CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
STATE OF NEW YORK
BURNING OF THE SHIP BRILLIANT,
REBEL PIRATE ALABAMA,
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1862.
JOEL W. AMERMAN, PRINTER
No. 47 CEDER STREET.
Since the outbreak of tile rebellion in the southern States, which has resulted in civil war, three events have occurred which possess a national interest, and are of very considerable importance to the whole maritime world. I refer to the destruction of one hundred light-houses, more or less, which had been erected by the Government of the United States along our southern coasts from the Chesapeake Bay to Florida, and from Florida throughout the Gulf of Mexico, from Key West to Matamoros.
On every cape and headland these beacon lights shone out, and on every inland shore, alike as a warning to the sailor against the breakers on the coast, and as a guide "to this destined haven."
The darkness of night is still unrelieved along this entire line of coast, except at points--now not a few--where the national power has been re-established and the lights restored.
This wholesale destruction of these hundred light-houses, or the removal of the lights therefrom, was suffered to take place without any special condemnation of the perpetrators of this wrong against the race of men "who go down to the sea in ships;" or, if thee act has been condemned abroad, it has failed, if I mistake not, to attract any formal notice of foreign powers.
The second event, in order, was the "stone blockade," by which it was attempted to stop, for a time, the main entrance to the port of Charleston, S. C.--an act deliberately done, after due notice, and not necessarily exposing ships, in pursuit of a lawful traffic, to destruction; nor, as is now abundantly evident, doing a permanent injury to navigation. Nevertheless, the stone blockade was thought to be of such importance as to justify the protest of Great Britain; and, by the press of England, the act was denounced as a vagrant offence against the commercial world.
The third event--if I may describe a whole class as one--is the recent destruction by fire, on the Atlantic ocean, of the ship "Brilliant," and numerous other vessels, under the American flag, by a steamship which recently put to sea from tile port of Liverpool or Birkenhead, and is now known as the "Alabama." This act awaits the judgement of "neutral" nations, whose opinion thereon will doubtless be expressed in due time.
Of the "stone blockade" established by tile United States government, which so promptly called forth the animadversion, if not malediction, of our censors on the other side of the Atlantic, it may justly be said, that it was an innocent imitation of a method steadily but more effectually pursued by the rebels to shut out from their ports the people to whom they rightfully belong.
The other two of the occurrences referred to, viz., the destruction of light-houses on the coast, and burning of ships on the ocean, are progressive steps of a self-styled confederacy, by which a people, without a name among the civilized nations of the earth, seek to become known, and claim a recognition; a people who burn their own "King" (cotton) that he may not become a benefactor of man; who would dethrone all the principles of justice that they may found another kingdom, whose "corner stone" shall not be freedom of man, but the slavery of a race.
As a preface to a series of resolutions which I propose to submit to the Chamber, I will, with your permission, read a statement which has appeared in the daily papers of the city, as emanating from Captain HAGAR, of the Ship "Brilliant."
Captain HAGAR reported that he was from New-York, bound to London. On the morning of October 3d, in latitude 40, longitude 50.3O, the wind from N.E., a large ship in company about a mile to windward. Soon after, a steamer was seen on the weather-bow, standing to the westward, under sail. The steamer, on nearing the ship to the windward, ran up at her peak the St. George's Cross, and a few minutes later, fired a gun across her bow, at the same time displaying the Confederate flag. The American colors were set and the ship hove-to, and a boat from the steamer went along side. The steamer then came round and made sail for the Brilliant. We set our colors, and on the steamer nearing us, fired a gun across our stern, when we hove-to. A boat was then sent alongside, with two officers and a boat's crew, all armed, and on their reaching the deck of the ship claimed their a prize to the Confederate steamer Alabama, Captain SEMMES, with orders for me to go in the boat to the steamer, with all my ship's papers.
On arriving on board, after waiting awhile, was asked in the cabin to have my papers examined. The ship not having any documents to prove that her cargo was on foreign account, the papers and cargo were confiscated. I was then ordered on board the ship to assist with my crew and boats in removing such stores and cargo as they wanted for their own use, and to bring my officers and crew, with but a small bag of clothing each, on board the steamer, as they could not be lumbered up with our baggage. On arriving back to the steamer with my crew, was ordered to the other vessel, which proved to be the ship Emily Farnham, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Captain Simms from New York for Liverpool. The ship was claimed as a prize, and the captain was on board the steamer having his papers examined.
Documents being found among them to prove that his cargo was on English account, his ship was released.
On board the steamer were the captains, officers and crew (fifty-four in all) of the whaling barks Virginia and Elisha Dunbar, of New Bedford, captured and burned at sea. Both these crews, with those of the Brilliant, were put on board the Emily Farnham after being paroled.
