CIVIL WAR ON THE INDIAN RIVER
O.R. acting Historian Carolyn Leaman received from Shirley Birlingham
the following valuable piece of information, January, 2008
Shirley wrote: "Think this may be "in the box", but I am setting up a new computer
and don't want it to be wiped out. signed, Shirley
North Hutchinson Island Part of the Civil War?
"Civil War on the Indian River"
"Report of Volunteer
Acting Masters Mate Crane, U. S. Navy, regarding the capture of the schooner Charm in the Indian River." This history
is from a report Masters Mate Henry A. Crane wrote to his superior officer Lt. Commander Earl English, from his Pickett
ship which was in Jupiter Inlet, on February 8, 1863; To English's gun boat, the U. S. Segamore, which had been patrolling
off the east coast of Florida.
This area was busy with blockade runners smuggling southern draft dodgers and cotton out
of the south to the Bahamas and eventually, England. Also, rum and other contraband was being smuggled in. On February 20,
1863, Crane decided to take his Pickett ship up the Indian River. He traveled at night to avoid detection.On February
22nd, he laid to "in the narrows" of the Indian River and explored a lagoon on the eastern banks.
Here in the Mangrove, he found several places where cotton had been stored and at the eastern most end of the lagoon he
found a perfect little shipyard with a trail leading to the beach only a short distance away.
In his report, Crane wrote
to English, "From the point we had a full view of the blockading bark, (another federal ship) and your steamer. I
could easily see boats leaving either vessel." On the 23rd of February, he sailed his ship up the Indian
River northward where they reached a cove about 5 miles above the mouth of the St. Sebastian River. "About 2:00 p.m.,"
Crane writes, "I discovered a schooner bearing down and apparently filled with men. From their numbers and general
careless manner upon the deck, I at once arrived at the conclusion that they were rebels designing to act on the offensive."
The schooner continued down the Indian River, with Crane's Pickett ship running under foresail, keeping to the schooners
eastern side. By sunset the two ships had reached the narrows where the day before Crane had discovered traces of cotton
and the perfect little shipyard. Crane knew at darkness the schooner would have to "bring up" because the channel
in the narrows is quite shallow. He lowered his sails watching the current which was in his favor. "The moon was high
and shown very clear, keeping out of view as much as possible until sunset was important, as the darkness would favor
our disparity in numbers. At or near midnight, the masts of the schooner were visible; we could easily hear the crew hauling
her over the oyster bars". At this juncture, he wrote, "I placed a man in our stem, with instructions to push
us towards her with all his force. In a few minutes we were along side the schooner, mounted her deck and demanded a surrender,
which was instantly complied with." His report continues, "We secured their arms, correspondence, etc. I found
12 men on board and the vessel, she being entirely empty and proved to be the Charm. Captain Titus from Nassau, New
Providence commanded her."
It is written in
"Tales of Old Brevard", that Colonel Titus as he was later called, name sake of "Titusville, was a blockade
runner in the Indian River during the Civil War.
report continues, "On our bow another vessel some distance from us." He ordered the sails hoisted, and he was
about to run her down. At his point, Captain Titus said, "it was a slooploaded with cotton and no one on board." Crane placed 2 of his sailors on board the sloop and at
sunrise they all sailed down the Indian River to the Indian River Inlet at Fort Capron, just north of present day Fort
Pierce. They arrived at Fort Capron on the morning of February 27th and Crane writes, "We have been on
our feet for 72 hours and with very little refreshment." Since he and his crew were exhausted and unable to spot
his commander aboard the federal vessel U. S. Sagamore, he hailed the Federal Bark, Gem of the Sea and asked assistance.
Crane turned over to the "Gem of the Sea," the provisions, schooner, the cotton sloop and passengers including
fantastic piece of history was found by the late Homer N. Cato of Micco while he was on holiday in Spain. Homer, a local
and very well known Archaeologist, saw a group of students looking in a book in a small flea market on a Spanish street
in Seville, Spain. When the students left, Homer went to see what the book was about. To his surprise, he found it was
a large black bound book printed in the United States in 1903. "Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navy's
in the War of the Rebellion." Imagine Homer's astonishment while thumbing through the book when he spotted Crane's
account of the war, right there on Homer's back doorstep. When Cato arrived home book and charts in hand, he and historian
Weona Cleveland immediately found the area written about, and eventually found traces of the perfect little boatyard
from 110 years before now overgrown in the Mangroves. This chance of chances brought history to reality right here on
the Indian River.
published in "Trader Jakes"- issue 108 - July 21, 2004
using OCR, January 7, 2012 by Carolyn Leaman