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" The Calhoun was the first in the Pacific whaling grounds to destroy the

Organizer of the Jib Boom Club.


1 68


whalers, and three from Provincetown — the John Adams, Mermaid, and Para-
na — were captured and the vessels with their cargoes of oil set on fire and the
sixty-three men composing their crew brought to New Orleans and set adrift.
"The most formidable and destructive were the famous Alabama and the
Shenandoah. These scourges of the sea ranged along the Atlantic Ocean and
intercepted returning whalers. The Alabama was particularly clever in devices
for alluring the unsuspecting into her power. After capturing a vessel she
would wait until night and then set it on fire. All the whaleships seeing the
blaze would start to rescue the men whom they thought were in peril, and thus
fell into the trap. The Alabama decoyed and burned the ships Benjamin
Tucker, Osceola, Virginia, and Elisha Dunbar, of New Bedford; Ocean, of


Sandwich; Alert, of New London; and the schooners Altamaha, of Sippican,
and Weather Gage, of Provincetown, who had hastened to rescue the men of
the Ocean Rover, of Mattapoisett, which they thought had caught fire through
accident. Many of the whalers would go into friendly ports and wait until the
privateers went on their way; others were blockaded, and a good many excel-
lent ships manned by resolute men gave the Confederates good doses of lead.
The United States navy was largely recruited from the merchant and whaling

" The men who went out in '60 and '61 had no way of getting to their
home ports, and mighty few of them did; they used to go to Honolulu and San
Francisco. Then some daring spirits did get out from New Bedford and New
London and managed to make very good voyages.

"There wasn't any more profitable season since the fifties than that end-
ing in the spring of '65, and there was a big fleet of whalers in the Northern



Pacific and Behring Straits waiting for the advancing spring to let them start
for home. Some had been out six months, some eighteen, some two years.
Many had every bit of space filled, and others had just enough of success to
make the men comfortably happy. None of them had any late home news.
The latest comer, the Nassau of New Bedford, Captain Greene of New London,
had brought the satisfactory tidings when she left the States in December^
1864, that there wasn't much comfort ahead for Johnny Reb. No one thought
that there was a confederate privateer within a thousand miles. But the
Shenandoah, under Waddell, was in the sea of Ochotsk, ruthlessly destroying
every ship she met. There the Abigail of New Bedford, Capt. Ebenezer Nye,
was her first victim in the
middle of June. The Ab-
igail was becalmed and all
hands were at work clean-
ing up when the lookout
announced a ship in sight.
The first mate after some
scrutiny announced that it
was a United States gun-
boat. 'Give me the glass,'
said Capt. E b. . 'It's
darned suspicious that
there ain't any flag. No
United States skipper'd
forget that in these times.'
' She's making for us,' he
added after a few moments. 'We'll find out pretty quick. I wish we carried a
gun to pepper 'em if they are enemies and salute 'em if they are friends.'
'We could pelt 'em with biscuit,' said the mate, who was sure they were

"As the stranger neared them, she ran up the stars and bars and they
could see her ugly guns and her deck swarming with men.

"'Good God!' cried Capt. Eb., 'it's one of them devils, and we're done for.'
A boat was lowered from her and pulled directly toward the whaler. It halted
a few boat's lengths away at the hail of the captain.

" 'The Shenandoah, and if you don't surrender at once we'll blow you to
kingdom come !'

" 'God help us !' groaned Nye. 'There's nothing else to be done. It is
hard to be in a hole like this, but we shall be the only victims if I can help it.
Get out two boats, men, while I parley with this fellow. We'll start off and
risk it. There's about thirty ships in the straits, and maybe we can warn

"'What do you want to interfere with us for?' he shouted. 'Nice, manly
work it is for you. There ain't any fighting going on here, and you'd better
have stayed where there was. You can burn this ship, but it ain't going to
do you a sixpence of good.'

