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Georgiana

 

(ScStr: t. 519 [407]; l. 205.6'; b. 25.2'; dph. 14.9'; dr. over 41')

 

Georgiana was a brig-rigged, iron propeller of 120 horsepower and had clipper bow, jib, and two masts, hull and stack painted black. She was built by the Lawrie shipyard at Glasgow—perhaps under subcontract from Lairds of Birkenhead (Liverpool)—and registered at that port in December 1862 as belonging to N. Matheson's Clyde service. The London American took special note of her in its 28 January 1963 edition as a "powerful" steamer and remarked that her officers wore gold lace on their caps, considered a sure indication she was being groomed for a man-o'-war. The U. S. Consul at Teneriffe was rightly apprehensive of her as being "evidently a very swift vessel."

 

Attempting to run into Charleston, S.C., through Maffitt's Channel on 19 March 1865, she was spotted by the yacht America which quickly brought gunfire from USS Wissahickon, crippling Georgiana. Capt. A. B. Davidson flashed a white light in token of surrender, thus gaining time to beach his ship in 14 feet of water, three-quarters of a mile offshore and escape on the land side with all hands; this was construed as "the most consummate treachery" by the disappointed blockading crew.

 

Capt. Thomas Turner, station commodore, reported to Admiral S. F. du Pont that Georgiana was evidently "sent into Charleston to receive her officers, to be fitted out as a cruiser there. She had 140 men on board, with an armament of guns and gun carriages in her hold, commanded by a British naval retired officer." There seems to be no reason to dispute his facts or figures.

 

Lt. Comdr. J. L. Davis, USN, commanding Wissahickon, decided to set the wreck afire lest guerrilla bands from shore try to salvage her or her cargo: she burned for several days accompanied by large explosions when lots of powder succumbed to the flames.