, very unassuming, and his manner and quiet way of recounting his story to his Liverpool audience on Saturday week have added much to the admiration which his deeds have excited. As regards Captain Wilson's two coadjutors, hardly less brave than himself, the steward, an Englishman, is of small stature, and is about twenty-eight years old; the cook is a German, of middle size, in his twenty-seventh year.

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