Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Sign of Trouble to Come

This brief untitled story is from the Covington Journal of October 26, 1861 and is a precursor of a major controversy that would become a much-discussed international incident a couple of weeks later. I wonder if anybody who read this paper when it was published realized what this might mean.

The Federal Government has dispatched the gun-boats Connecticut, Alabama and Augusta to intercept the steamer Nashville, which it is said run (sic) the blockade at Charleston, with Messrs. Slidell and Mason on board. Meanwhile the Richmond Enquirer asserts positively that the Nashville has not left the harbor of Charleston. 
Of course, Slidell and Mason ended up using another steamer (the Theodora) to get past the blockade and had left Charleston on October 12, two weeks before this piece was published. (The Journal was a weekly newspaper, so printing some stories late was a natural effect of that schedule.) The Theodora took the Confederate diplomats to Cuba, where they boarded the Trent and soon became part of controversy and history.

Here is a timeline on what became known as the Trent Affair.

Here is a good blog entry from the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial blog about this incident, including the report from Union Captain Charles Wilkes about his actions.

James M Mason, courtsey
John Slidell, courtesy


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