JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 331
Harry Stoneman, the commander of the U.S. naval vessel, the Gun Boat Snake-Head, reported a battle in this broadside (found in the collection of the Library of Congress) fought between himself and a "female privateer" at the foggy Yazoo Pass in 1863.
I have little doubt that the battle was probably ferocious, but I do have some lingering doubt that it was more ferocious than the reporting of it. There is much in Stoneman's prose to suggest whistling canon balls and smoke and boardings and sinkings and such, but I have a feeling there was much fumbling between the wo ships, and that in the end, the "female privateer" surrendered. Stoneman overtook the vessel and got so close to it that he rammed it somewhat, somehow getting the end of his "Long Tom" into the forward port hole of the privateer. After he repaired whatever he did to his canon (the "Long Tom" being in general the largest gun on the ship or boat, and probably mounted on a swivel or pivot, forward) fired it into the privateer, "filling up her cockpit with disabled Semen [sic]". There was an explosion of some sort with the privateers can--it either was fired or exploded--with the only resulting injury being to some (mixed) yellow mustard.
But in the end all went well for the sweatty Harry Stoneman, taking the copper-bottomed enemy ship as a prize, and hustling back to whatever writing surface he had to record his victory and present it as a prize to the commodore Perrick of the Mississippi floatilla. Unfortunately I cannot find anything at all on the Snake-Head or Stoneman or for that matter Commodore Perrick (which is odd). But most of all a quick search isn't revealing anything on the most beguiling aspect of this whole story, the "female privateer".
You can click on the image for a more readable version of the broadside; also, the full text of the broadside is provided below, thanks again to a terribly industrious library employee.)
VICTORY! VICTORY! VICTORY.
"Terrific Attack on a Private Gunboat!"
Official Report from Capt. Stoneman, Gun-Boat "Snake-Head."
Yazoo Pass, Miss. March 4th, 1863.
I beg to report a most terrific engagement with a female privateer, which happened three miles below here, on the night of the 1st inst. The conflict, for about half an hour, was one of great fierceness, but most luckily for our side no one was hurt.
About nine o'clock on the night of the 1st inst., as I was feeling my way up the Yazoo, and when opposite a dense swamp, I discovered a mysterious craft but a very short distance ahead of me, which I soon discovered to be a female privateer. Putting on a full head of steam, I soon overhauled the craft, and finding it necessary to bring her too, I immediately ran out my "Long Tom," and so close were we by this time, that my "Long Tom," ran into her bow Port Hole at least six inches. I will here state that this craft had only two Port Holes, one in the bow for a Long Gun, and one in the stern for bombarding. Finding it impossible to become disconnected from the enemy, I soon fired the contents of my "Long Tom" into her bow Port Hole, which filled her cockpit with disabled Semen.-- This caused her to press hard against my starboard, and for a time I had to haul off.
The last attack soon became general, and we fired load for load, until we both exhausted our ammunition. If any thing gives me pain, it is that I am forced to say, my "Long Tom" was most awfully disabled during this brief engagement. Seeing my enemy lying there in a tempting, saucy manner, I made sundry repairs to my "Long Tom," such as repairing the breach, by strengthening the parts by a solution of starch and water, and from the appearance of the Gun Carriage, I concluded to resume active operations; I at once double-charged my "Long Tom," and all being ready I was soon along side of her again, as keen as ever. I commenced the attack with great fierceness, being determined to open her about water-mark, if possible; at the first charge my "Long Tom" went home, and two balls struck her in the stern. I fired until I thought I had torn both of her Port Holes into one, when all at once her stern gun" exploded with a terrific crash, and almost lifted me out of the water. I was greatly excited, for we had got to close quarters, and on examination I found the enemy had sprung a leak, but yet she did not appear to be in a sinking condition. The scene now was truly sublime. There we lay, like two cocks silently contemplating each other, and each undetermined whether to renew the attack, but finding my "Long Tom" again in a bad condition for renewal of the attack, I hauled off to repair, and, if possible, ascertain the damage done by my "Long Tom" to this mysterious cruiser; and I soon discovered her damage to be very slight. The only real damage appearing to be an enlargement of her bow Port Hele, where my "Long Tom" had entered. Her stern was apparently uninjured, but in a dirty condition, the explosion having knocked the head out of a barrel of Mixed Yellow Mustard.
Finding it impossible to make her escape from the range of my "Long Tom," she surrendered, and I must confess she is a valuable prize, being full rigged and copper-bottomed, and being of good stuff, I would recommend her as your Flag ship of this squadron. She being copper-built, it will take the untiring efforts of her commander to keep her in trim. The two balls that struck her, struck just between wind and water, but she stood the shock nobly, and did not give an inch.
Trusting this report may be perfectly satisfactory, and hoping ere long I may be able to capture another such prize, merely to keep my "Long Tom" in practice.
I remain, Respectfully Yours,
Capt. Gun-Boat "Snake-Head."