Ships in the night
Dimensions: 240 feet X 30ft X 13 ft (draft?)
Armament: 4X 32 pounders, 1X 84 pounder,
Machinery: 2 X 200 hp steam engines; 2 screws;mast and sail
Speed: 20 knots
Cyrus had been a happy Marine in the British Royal Navy, and had quite the reputation in combat leading to far more leeway in his actions than most officers enjoyed. Even more than some of the highest ranking admirals. However, during the American war for independence, Cyrus switched sides after a particularly nasty incident in his camp involving two Native Americans that were captured snooping around the camp. He then served the Colonies with a determination to right such wrongs with a fervor that frankly scared even his target turned friend Horatio. That is until one night came along and a very strange thing happened to him. While he was asleep after helping in the humiliating defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown, he was transported to the time right before the start of the American Civil War. After the initial shock of this change wore off, Cyrus made a name for himself as a blockade runner for the CS navy since for some reason he saw justice in the Confederate cause even though it flew right in the face of the ideals he fought for in the Revolution. This is a story of that rise to prominence.
Vicksburg, MS 1861
Cyrus Marsh stood on a dock in the busy Confederate port city of Vicksburg and stared at the vessel that would be under his command as soon as his orders were cut. To him she looked a bit odd since she had two funnels and a small cabin like structure sitting in the middle of her main deck and only was armed with five guns. He knew those guns were much better than he had been around in his original time but he still found it odd to have so few. Also something that struck him as odd was that his ship had what looked to him to be light armor plating running around the outside of the gun deck protecting the guns and he had been told that the hull was double thick around the engine areas. He didn't really understand engines but they would move his ship faster than anything of equal size that was under sail alone. " This time period is so weird to me still." Cyrus mumbled to himself and would have swished his tail but he was hiding in human form since he knew the Confederacy would not be so accepting at this time of his real identity. " Why did I join this side again?" He asked himself as he turned and headed up the river bank towards the Courthouse that would be where he received his orders from. He knew the Union forces would soon be making their moves to cut off Vicksburg from supply and it was his job to break out and run the naval blockade that the Union had on the ocean ports of the South and then reach Europe or the Caribbean to get supplies in and out to provide funding to the war effort. Maybe it was the underdog feeling that had drawn him to the CS side even though he detested the slavery system. " Why do I always seem to join what should be the loosing side? Although the south most likely will loose and I will have to figure some way to keep my ship and commission." He mumbled to himself to keep others from hearing.
A few days later
Cyrus stood at the wheel of his ship that was oddly located in the open on the stern instead of the structure he had been told was the bridge but there was a secondary wheel there for when the weather got too rough or if they ran across a hostile ship.
A call was heard at the bow of the ship and the lines were cast off that had been holding the ship to the dock while the anchor was raised." All ahead one third!" Cyrus called out and the order was passed to the engine room. Seconds later, the propellers were heard biting into the muddy water and Cyrus turned the wheel hard to starboard to swing the ship away from the bank and out into the main channel. Once there he called out again. " Back down a bit leaving me enough to maneuver but we're gonna let the current carry us for awhile. No need to tax the engines in a decent current like this. Run up to foresails to give us a bit more speed to take the strain even more!" The orders were rapidly passed along as the odd but elegant looking ship slowly moved away from the city of her birth for most likely the last time. A parting full firing of her guns was fired as she passed under the big guns of South Fort before she rounded the bend of the river and disappeared into the early morning fog.
Three Weeks Later
Key West Florida
C.S.S Vicksburg had made it safely through the Gulf of Mexico without encountering a single enemy ship. She was now making a short stop to refill her coal bunkers even though she had been under full sail and no steam while on the way out, a decent amount had been used to safely navigate the treacherous Mississippi River and Cyrus wanted to have a full load before trying to run the gauntlet up to Charleston before making a run for England and France. He hoped he wouldn't need to use the engines until after Charleston even though it would take him longer than if he did use them but he was still learning his ships performance in open water and wasn't quite ready to stress the engines unless he had to since he was wary of the tech to begin with. He knew sails would work unless there was no wind and didn't require fuel or send up a tell tail smoke column. He knew with a good wind behind her his boat could make almost 15 knots on sail alone. 18 with engines alone but if he combined sail and engines he could get up to 20 knots in the right conditions. He knew he would need everything his ship and crew had to get past the picket boats and the long range interceptors the Union ran. Another part he really looked forward to was taking on a raider roll to sink and capture Union shipping if he so chose to do so. He would only be sent to get supplies on an as need basis and sadly this was one of those times so raiding was mostly out of the question unless something came up between Key West and Charleston. " Well this should get fun. I always did enjoy the Southern Seas. Much better climate. " He chortled to himself as he watched his crew finish loading supplies. Shortly after they weighed anchor and headed North with a nice brisk wind behind them pushing the graceful ship along at a pleasant speed that Cyrus was content with. Half a week later they made Charleston and took on the goods to be sold in Europe for weapons and other needed goods. Cyrus would have left in the night as most Captains would do in his situation but he had a favorable wind and felt he could make open sea without being caught. He still had the engines steam pressure kept up and ready to go should the need arise.
Several miles off the South Carolina coast.
" Sail ho!" The lookout above shouted. " Two points off port bow and coming fast. They ain't alone either!."