" To his surprise the men in the boat looked listless and dispirited, and
after he had said all that he could think of to take up the time, the officer only
answered : 'Listen to the Yank scold ! He can do better at that than at fight-

rgest of the New Londo


ing.' 'Oh, that's in line with your work,' cried Nye. 'You'd see what I'd do if
I had a chance !' 'You are going to surrender, sensibly ? We don't want to
spill any blood.' 'Yes.' The boat turned back, and Nye, asking his men to
keep the Shenandoah occupied as long as they could, hastened to the boats
with those who had signified their willingness to go. They had pulled a good
distance from the Abigail ere the Shenandoah noticed their departure and
trained one of her guns upon them, but the shot went wide. The men had
tried to bring with them their precious possessions, and Capt. Nye had
judged it best not to seem to notice how heavily laden were the boats. They
kept together for a time, not a word in either boat, but every man was stealing
furtive glances back for the light he dreaded to see. It came at last, and a

burst from every throat. A mo-
thought of others to save. Hope
ulated them, and under the im-
headway. Darkness prevented
when morning dawned the boat in
descry no sign of her mate. It
spirits of the men, and a calm and
gloom. On the fourth day they
eastern coast of Siberia, about
East, and Capt. Nye, now that the
had been helplessly drifting had
out for sight of the fleet of whalers
in this region. It was late in the
June when they were overjoyed
lioisted the stars and stripes in

long drawn sob of agony
ment they paused, then
to foil the privateer stim
petus they made rapid
their keeping together and
which was Capt. Nye could
was hard to keep up the
thick fog added to their
had reached a point off the
fifteen miles south of Cape
fog through which they
lifted, kept a sharp look
which he knew must be
afternoon of the 26th of
at seeing a ship which

from the Heads of Whale

response to their signal. They were soon on board and received her sad
news. She was a New Bedford whaler lately constructed, and her superior
steam equipment had enabled her to escape the ravages of the Shenandoah,
which that very morning had captured and burned the Isabella, Gypsy,
Catherine, General Williams, and William C. Nye.

"This news completely prostrated the captain, whose grief that he had
vainly abandoned his ship was most poignant. But they cheered him up, say-
ing he ought to be glad that he had escaped the mortification of being made a
prisoner. As for the Shenandoah, it wasn't likely she would think there were
more than the little fleet upon which she had pounced. But the Shenandoah
was leaving nothing to presumption. Laden with everything of value from
her five victims, she was steaming leisurely about, confident that she would



find further prey, and, smarting under the knowledge of continued and irre-
trievable reverse to the Confederacy, vengefuUy determined to make the Yan-
kee victory as dear as lay in her power. Fate seemed to delight in affording
her opportunity. The 27th of June she spied a large fleet of whalers near
Cape East apparently waiting for a wind. The sea was jammed with ice, and
they had gathered there to assist the Brunswick, a New Bedford ship that had
been badly jammed. To the powerful craft the ice was a mere shell, and she
steamed her way toward them. Not one endeavored to escape, for the idea
unaccountably possessed them that she was a government survey vessel. So
sure were they, that impatience to hear the news from the States forced them
to send Capt. Ludlow
of Long Island to
meet her. The She-
nandoah disdained to
resort to any of her
usual tactics of con-
cealment, and, exult-
ing in the conscious-
ness of the utter
helplessness of her
quarry, lay to and
waited for the em-
bassy. Ludlow had
not put his foot on
deck when he saw
his mistake, but he
boldly stated his er-
rand. Waddell speed-
ily convinced him of
his error, and angrily i.„k gen. williams.

ordered him to re-
turn with the intelligence from the Shenandoah that their Union sympathies
would not save their ships. 'Well,' said Ludlow undauntedl}', reckoning he
might as well be hung fcjr a sheep as a lamb, 'We won't begrudge them to
Uncle Sam.'

" A hurried council was held on his return. There were the Hillman, Isaac
Rowland, Nassau, Brunswick, Waverly, Martha 2nd, Congress, Covington, Milo,
General Pike, Nile, James Maury, Nimrod, and Favorite. Their crews niim-
bered 400 men, but, according to the careless custom of the times before the
Civil War, none of them had arms, guns, or facilities for running away from
the formidable gunboat which could so easily annihilate them. So it was re-
solved to swallow their bitter pill with what grace they could muster, with the
hope that Waddell would be merciful-enough to bond some of the ships and let
them go.

" They had good fighting blood in them, these old sea dogs, and it was like
pulling a double molar to get some of them to gonsent. But the prudent won
the day, save with old Tom Young of Fairhaven, who swore in a way that
would have made a Parkhurst jump, if the Fates had not mercifully foreborne
to deal out Parkhursts in those days of affliction.