During the remainder of the day the steamer's officers and crew were plundering the Brilliant of her cargo and stores, and every thing they chose to take. All of Captain HAGAR'S private property, such as his chronometer, sextant, barometer, charts, books, &c., and a large part of his clothing, were taken from him, the officers of the steamer claiming everything. During the afternoon a large ship was in sight to the southward, heading to the eastward, and they had their eyes upon her. It was now nearly or quite calm, and continued so during the night. At sunset the Brilliant was fired; at 7 P.M. was in flames, for and aft, the Emily Farnham lying about a mile from her. The continued to burn all night. In the morning the steamer was close at hand, and the ship seen the afternoon before had worked up to the burning wreck during the night, probably with the expectation of saving life, but at daylight found herself in the clutches of her destroyer! It continued calm nearly all day, and but a light air during the night. Towards midnight a bright light was seen in the direction of the steamer, and it is more than probable it was from the third ship.
Three of the crew of the Brilliant (all Englishmen) volunteered on the Alabama. The Emily Farnham continued on her voyage, but having the officers and crews of three burned vessels (sixty- eight in all) besides her own, had not water enough. On the 6th inst. fell in with brig Golden Lead, of Thomaston, Captain SMITH, who kindly consented to take on board eight of the number. The remainder would be put on board vessels as fallen in with. The Brilliant was built by SAMUEL HALL, and launched at East Boston in November, 1860; was 839 tons register, and, with her freight and outfits, was valued at $80,000; rated A1. She was owned by Messrs. J. ATKINS & Co., of New York, and Captain HAGAR. All the property Captain HAGAR possessed was in the ship, and not having the war risk in his insurance, has lost everything.
The Brilliant had no guns.
The Brilliant had the following cargo:
Flour,......... bbls. 5,231 Wheat ......... bush. 30,456 Beef, ......... tcs. 43 Pork, ......... bbls. 26 Pork, ......... tcs. 8 Zinc oxide, ... casks, 4 Zinc oxide, ... bbls. 200 Tallow, ............. lbs. 27,424 Butter,.............. lbs. 19,956 Lard oil,............ galls. 8,O43 Cocoa,............... bags, 242 Bacon ............... lbs. 12,200 Pork heads,.......... hhds. 9 Staves,.............. No. 8,640The following are the names of the vessels burnt by the Alabama as far as heard from:
Ship Brilliant, of New-York.
Ship Ocmulgee, of New-Bedford, whaler.
Ship Benjamin Tucker, of New-Bedford, whaler.
Ship Ocean Rover, of Mattapoisett, whaler.
The ship, name unknown, destroyed the day after the Brilliant.
Bark Virginia, of New.Bedford, whaler.
Bark Elisha Dunbar, of New-Bedford, whaler.
Bark Alert, of New-London, whaler.
Schooner Altamaha, of Sippican, whaler.
Schooner Weather-Gage, of Provincetown, whaler.
Schooner Admiral Blake,of Sippican, whaler.
Schooner Courser, of Provincetown, whaler.
Schooner Starlight, of Boston.
There were one hundred and ninety-one prisoners landed on the Island of Flores from the Alabama.
To the Editors of the New York Journal of Commerce:
Gentlemen--Please publish the enclosed description of the steamer, without one word being abridged, as the information is invaluable to government and ship-owners generally. Every part of the vessel, from truck to kelson, is accurately and faithfully described, and she would be known, by referring to it, by any of our navy officers, or merchant ship-masters, that might fall in with her.
GEORGE HAGAR, "Late Master of the Ship Brilliant.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CONFEDERATE STEAM PROPELLER ALABAMA
The Alabama was built at Liverpool or Birkenhead, and left the latter port in August last; is about 1,200 tons burden, draft about fourteen feet, engines by LAIRD & SONS, of Birkenhead, 1862. She is a wooden vessel, propelled by a screw, coppered bottom, about 210 feet long, rather narrow, painted black outside and drab inside, has a round stern, billet head, very little shear, flush deck for and aft, a bridge forward at the smoke- stack, carries two large black boats on cranes amidships forward of the main rigging, two black quarter-boats between the main and mizzen masts, one small black boat over the stern on cranes. The spare spars on a gallows between the bridge and foremast show above the rail. She carries three long 32-pounders on a side, and is pierced for two more amidships; has a lOO pound rifled pivot gun forward of the bridge, and a 68 pound pivot on the main deck; has tracks laid forward for a pivot bow gun, and tracks aft for a pivot stern- chaser, all of which she will take on board to complete her armament. Her guns are of the Blakely pattern, and manufactured by WESLEY & PRESTON, Liverpool, 1862. She is bark rigged, has very long bright lower masts and black mast heads, yards black, long yardarms, short poles, (say one to two feet) with small dog vanes on each, and append ant to the main studding-sail booms on the fore and main, and has wire rigging, carries on her foremast a square foresail, large trysail with two reefs, topgallant sail and royal. On the mainmast, a large trysail with two reefs and a bonnet. No square main-sail bent, topsail two reefs, topgallant sail and royal. On the mizzen mast, a very large spanker and a short three cornered gaft topsail, has a fore and foretopmast staysail and jib. Has had no staysails to the main or mizzen masts bent, or royal yards aloft.
