Thursday, February 2, 2012

CSS Nashville in England

The second Confederate commerce raider to put to sea was the steamer CSS Nashville. It was a problematic cruise and not nearly as successful as Sumter's.  Under the command of Lieutenant Robert Pegram, Nashville made a dash out of Charleston to Bermuda in October 1861. She had to remain in Bermuda until November to repair damages after striking a reef in Charleston Harbor.  After leaving Bermuda, the ship headed east towards England. She found the clipper ship Harvey Birch and burned her.  It was the only capture of the eastward journey.  High seas severely damaged the upper deck, washing away the wheelhouse a portion of the hurricane deck.  She arrived in Southampton, England, battered and bruised, on November 21.

The stay in Southampton was not a happy one. British authorities refused any assistance beyond fixing Nashville enough to get her back to sea. Unknown arsonists then attempted to torch the ship while she was in dry dock. Finally, the steam sloop USS Tuscarora arrived in Southampton with the express intent of engaging and capturing Nashville (image at right is Nashville at Southampton with Tuscarora in the background).

USS Tuscarora as depicted in the London Illustrated News

Fortunately for for Pegram, the British did not play favorites.  They informed Tuscarora's commanding officer, Commander Tunis Augustus Macdonough Craven, that he would have to wait a full twenty-four hours after Nashville left before his ship could leave.  With the steam frigate HMS Shannon standing a close watch next to Tuscarora, Pegram put to sea on February 3.  Nashville steamed west towards Bermuda.

1 comment:

  1. My grandmother's Irish born father was a civil war veteran.
    My great grandfather came to the U.S. in 1850 at age 17 and became a U.S. citizen.
    After enlisting in the navy in Philadelphia in Nov. 1861 he was subsequently assigned to the USS Tuscarora, as she patrolled the North Atlantic waters seeking Confederate blockade runners. An accident aboard the USS Tuscarora led to his return to the U.S. and his discharge at the Boston naval hospital in 1863.
    His naval service history is documented in the National Archives, along with widow's pension file.
    For additional insight in the Southampton events, please refer to "The Nashville Affair" by John Bennett at published online by the American Civil War Roundtable UK.