Page images
PDF
EPUB

Soon after his return in the St. Louis, on recovering from a congestive fever, the seeds of which were planted at Norfolk, Passed Midshipman Preble was married. The next spring he was ordered, May 30, 1846, to join the gunboat Petrel at New York, as Acting Master and executive officer. The Petrel was a small schooner, of seventyfour tons, mounting one heavy twenty-four pounder on a pivot. She had been built for the Mexicans, but was purchased by our government on the commencement of its hostilities with Mexico. The Petrel was present at and a participator in the surrender of Alvarado, Laguna, Tampico and Panuco, and assisted at the siege, bombardment and capitulation of Vera Cruz and the Fortress of San Juan de Ulloa. After the capitulation of Vera Cruz, his health having become impaired by the harassing service of blockading in so small a vessel as the Petrel, which he did not put his foot outside of for months at a time, except to visit the Flag Ship for orders, Acting Master Preble was invalided, and sent North in the Ohio, 74. He reached his home May 31, 1847, and July 15, 1847, received a warrant as “ Master in the line of Promotion." He was commissioned a Lieut., Feb. 5, 1848, and at the same time ordered to the Sloop-of-War Saratoga, Commander William C. Nicholson. In the Saratoga he returned to the Gulf, where his health becoming again impaired, he was after a year's service once more compelled to leave the station, March 1, 1849, and return North. His removal from an unhealthy climate and return via the Mississippi river so far recruited his health, that he immediately applied for active service, and was ordered, April 30, 1849, to the U.S. Coast Survey, and attached to the Steamer Legree, as her executive officer. He continued on Coast Survey duty, on board the Legree and several other vessels, until, by his own request, he was ordered to the Frigate St. Lawrence, Commander Joshua Sands, which conveyed the American contributions to the World's Fair in 1851. By request of Prof. A. D. Bache, Supt. of the U.S. Coast Survey, &c., he assumed charge of the standard weights and measures of the United States contributed by him, and saw them properly set up and exhibited in the Crystal Palace. It was ordered the St. Lawrence should, after landing her stores, proceed to France, and bring thence to the United States the remains of Commodore John Paul Jones, but they could not be found,* and she, instead, carried to Lisbon our newly appointed Minister the Hon. Charles Haddock, with his wife and niece.

He continued until, by his own Sands, w

• It was asserted that the cemetery in which that revolutionary hero was buried at Paris, had been levelled and built over, and that the bones of its silent inhabitants (Paul Jones's included with those of common clay) had been collected and made into charcoal, for the manufacture of gunpowder. The heirs of Paul Jones also objected to the removal of his remains, unless by the expressed wish of the United States Government.

After a passage protracted by calms and head winds, the St. Law. rence returned from Lisbon to New York, where she arrived, August 6th, and was put out of commission on the 21st, when Lieut. Preble was immediately ordered back to the Coast Survey, and continued on duty connected with it and in command of the schooner Gallatin, &c., until Dec. 18, 1852, when he was ordered to the Vermont, 74, Capt. Hiram Paulding, equipping for the Japan Expedition under Commodore M. C. Perry. It being decided not to send the Vermont, Lieut. Preble was detached from her March 31, 1853, and ordered to the Macedonian, Captain Joel Abbot, another vessel of the expedition, and sailed in her from New York for China and Japan, April 13, 1853. The Macedonian participated in all the functions connected with the treaty negotiated by Commo. Perry at Yokehamma, and Lieut. Preble assisted in the surveys of Jeddo and Hakodadi Bays, and also surveyed and made a chart of the Harbor of Kealung, on the north end of the Island of Formosa, which was published in the official report of the expedition. On the return of the Macedonian to China, Lieut. Preble was ordered to command the “Queen," a steamer of 137 tons, mounting four 4-pounders, to which was added the twelve pounder boat howitzer of the Macedonian. The. Queen was chartered by Commodore Perry, previous to his sailing for Japan, for the protection of American citizens in China during the absence of the squadron. While in this command, Lieut. Preble was actively employed in co-operation with the naval forces of Great Britain and other powers in ferreting out and destroying the piratical hordes then infesting the Chinese waters. For his part in one of these joint expeditions against the pirates' stronghold at Kulan, he received the thanks of his own Commodore and of the English Admiral.*

“ UNITED STATES SHIP MACEDONIAN,

Hong Kong, Nov. 28, 1854. “Sir, I have the honor and pleasing satisfaction to transmit to you, a copy of a letter ad. dressed to me from Rear Admiral Sir James Stirling, Knt., respectfully acknowledging, in complimentary terms, the co-operation and gallant conduct evinced by you and your companions against the piratical strong-hold at Coulan. I embrace this opportunity to express to you, and through you to the officers and men and volunteers associated with you (sickness having prevented my doing so at an earlier day), my own grateful acknowledgments, not only in the affair at Coulan, but more especially for your and their good conduct and gallantry in your encounter with seventeen heavily armed piratical junks in the harbor of Tyho, and for your own prudence, zeal and excellent judgment, in obtaining assistance from the English Admiral, Sir James Stirling, by which combined force the whole were captured and destroyed together with their depot on shore. With high regard,

I am very respectfully, “To Lient. Com'dg

Your obedient servant, GEORGE HENRY PREBLE,

JOEL ABBOT,
U.S. Chartered Steamer' Queen,'

Capt. United States Navy,
Off Canton.

