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Coquette

 

(StwStr: t. 238)

 

Coquette was built in 1859 at Mobile, Ala., and served the Confederate navy as a blockade runner based at Wilmington, N.C. In 1864 she was under the command of Lt. Robert R. Carter, CSN, and in the spring of that year she imported two marine engines past the Federal blockade into Wilmington.

 

(ScStr: t. 300; l. 220'; b. 25'; dph. 12'2"; dr. 10'; s. 13.5 k.)

 

Coquette was a 200-horsepower, twin-screw, iron steamer, with three masts, schooner rigged, built in Scotland at Renfrew—perhaps by Hoby & Son. Her purchase by the Confederate Navy was arranged through Comdr. James D. Bulloch, CSN agent in Britain, in September 1863. She carried large cargoes of cotton— up to 1,259 bales—out of the Confederacy, running back in with indispensable loads of munitions.

 

Although successful for some months, her boiler tubes became clogged with scale from inadequate maintenance in this most exacting service. Secretary Mallory, fearing she would be captured, wrote Commander Bulloch 10 August 1864 that she must be "sold in consequence of her decreasing speed." Bulloch confirmed in his reply that, "this vessel was bought for a special purpose and, notwithstanding some defects has been a very profitable piece of property to the [Navy] Department." But she "broke down and had to return to Bermuda and***waited three months for machinery from England." At this juncture, Messrs. W. W. Pinney, B. P. Ficklen and J. R. Anderson & Co. (Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond), consented to take her for £16,000.

 

Coquette was laid up in Nassau at war's end, when a Southern agent of the owners went there to try to get possession of her before she was seized by the United States. A certain Capt. Richard Squires accordingly took her into Baltimore, where he arrived six days later, 17 December 1865, and turned her over to the Government, for which he had been an undercover agent all along.