It is represented to go thirteen knots under canvas and fifteen under steam. Can get steam in twenty minutes, but seldom uses it, except in a chase or emergency. Has all national flags, but usually sets the St. George's Cross on approaching a vessel. Her present complement of men is 12O, all told, but is anxious to ship more. Keeps a man at the masthead from day-light to sunset.
Her sails are of hemp canvas, made very roaching; the topsails have twenty cloths on the head and thirty on the foot. General appearance of the hull and sails decidedly English. She is generally under two topsails, fore and main topsails, fore and foretopmast staysails, sometimes topgallant sails and jib, but seldom any sail on the mizzen, except while in chase of a vessel. She is very slow in stays, generally wears ship. She was built expressly for the business. She is engaged to destroy, fight, or run, as the case may be. She took her armament and crew, and most of her officers, on board near Terciera, Western Islands, from an English vessel. Her crew are principally English, the officers chivalry of the South.
All the water consumed on board is condensed. She has eight months' provisions, besides what is being plundered, and has about four hundred tons of coal on board.
The following are the names of her offices:
Captain SEMMES, Commander-in-Chief; First-Lieutenant, KELL; Second- Lieutenant, ARSTRONG; Third-Lieutenant, WILSON; Fourth-Lieutenant, LOW; Sailing Master, SINCLAIR; Lieutenant of Marines, HOWELL, brother-in-Law of JEFF DAVIS; Corporal, FULLAM; Gunner, CURDY; Captain's Clerk, SMITH; Midshipman, MAFFIT, SINCLAIR, BULLOCK; Chief-Engineer, FREEMAN; Carpenter, ROBINSON; Boatswain, McCASKIE; Doctor, Surgeon, &c, unknown.
The resolutions I have to submit are the following, viz:
Resolved, That this Chamber has heard with profound emotion the graphic account given by Captain HAGAR, of the burning of his ship, "Brilliant," on the 3d day of October, instant, a portion of which is in the following words:
At sunset the Brilliant was fired; at 7 P.M. was in flames for and aft, the Emily Farnham lying about a mile from her. The ship continued to burn all night. In the morning the steamer was close at hand; and the ship seen the afternoon before had worked up to the burning wreck during the night, probably with the expectation of saving life, but daylight found herself in the clutches of her destroyer! It continued calm during all day, and but a light air during the night. Towards midnight a bright light was seen in the direction of the steamer, and it is more than probable it was from the third ship.
Resolved, That in view of this atrocity, it is the duty of this chamber to announce, for the information of all who are interested in the safety of human life--the life of ship-wrecked passengers and crews--that henceforth the light of a burning ship at sea will become to the American sailor the signal that lures to destruction; and will not be, as in times past, the beacon to guide the generous and intrepid mariner to the rescue of the unfortunate.
Resolved, That henceforth, self-preservation will be the first dictate of prudence, as it is the "first law of nature;" and consequently, that the destruction of the "Brilliant" can be only characterized as a crime against humanity; and all who have knowingly and willingly aided and abetted, must be considered as participators in the crime.
Resolved, That this Chamber has not failed to notice a rapid change in British sentiment, transforming a friendly nation into a self-styled "neutral" power, the nature of whose neutrality is shown in permitting ships to go forth with men, and in permitting an armament to follow them for the detestable work of plundering and destroying American ships, thus encouraging upon the high seas an offence against neutral rights, on the plea of which, in the case of the "Trent," the British government threatened to plunge this country into war.
Resolved, Further, that the outrage of consigning to destruction, by fire, without adjudication, British and American property together, is an aggravation of the offence against the rights of neutrals, and ought to be denounced as a crime by the civilized nations of the world.
Resolved, That this Chamber has heard, with amazement, that other vessels are fitting out in the ports of Great Britain, to continue the work of destruction begun by the "Alabama;" an enormity that cannot be committed on the high seas without jeopardizing the commerce and peace of nations.
Resolved, Further, that it is the duty of this Chamber to warn the merchants of Great Britain, that a repetition of such acts as the burning of the "Brilliant," by vessels fitted out in Great Britain, and manned by British seamen, cannot fail to produce the most wide-spread exasperation in this country; and, hence they invoke the influence of all men who value peace and good-will among the nations, to prevent the departure of other vessels, of the character referred to, from their ports, and so to avert the calamity of war.
Resolved, That it is the desire of this Chamber, as it is the interest of all its members, to cherish sentiments of amity with the people of Great Britain, to maintain those cordial relations which have led to profitable intercourse, and to strengthen the ties that knit them together in mutual courtesy and respect.
Resolved, That copies of the foregoing preamble and resolutions be sent to the Hon. Secretary of State, and the Hon. Secretary of the Navy, of the United States, and to the Boards of Trade of London and Liverpool. And that the Secretary of State be requested to transmit copies of the same to the diplomatic agents of the United States, for distribution in other commercial countries.
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