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Running Under the Influence

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US Covers and Postal History98 of 100Maiden Voyage of the CSS LaurelTrading With The Enemy
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Posted 4 years ago

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The cover below was carried on the exceptionally well documented trip of the blockade-runner Lilian, also spelled Lillian, from Bermuda to Wilmington in June 1864. James M. Morgan, a passenger on the harrowing voyage devoted a chapter in his book "Recollections of A Rebel Reefer" to this trip.

The steamer was carrying onboard several CS Naval personnel including Morgan and Lieutenant William P. A. Campbell. However, as a private ship, the duty of captain went to a Daniel Martin. As the Lillan approached Cape Fear River she was pursued by the USS Shenandoah. Due to an inept approach by Martin, who had already started drinking brandy, the slower sailing ship was able to gain on the Lilian by deploying full sail. After a projectile from the Shenandoah passed a few feet from Martin's position on the bridge "he came scampering down the ladder, screaming 'haul that flag down.' I will not have anymore lives sacrificed!" although nothing besides the paddleboxes had yet been touched. CSN Lt. Campbell took command immediately and commanded:
"kill the first man who touches those flag halyards."

Campbell then changed course and managed to avoid further damage by edging-in to the shoals with the help of the approaching dark and the protection of Fort Fisher's guns. The Lilian arrived safely at Wilmington the following morning. Martin was "found in his berth dead drunk with an empty bottle of brandy beside him." The report of USN Captain Ridgely of the Shenandoah detailing the chase mentions that 140 shots were fired.

Posted by Richard Frajola

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