Sea History 151 - Summer 2015

Page 38

A few prominent Haligonians, however, were eager to help. The merchant firm Benjamin Wier & Company, a major supplier of blockade runners, provided the coal. Tallahassee h ad lost its mainmast and a local physician, Willi am]. Almon, provided them with a replacement. Almon was the city's best-known Rebel sympathizer, and Jefferson D avis was said to have praised "his efficient and disinterested support of the cause." The raider did not have to leave umil dawn on 20 August bur by rhen, Wood feared, his pursuers would h ave reached H alifax. His only option was to try to escape the way he had lefr Wilmington-under cover of darkness. Tallahassee stands by as the Adriatic burns in August 1864, about thirty-five miles south of Wood and local pilot Jock Flemming Montauk Point. The Adriaric was inbound for New York from London when the Confederhuddled over a chart of rhe harbor. If Talate raider ordered the ship to heave to. Subsequently, the Adriaric' s crew and 163 passengers lahassee could make ir through Eastern Pastransferred to a nearby vessel whose captain was ordered by Wood to take them to New York. sage, a channel so shallow and litde-used coal supply running low and Union gun- and Britain to the brink of wa r. "They hate rhar ir h ad no buoys or lighrs ro guide boars on rhe prowl, Wood turned his ship the Yank as bad as we do," concluded one mari ners, she could evade any Yankees lying eastwards, bound for the neutral port of Confederate agent, who dubbed Halifax in wair in the port's deeper shipping lanes. Halifax, Nova Scotia. "a hot Sourhern town." "Are you certai n ... rhere is water The century-old capital of the British Nevertheless, the official reception for enough ?" Wood asked. colony of Nova Scotia, Halifax was a busy CSS Tallahassee was chilly. Colonial officials "If yo u will sreer her," was rhe pilot's commercial port and served as headquarters were determined to prevent rhe visit from confident reply, "I will find the water." 1 for the Royal Navy's powerful North Amer- offending Northern sensibilities or escalatican Squadron. It was also a base for block- ing into an international incident. When They entered the passage at high tide ade runners and a favorite haunt of Con- Wood dropped anchor in the harbor on 18 and Wood alternated power between the federare operatives and refugees, who were August, he was given just rwenty-four hours ship's twin propellers ro execute turns on a welcomed into the homes and social circles to refuel and get out. Further, he was au- dime. A small boat was sent ahead with a of the rich and powerful. thorized to load no more than a hundred lantern, ro mark the most promising course. Nova Scoria ns held a deep resentment tons of coal, which had been determined "At one place," Wood larer claimed, "there over the North 's belligerence toward Great was just enough to get them back to WilmBritain and its colonies-the seizure of ington. The British did not want to be ac- 1 John Taylor Wood, "The Tallahassee's Dash Confederate emissaries from rhe Royal Mail cused of helping Wood to inflict further into New York Waters," Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine (July 1898). packer Trent in 1861 had brought the Union damage on Northern shipping.

The Confederate raider Tallahassee at anchor in Halifax H arbour in August 11 864.