Archival Research
Oct. 5, 1861 Confederate Writer from Elizabeth City, NC, Pens Early Details of Gunboat Fanny Capture
Oct. 5, 1861 Confederate Writer from Elizabeth City, NC, Pens Early Details of Gunboat Fanny Capture

Detailed letters appearing in Southern newspapers during the Civil War are worth their weight in Union gold.  After unearthing this letter a few months ago, I was ecstatic.  One of the most compelling news items was that there were none killed on either side.  The Northern papers painted a canvass of wholesale slaughter from the hundreds of shells flying off the deck of the USS Monticello moving along the ocean side of the island on the morning of October 5th – the day this Elizabeth City letter was penned.  The key revelations we regarding the capture of the Fanny.  My second-great grandfather Elias Oxford was aboard the vessel as they stood by and waited to be captured.  The Union officers wouldn’t permit the men to destroy any of the quartermaster goods or commissary stores.  The Georgians loved the new blue winter coats!  Huzzah!  Read on and enjoy how the Rebel writer relishes the moment.

The Daily Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, Thursday Morning, October 10, 1861, p. 3

The Exploit at Chickamacomico — additional Particulars.

A private letter, dated Elizabeth City, Oct. 5th, to a gentleman residing in Richmond gives some further particulars of Col. Wright’s expedition to Chickamacomico and which we are permitted to copy, The additional statement of the capture of the shipsteamer Fanny is equally interesting.

Elizabeth City, N. C.,Oct. 5, 1861.

Col. Wright, with the Georgia regiment of Col. Shaw’s, amounting in all for fifteen hundred men, went down on yesterday4th inst. to Chickamacomico, to attend a regiment of eight hundred of “Lincoln’s Hessians,” stationed, or very recently there, with resulted in the capture of two of the cowardly dogs, with several hundred muskets, many pistols, two page pieces of artillery, a large quantity of ammunition, blankets, &c., and provisions sufficient to feed a regiment for thirty days.

There was not a single man killed on either side, as the cowardly rascals did not stand long enough to fire their pieces — except one,who stopped out and shot, and killed, Col. Wright a horse from under him. He was one of the taken. Our men could have captured every one of the enemy if they (our troops could have succeeded in landing from the . The Georgia regiment succeeded, landing, after wading up to their arm-pits for over half a mile. The North Carolina troops seven hundred in number) tried to cut the retreating enemy off, by wading in a different direction from the Georgia troops; but they got into a deep channel of water (eight feet deep) and had to return.– Had they succeeded in landing, the whole of the Hessians could have been captured with perfect ease. Unfortunately for them, they could not procure any flats to carry with them to land the soldiers. Consequently they had to run the steamers in until they grounded, and then had to wade to the shore as soon as our soldiers landed and commenced to advance the enemy fied like sheep, throwing their muskets and side-arms in every direction — scattering them in the sand. They had blankets spread on the sand, playing cards, and they did not take time to pick them up, but left them dealt out on the blankets.

I presume you must have heard of the prize the Col. Wright took on Monday; 1st inst. It was as follows: Some day or two previous, ten negroes ran off from the Island, and got a boat and went down to the Yankees at Hatteras. One of the owners of the fugitives started with a flag of truce to get his negroes, and when pear Chickamacomico he saw one of Lincoln’s steamers — the “Fanny”–and becoming alarmed, returned to Roanoke and gave information to Col. Wright of the steamer. The Colonel took with him three hundred men, and the shipsteamer Curlew, with one or two Cannon, and on Tuesday, 2d inst., came in contact with the steamer “Fanny,” and after several shots from both steamers, succeeded in taking the “Fanny” and forty-nine prisoners, (Indianians,) besides a quantity of provisions, 1,050 overcoats, 1,200 pairs of blankets, two large cases of brogan shoes, two , besides sundry articles of eatables and drinkables, such as cheese, jellies, cakes, wines, brandy, cigars, &c. &c. The whole prize is estimated to be worth some $70,000 or $80,000.

There will, I think, be an attack made upon the Island by the Federals very shortly.

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One Response

  1. julie byrne says:

    my ggg granfather was george murtle from pasq county elizabeth city nc
    he was the pilot on the ss fanny 1861/1862 seafares have run in our family for 6 generations georges son also a seafarer went to liverpool and started our family, which is ironic because of the history of liverpool.

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