Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Civil War Oddities #110

Late in the war, Egyptian dignitaries decided to send a blooded stallion to Jefferson David as a gift. Shipped across the Atlantic on the Banshee, a British owned blockade-runner, all went well until the vessel tried to slip into Wilmington, North Carolina, under cover of darkness. When the neighing of the white Arabian horse was heard aboard a Federal blockading vessel, its crewmembers moved into action.

Chased into shoal water twenty miles southwest of Beaufort by the USS Grand Gulf, the captain of the Banshee chose to surrender to men aboard the transport steamer Fulton rather than to the captain of the pursuing warship. As senior military officer on the vessel, Major James E. Bailey of the Third Rhode Island Artillery formally accepted the surrender.

Bailey’s December 24, 1863, report stressed that the Banshee and her cargo were prizes of war belonging to the men who were on the Fulton at the time of her capture. However, his account of the capture failed to mention the blooded Egyptian horse bound for Richmond. As a result, official records do not indicate what became of the animal that crossed the Atlantic safely, but never bore on its back the president of the Confederacy.