Commanding U. S. Squadron in the China Seas, &c."

Eight months after he assumed command of the Queen her charter expired, when she was put out of commission, March 31, 1855, and . delivered to her owner at Hong Kong. Lieut. Preble with her crew returned to the Macedonian, where he resumed his duties as a watch officer. The Macedonian sailed on the 4th of April, for Shanghai, and arrived there on the 22d of the same month. On the 28th of June, by order of Commodore Abbot, Lieut. Preble embarked on the American Steamer Confucius, with three officers and fifty men and marines from the Macedonian, for an expedition to Foo-chow-foo, designed to aid the authority of the U. S. Consul, and incidentally convoy thence two hundred and fifty timber loaded junks to Ningpo—all of which he accomplished, destroying several pirate junks on the route, which

“HER BRITANNIC MAJESTY'S SHIP WINCHESTER,'

At Hong Kong, 220 Nov., 1854. “Sir, -The joint expedition against the pirates' strong hold at Coulan, having successfully accomplished its object, I request you will convey to Lieut. Preble and his companions my respectful acknowledgments of their co-operation and for the gallant conduct evinced.

I trust that a continued exercise of the repression thus applied will tend to put a stop to the practice of piracy, which for some time past has afflicted commerce on the neighboring coasts.

I have the honor to be, Sir, “Capt. JOEL ABBOT,

Your most obed't humble servant, Commanding United States Naval Forces,

JAMES STIRLING, East India, China and Japan Seas.

Rear Admiral and Commander in Chicf."

Extract from Licut. Preble's official report of the Kulan affair :

“U.S. CHARTERED STEAMER QUEEN,

At anchor off Kulan Island, Tyloo, Nov. 13, 1854. “To Capt. JOEL ABBOT, Commanding U.S. N. Forces East India and China Seas,

United States Ship Macedonian, Hong Kong. “Sir,- I have to report that yesterday, co-operating with the forces of Her Britannic Majesty, we burnt three pirate junks in the Bay of “ Cowcock," and this forenoon destroyed by fire the town of Kulan and forty-seven piratical junks, with numerous boats, after a short and sharp resistance. A battery on shore of twenty guns was carried by the combined forces, and several smaller batteries were also captured; most of the guns were given up to the Chinese Mandarin who accompanied H. B. M. forces; we have seven small guns on board the Queen, and twelve flags. In a future despatch, I shall enter more into particulars. I forward this by Gen. Keenan, United States Consul for Hong Kong, who leaves to-night in H. M. S. Barraconta, conveying despatches to Sir James Stirling, Commander in Chief of H. B. M. forces in China. It is with extreme regret I have to inform you of the death of John Morrison, of the Macedonian,' killed on shore. His remains I have forwarded, accompanied by two of his messmates, John Bolling and William Benson, by the Barraconta, for burial at Hong Kong. I refer you to General Keenan for further particulars. We move to-morrow up the Broadway, where a number of piratical junks are reported to be, and will there wait further orders from the British Admiral.

“ The pinnace under charge of Acting Master Sproston landed with the British force, and did good service.

“Yours very respectfully,

GEORGE HENRY PREBLE,
Lieut. Commanding U.S. Chartered Steamer 'Queen.'”

attempted to cut off a portion of his convoy.* On the 4th of July, 1855, a national salute, the first ever heard on that anniversary at Foo-chow-foo, was fired from the Confucius, and the day was otherwise appropriately celebrated ; all the foreign shipping—British and American—dressed ship, and helped to commemorate the day. The junks convoyed, bad been afraid to venture to sea on account of the pirates, and had been loaded and detained so long, that the fastenings of their cargoes were decayed, and had to be renewed before they left the river. For this service Messrs. Russell & Co., as the agents of the Confucius, were paid more than $20,000, and they liberally rewarded the U.S. officers, and presented each of the men with a month's pay. On the 17th, Lieut. Preble returned with his expeditionary force to the Macedonian.

