Saturday, October 29, 2011

And, then There Were Those Privateers

From the Oct. 27th Choctaw Plaindealer.

While the Monitor was being built, a trial was going on in New York City as well involving 14 crew members of the Confederate Privateer Savannah who had been captured and were being charged with piracy and treason, both punishable by death.

The Savannah led a short career after receiving permission to privateer from Confederate President Jefferson Davis. It sailed out of Charleston Harbor and captured a ship the first day out. After returning with it, the Savannah made the mistake of attacking a Naval ship, the USS Perry and being captured.

President Davis contacted President Lincoln saying that if the Savannah's crew were executed, 14 Union prisoners would die in retaliation.

The trial began October 23, 1861, and lasted eight days. After a day and night deliberation, the jury's foreman reported they couldn't reach a decision. The jury was dismissed, but crew still held.

In November, 14 Union officers were chosen by lot by the Confederates to meet the same fate as whatever awaited the Savannah's crew.

The Lincoln administration backed down and in February 1862, the privateer's crew was transferred to a POW camp and later exchanged, saving the lives of the Union officers.

So, a Lot of Naval Stuff happening This Week 150 Years Ago. --Old B-R'er

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