War of the Rebellion: Serial 021 Page 0113 Chapter XXVII. CAPTURE OF STEAMER ANN.

Search Civil War Official Records

About 11.30 p.m. on the 29th ultimo I received the report that a vessel was approaching from the eastward, showing a certain signal. I immediately repaired to the lookout station, and upon being assured myself of the signal, directed a given reply. Shortly after a boat approached the beach, and I duly received the report that the British steamer Ann, with a valuable cargo, was lying between the banks and the beach, about, three-fourths of a mile from the fort, and desired protection and assistance in getting into the harbor. Sixteen gun detachments, which are regularly detailed every night for service in such an emergency, were already at their guns and were directed to lay at their posts for the night. A reliable pilot was sent off to anchor the vessel in a secure position and to remain on board of her. An armed guard was stationed on the beach of the vessel, and the steamer Crescent, attached to this post, was ordered to be alongside of the Ann at early daylight to commence discharging her cargo. To work at night would only have attracted of the enemy and endangered the vessel by the necessary lights. A working squad was detailed from the garrison to assist the crews of the steamers.

The Crescent promptly executed the order given her, and the work of discharging went rapidly and regularly on during the greater part of the day, the heavy vessels of the blockading squadron lying at anchor 6 or 7 miles distant and the gunboats not in sight.

Upon the opening of the telegraph offices in the morning the situation of the steamer, the nature of her cargo, the name of the consignee, were, as you are aware, promptly reported to the general commanding, and shortly after, it having become apparent that the Crescent would not be able to assist the Ann over the bar before night, a telegram was dispatched to the city desiring a boat of more power to be sent down to assist in the work and to tow that vessel over the obstructions.

At 4 p.m. the boat from the city was rapidly approaching. The Crescent had just gotten in heavily laden for the second time, having brought in the working detachment from the garrison, to be relieved by another now in readiness to go out at once upon the boat from the city. The Ann, having had a portion of her heaviest articles of the cargo left in her necessary to maintain her in the position requisite for getting her over the bar, was steaming up to that obstruction with the view of being in readiness to be acted upon at once, and the blockading gunboat was now in sight, coming in from seaward.

At 5 p.m. the Ann was lying upon the bar, with a boat in readiness to take and secure the tow-line. The Dick Keys, which had reported from the city, taken a detachment of the garrison on board, and received orders to proceed at once to tow the Ann, was about 500 yards from that vessel. The gunboat was steaming slowly in, as if to examine the position of affairs, but was 3 miles distant and could not approach within 2 1/2 miles from that direction from the nature of the banks, and three detachments had been posted at some of our heavy rifled guns to keep her out of range.

I now observed, to my astonishment, that the captain of the Ann, with her crew, hurriedly abandoning his vessel, and shortly after the captain of the Dick Keys turned his boat around and as hurriedly move back toward the wharf. At this time not a shot had been fired, nor could the gunboat have thrown her shot or shell more than two-thirds of the distance. Major Barnwell was directed to meet the Dick Keys at the wharf and order the captain to return at once to execute the duty assigned him. This order he objected to obeying