On the 3d of August, Lieut. Preble was again placed in command of a force on board the Confucius (which meanwbile had been sold to the Chinese authorities, but still retained her American flag and register), to assist in a joint British and Chinese expedition against a piratical fleet, that was and for some time past had been interrupting the trade between the North of China and Shanghai. The collier brig

“U. S. SHIP MACEDONIAN, Shanghai, June 28, 1855. “ Sir, Representations are made to me of an excited and critical state of affairs at Foochow-foo, in which the American Consul, Caleb Jones, Esq., is involved. He is making every exertion to quiet and restore to order existing affairs, and render justice and protection to all parties as far as his own personal influence and authority can exert and command, for in the absence of military force to aid him he has nothing but his own personal exertions upon which to rely.

“Representations are also made to me that the whole coast between this and Amoy is infestpa by piratical hordes, which greatly endanger and annoy commerce. The American steamer Confucius being about to make a trip to Foo-chow-foo, Amoy, and back, touching perhaps at some intermediate ports, and her Commander and Agent being desirous of having an armed force from this ship put on board of her, for her protection and that of our commerce, and if possible to capture some of the pirates which ipfest the coast, they have offered a free passage to such force of officers and men, to the extent of her accommodations. You are therefore directed to consult with the Commander of the Confucius and agents if necessary, and select such force of officers and men from this ship, properly armed and cquipped, as you may deem necessary, and provided with provisions for twenty-five days. With this force you will repair on board the Confucius as soon as she is ready to receive you, and will command and direct it for the purposes herein named.

“You will confer with the American Consul at Foo-chow-foo and aid and assist him all in your power. I have referred him to you touching your expedition, and have bespoken for you his friendly aid and co-operation if any such should be needed. “With the hope that you will have a pleasant and prosperous cruise,

I am very respectfully, your obedient servant, “ Lieut. Geo. H. PREBLE,

JOEL ABBOT, United States Ship Macedonian.

Commanding U. S. Squadron,

East India, China and Japan Seas." + " UNITED STATES FLAG SHIP MACEDONIAN,

Shanghai, August 3, 1855. “ Sir, I am informed that a large number of piratical junks are now assembled at or near a place called Shantung, attacking and plundering everything that comes in their way

Clown was to have supplied the Confucius with fuel, but from hav. ing been overloaded by the Chinese, and being a weak and crazy old vessel, foundered at sea before reaching the appointed rendezvous at Shautung promontory; this loss necessitated the return of the Confucius to Shanghai on the 18th of August, after getting as far as Chefow, in the Gulf of Pechile—the Confucius being a side-wheeled boat without sails or spars, and entirely dependent upon her engines, and it having been ascertained no coal was to be had that she could burn. The objects of the expedition were, however, accomplished by her consorts H. B. M. Brig Bittern, Commander E. W. Vansittart, towed by the English screw Steamer Paushan. Ten days after his return in the Confucius, on the 28th of August, Lieut. Preble again went out in her to the rescue of some people seen by a passing vessel on a group of barren rocks off the coast, and supposed to have been shipwrecked. An examination of these rocky islets proved them to be Chinese fishermen, who were inhabitants, and had their boats in crevices high up, to secure them from the stormy waves, and who having built their eyries on the very top of the rocks, were not desirous of being taken off. Returning through the Chusan Archipelago, three piratical junks were run down or run on shore and burnt, and several of their crews inade prisoners, taken to Shanghai, and delivered to the Chinese authorities of that city. The chief pirate, however, slipping his hands out of irons, deliberately walked overboard when twenty miles at sea, rather than meet the fate he knew awaited him at Shanghai. During all this time, under the orders of the Commodore, and at request of the United States Consul and Tautoe, Lieut. Preble, when not upon these expeditions, was engaged in examining, in the Confucius, the inner and outer waters of the Woosung river leading up to Shanghai, and preparing sailing directions for that port.† These directions were univer

(with which they can cope), and whose operations are such as greatly to interfere with our trade and commerce. And being requested to put an armed force on board the Confucius to aid and assist in destroying them if possible, you are hereby directed to select such officers and men from this ship as you deem sufficient, properly armed and equipped and provisioned for twenty-five to thirty days. You will take charge of this detachment and proceed on the expedition as soon as practicable.

“I understand Commander E. W. Vansittart, R. N., in command of H. B. M. Brig Bittern, will accompany the expedition; if so, your friendly co-operation with him is very desirable.

“I am respectfully, your obedient servant, “ Lieut. GEORGE H. PREBLE,

JOEL ABBOT,
Macedonian.

Commanding U. S. Squadron,

East India, China and Japan Seas." + “UNITED STATES FLAG SHIP MACEDONIAN,

Shanghai, July 25, 1855. “ Sir, It having been agreed by his excellency, Chaon, Superintendent of the Customs for the Province of “Keansan,” in a conference with R. C. Murphy, Esq., U. S. Consul and myself, with regard to the improvement of the navigation of the Yang tse Kiang, and sub

« PreviousContinue »