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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Clarence

 

(Half Brig: t. 253; l. 114'; b. 24'; dr. 11'; a. 1 12-pdr. how.)

 

Clarence, also known as Coquette, was built at Baltimore, Md., in 1857 for J. Crosby, a Baltimore fruit dealer. While transporting a cargo of coffee from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Baltimore, Md., she was captured by CSS Florida on 6 May 1863. Comdr. J. N. Maffitt, CSN, commanding Florida, placed Clarence under Lt. C. W. Read, with 20 men as a prize crew. Lieutenant Read had requested that, rather than burn Clarence, he might try, with the ship's papers, to sail into Hampton Roads, Va., and if possible destroy or capture a Federal gunboat and burn Union merchant vessels congregated at Fortress Monroe. Commander Maffitt armed Clarence with one gun so that Read might capture prizes on his way to Hampton Roads.

 

En route to Virginia, Clarence captured the bark Windward, also known as Whistling Wind, on 6 June 1863, and on the next day the schooner Alfred H. Partridge. On 9 June she captured the brig Mary Alvina. From his prisoners Read learned that all vessels were restricted from Hampton Roads which was unusually well guarded, and he decided that his original plan would be impossible.

 

On 12 June Clarence captured the bark Tacony, and then immediately captured the schooner M. A. Shindler. Lieutenant Read transferred his force to Tacony, a better sailer than Clarence, and while this was being done, Clarence intercepted her last prize, the schooner Kate Stewart. Clarence was then burned after her short but unusually successful career, and Lieutenant Read and his men continued on Tacony to harass Union commerce along the Atlantic coast.