" Capt. Thomas G. Young was captain only in name, for he was close upon
the patriarch's three score and ten, but his spirit was high, his heart full of
courage and patriotism, and he swore with a deep and satisfying oath that no
Johnny Reb could ever receive his surrender. If Waddell should destroy his
vessel without his protest, he would never forgive himself.

" 'Damn it all, men,' he said, 'don't let us be chickens. We can fight for
the Union just as good here as anywhere. I've sailed with you all many a
year, and the Favorite always knew she had a good crew and respected 'em.
No true Yankee skipper'll give up his ship.'

" But officers and men took a different view. They knew that Capt. Young
was part owner of the Favorite, and that, personally, they would gain nothing

by a resistance which
might imperil their
lives. To sacrifice
their kits and all
their treasures ap-
peared enough to the
men who had incen-
tives to life in dis-
tant wives and child-
ren. Vainly they
urged the captain to
reconsider his de-
cision. But he ap-
pealed again to them
to make a determined
resistance, and find-
ing them obdurate,
loaded his bomb guns
and fire arms and
took his stand upon the cabin roof. In the meantime the other ships were
submitting quietly to the Shenandoah, and, as they saw the stand of the
Favorite, the men were apprehensive lest a human sacrifice result. When
the Shenandoah's boat brought the demand to surrender to Capt. Young, he
yelled out : 'Stand off ! I'm going to shoot Waddell to-day !'

"The sight of the guns, the look of his eye, were sufficient to emphasize
his admonition, and the envoy precipitately returned. Waddell had already
divined the Favorite's intention and had given orders to fire upon her, but the.
returning boat was in range. The captain of the Favorite was now surround-
ed by his crew imploring him to desist, but being sharply repulsed, they re-
moved the caps from the loaded arms, carried off the ammunition and rushed
for the boats The Shenandoah's boat had reported progress to Waddell, also
Capt. Young's declaration that he would shoot him, Waddell laughed. 'It
isn't worth while wasting shot on the tub,' he said, contemptuously; 'let two
boats go after him, and if the old devil is obstinate, pick him offi'

"They pulled off with alacrity and were soon alongside. Alone, grim and
gaunt, the old man stood on the cabin roof, one hand holding a pistol, a pile of
small arms at his feet. He was ready to fire his bomb guns after the parley
he expected. Not a thought of personal danger came to him, he was only sor-

.A typical Whaler of ab<



ry that Waddell was not there. As the boats neared,^the commanding officer
called, 'Pull down your colors, resistance is useless.' 'I'll see you damned
first,' retorted Young. 'If you don't,' said the officer of the boat, I'll shoot
you.' 'Shoot and be damned !' invited the old hero, as he drew forth from be-
hind him a small flag, and, waving the stars and stripes around his head, gave
three cheers for the Union. Wrapping the flag about him he rushed to fire his
guns. From one to the other he went. He hadbeenjbetrayed! He snapped hi.s
pistol. That too had been tampered with. The privateer's crew were swarm-
ing over his deck. With a scream of agony, the brave old skipper grasped a
gun by the barrel and rushed forward to die fighting. A dozen strong young
hands seized and disarmed him. He was put in irons in the top gallant fore-
castle, and, though some were inhuman enough to suggest burning the ship,
his captors contented themselves with tearing the flag to shreds before his
eyes, taking from him his money, watch and shirt studs, and leaving him

" Some hours after the Shenandoah had gone sated with plunder, a crew
which had left one of the ships, preferring the mercies of the seas to that of
the privateer, rescued Capt. Young.

" The Shenandoah burned thirty-four ships in all and bonded four — the
Milo, General Pike and James Maury and the Nile of New London. These,
loaded to suffocation with her despoiled victims, including Capt. Samuel
Greene of the Nassau, proceeded to San Francisco. Thence Capt. Greene
came home by the Panama route, to engage, after rest, in but one more thrill-
ing experience ere he devoted himself to the enjoyment of the home he had
gained by his unremitting patience and skill.

" In the interim the Shenandoah went her way looking for other spoil.
The afternoon of her wanton destruction of the whaling fleet she saw a pert
steam whaler rapidly steam-
ing through the straits and
promptly gave chase. To
her astonishment, as soon
as she was seen by the whal
er, the latter veered about
and came toward her, run
ning up the United States
flag, and a boat was lowered
and set out for her. Waddell
waited, constructing an inso-
lent reply to the entreaty for
mercy he expected. The
captain and one of the offi-
cers of the whaler came on
board. There was a bright
light in his eye and perfect

assurance in his voice as he asked for Waddell. 'You come to surrender ?'
queried the latter, after they had exchanged greetings with exaggerated po-
liteness. 'Surrender be blowed,' answered the blufif old tar, 'I ain't even going
to ask you to do that. I bring you news. The jig's up. Do you see that ?'
pulling out a paper and waving it before Waddell's eyes.

'Lee has surren-


dered to Grant at Appomattox. The Confederate States are in Davy Jones's
locker". 'I don't believe it,' blustered Waddell. 'Take them prisoners.'

"But his officers protested as one man: 'We are willing to fight for a
cause, but we are not butchers or buccaneers.' 'That's right,' said the whaler,
as he, took his leave. 'There's no cause since the ninth of April. It's buried
under the apple tree at Appomattox.'"



The sea was in frolicsome mood today,

And tumbled the pebbles within her reach,

Across the sands of the curving beach,

Like puss with a bundle of yarn at play.

Far out on the blue I could see the spray

Of the white caps, nodding each to each,

I could hear the sea gulls' plaintive screech,

As it circled, seeking its finny prey.

And the sun shone bright for the sea's delight

He has loved and wooed for ten thousand years

But the gay coquette is but laughing yet.

Though her cloudy lashes seem wet with tears;

Oh ! the sun may smile and the moon begiiile

But she clings to the old Earth all the while.

A Story of Pastoral Connecticut,



Not for man\^ years had there been so much activity displayed in the vicinity
of Indian Hollow as took place during the summer and autumn following the
purchase of the Weston farm. The dwelling had been put in good repair in-
side and out. The barns had been newly covered and painted and stored with
hay and grain. The capacious wood-shed was filled with wood ready for the
fire. The cellar was stored with vegetables. The fences were repaired, the
brush in the pastures and by the roadside had been cut and burned, the fruit
trees pruned, and the unkempt grounds about the house had been graded and
seeded down.

The few thousand dollars that Nerva had at her command when she un-
dertook the restoration of the old farm seemed to her a meagre sum indeed.
But the neighboring farmers looked upon the newcomers as wealthy city peo-
ple, with unlimited resources, driven to take up a residence in the country on
account of the poor health of the father. Attempts at familiarity, or shrewd
efforts to obtain information as to their antecedents, met with no encourage-
ment by the discreet young lady. She was gracious and cordial in her inter-
course with her neighbors, but reserved and non-committal.

There was one exception, however.

In a previous chapter I mentioned that one of the residents of Indian Hol-
low was a young man of progressive ideas, who had worked his way through
an agricultural college and had adopted methods of farming unfamiliar to his
neighbors. This young man, left to his own resources at majority, was the
nearest neighbor of the Smiths, and to him Nerva looked for advice and

Although five and twenty, and of pleasing manners and appearance, he
had never married. His widowed mother kept house for him, and whether it
was because he found her society all-sufficient, or because of his native bash-
fulness, or because he was wedded to his books and studies, that he had not
taken a wife, I will not undertake to say. At any rate, he was considered a
great " catch " by the rural belles of the vicinity, but they had never been able
to make much impression upon him.

People misjudged Leslie Burton. He was pronounced "stuck up" by the
young people. Yet there was nothing of egotism in his disposition. He was
retiring, thoughtful and studious, rather than social and demonstrative. He
was misunderstood.

Being Nerva's confidential adviser and largely the originator of the Weston
farm improvements, he was necessarily thrown into her society almost daily.
These frequent visits, of course, set all the feminine tongues wagging, but this
was entirely unknown to Nerva, as she mingled with her neighbors but little.
Leslie was to her an adviser, and she had found his advice invaluable, but she
had not thought of him in any other light.

,76 NERVA.

On the other hand, Leslie had looked upon Nerva as a superior being.
Her refinement of manner, her reserve, her stalion as the daughter of a retired
millionaire (as he supposed her to be) placed her so far above him that he
never once permitted himself to think of her in any other light than as a
wealthy city girl with quiet and eccentric tastes. Why she should prefer a
residence in the wilderness rather than at some fashionable watering place he
could understand only as an eccentricity.

One year had passed quickly away since Nerva had become the owner of
the farm. The year had brought great changes to the old place. The house
with its fresh paint and broad verandas; the neat barns; the rustic mill, where
the fuel for the fires was prepared, and the corn and rye and oats were ground
for the farm stock and poultry; the cultivated fields, and the smooth lawn, pre-
sented a marked contrast to the desolation of former years.

Nerva sat one May morning on the broad veranda. A cow-bell was tink-
ling in the pasture. Bees were humming in the cherry trees that were in full
bloom. Humming-birds were flitting from flower to flower. Robins were
piping in their cheery way, and the woods were ringing with the music of the
song birds. It was a beautiful scene that greeted her eyes. She had been
very busy the past year, and had hardly taken time to think. But now, when
everything had been reduced to a roittine and she began to have more leisure,
a feeling of loneliness took possession of her. She was thinking of other days.

As she sat thinking, the "hired man," as the New England farmhand is
called, drove up on his return from the distant village creamery, where the
cream from the farm herd was taken. He tossed a letter upon the veranda as
he passed, which Nerva quickly secured and read.

It was from an old schoolmate, one of the few of her old associates who
had not forgotten her since her change of fortune. It brought the welcome
intelligence that she was coming to pay her old friend a visit.

The next week Alice, the friend, arrived, making the whole place ring
with her laughter, and declaring it "just the sweetest old place in the world !"

Alice Van Brunt possessed one of those natures made of frolic and sun-
shine that a kind Providence has wisely bestowed upon a few choice favorites
as a blessing to mankind. They make everyone happ}' and joyful wherever
they go. They see only the sunny side of everything, and when they go into
shadowy places they light them up, disperse the gloom, and drive away haunt-
ing melancholy.

Alice was so delighted with this quiet nook in the country that she soon
sent for her mother and two young lady cousins. As a natural consequence,
masculine relatives found time to pay them a flying visit; and two young men,
enamored of the two young lady cousins, also concluded to spend a two weeks'
vacation there, finding lodgings at neighboring farm-houses.

Nerva thus found herself obliged to play the hostess, which she did grace-
fully, besides adding to her little store of cash something substantial in the
way of remuneration.

Adjacent lands were purchased by some of the visitors attracted to the
locality by the glowing accounts of the summer sojourners; and Nerva parted
with some of the waste lands bordering the mill pond at a good profit. This
land was improved by the purchasers, who also contracted for the erection of
two summer cottages in time for use during the following summer.

NERVA. 177

Following the advice of Leslie, Nerva cleared up adjoining lands, built a
drive around the pond and through the neighboring wood, built a neat summer
house upon the summit of the cliff overlooking a wide extent of country, and
erected three neat cottages to be rented or sold the following season. An ice
house was also erected in an out-of-the way nook convenient to the lake, which
was filled during the winter.

Nerva was not disappointed in her expectations. All the preparations she
had made were needed the following summer, for people came and went, tax-
ing the accommodations of the place to the utmost. More cottages were built,
more lots sold, and greater improvements made. A large, marshy meadow
adjoining the lake was excavated, the muck being utilized as an absorbent for
fertilizing purposes, and the capacity of the lake was doubled. Light row-boats
were added to the attractions of the place, and a small wharf was constructed.

The fourth summer brought a still greater influx of city people, and the
place experienced quite a real estate boom. Building lots brought nearly as
much as the whole original farm. All the milk, butter and eggs that could be
produced were needed for the consumption of the summer residents. Vegeta-
bles and fruit were in great demand. Butchers, bakers and grocerymen made
daily trips for orders, and Indian Hollow became a flourishing summer resort.

It was on a bright October day after the season was ended, and Nerva had
settled down, rather enjoying the solitude after the excitement and rush of the
summer, that she received a letter from her former lover. He had heard from
friends of the success she had achieved as a manager, and it occurred to him
that such a woman would make a valuable wife, particularly as he had experi-

Online LibraryWilliam Columbus FerrilThe Connecticut quarterly (Volume 2) → online text (page 18 of 46)