" s**t!" Cyrus cursed out loud. " All hands to battle stations! Run out the guns and prepare for surface action port should they get in range! Full canvas and all ahead flank! I want to get out of here before they can catch us!" The Vicksburg's sails unfurled completely and smoke poured from her stacks as the propeller blades began to bite into the sea and speed gradually built lifting the bow up out of the waves a bit and putting a bow wave halfway up the prow of the ship. The big 84 pound gun swung out to port on it's circular track on the bow as the smaller 32 pounders on the port side were rolled out through their gun ports. Cyrus really hoped he could get ahead of the approaching ships and just straight out run them but his hopes were dashed as his own eyes say the ships turn and make for an intercept course in a line that would put all their guns on one side on him to his one big gun on the bow. " Swing the bow gun forward and prepare for action forward. Damage control do what you can if we get holed!" The big gun slowly swung forward to an angle that would allow it to engage the enemy hopefully outside of their range and keep them at bay long enough to get away.
" Alright Cyrus lets see if we can get out of this one. It isn't like in the old war or on land. Cyrus was startled as the bow gun went off with a roar. Sending the roughly five inch diameter ball screaming toward the enemy at what Cyrus felt was too long a range for the gun but was surprised once again when he saw the shell take top of the foremast off of the lead ship but his joy was short lived as the sides of both ships were engulfed in a cloud of white smoke and close to 30 rounds came screaming in towards him. Thankfully all but a few missed and those that did hit only hit the armor around the top of the deck. The range was all that saved his ship from damage as the force of the shots was spent in the air. Cyrus swung hard to starboard and ordered the sails angled to keep the wind in them leading his ship angling away from the enemy forcing them to turn again as his bow gun continued to spit rounds towards them making a few more noticeable hits.
" Thank God they are only frigates and don't have more guns to shoot at us than that or we would be in trouble."
" Sir They appear to be breaking off! That last hit looks like it took a big chunk out of the bow of the lead ship and the other is stopping to help!" The lookout called down once more.
" Thank god. Secure from flank to all ahead full. We'll run at that speed for awhile and then return to only full sail!" Cyrus swung his ship back onto a more easterly course but still angling away from the enemy to gain ground away from them if the second ship decided to pursue them further.
Hampton Roads Virginia
The two ships that Cyrus ad engaged slowly limped back into port and their captains gave their report of the encounter.
" Sir a new blockade runner made it through. This time though in broad daylight unlike previous ships. Also her gunnery was quite good for what undoubtedly is a new crew. Took the bow of my ship almost clean off, and then hauled a** to the east while we had to retire. I would have sent my escort after her but there was no way they would have caught that ship. It's captain knows how to get every ounce of speed out of her and would have left us in the dust."
The admiral in charge sighed and looked down at his desk. " Thank you Captains. Was there anything you could see of the crew on deck? Or was the range too great to tell detail? "
" Sir I got a glimpse of the Captain at the wheel. All I could tell was that he wore a rather odd looking jacket and wore a rather short looking saber on his hip."
" I see." The Admiral said as he rubbed his chin." What did this jacket look like?"
" It was like an old British Marine's officer jacket but the color was all wrong. Instead of read and white, it was black and brown."
The admiral raised an eyebrow." Thank you captain that will be all." Both captains left the room and headed back to the docks to oversee the repairs to their ships
" Well well well. Seems like you finally showed back up Cyrus my friend. Buy what drove you to join the Rebels instead of the Union? Most troubling and puzzling conundrum you have now put me in." The admiral mumbled to himself as he ran his palm against the handle of the fighting knife hanging from his belt and eyed the slightly battered crossbow hung on the wall. " Do we once again have to cross blades against each other or can i find you and bring you to your senses old friend?" Horatio slowly stood up and stretched his old muscles with a sigh." I'm too old for this kind of thing these days. Surely you must have aged after your disappearance that night." Horatio left his office and headed towards the offices of his superiors to give them the news of the new raider/runner on the seas. He would however retain the possible identification of the captain to himself until further evidence was gathered.
Mid Atlantic around the same time
Cyrus was rather pleased with his ships performance up to this point. So far he and his crew had sunk three ships, damaged two warships while managing to escape once again and were making good time still to make France within the proper window assigned. However, He was not pleased with how much he was having to use his engines currently. The wind had turned to a unfavorable direction not allowing for use of full sail and the last thing He wanted to do was run out of fuel and then need it if more warships were encountered, Thankfully though, there shouldn't be any hostile warships this far out to sea according to reports he had been given before leaving the 'friendly' waters around the Confederacy. Cyrus looked up at the main mast where the Confederate Naval flag fluttered in the wind fitfully. "Curse this weather. We could be moving more stealthily if we could run full sail. I only dare run at ahead half right now to conserve fuel but damn do these engines chew through coal like nobodies business. May have to stop in the Canary Islands to get some more coal just to make France at the consumption rate we are going at." Cyrus turned to his second in command " You have the helm. I'm going to go stretch my legs for a minute."
" Aye Sir."
Cyrus made his way to the bow of the ship and leaned against the railing that kept people from falling overboard. " Looks like a small storm might be headed this way from the South East." He mumbled to himself. " Have to prepare for that here in the next little while." Turning, he returned a salute from one of the gun crew members manning the big forward gun that was proving to be quite useful lately but he wished it was a touch bigger to give better range. " Oh well. I'll have to see about getting that fixed when we get back to home." He said as he headed below decks to go see the engine room. He hated going down there for all the noise hurt his more sensitive ears and the heat was oppressive. but it as a necessary evil to keep up with all the functions of his ship so if something went wrong he would understand what was going on. He passed through the forward fireroom that contained the boilers providing the heat to boil the water into the steam that powered the screws to his ship. He found them odd looking but understood the principle behind how they functioned. the actual 'engines' of the ship were a set of pistons pushed by that steam that then turned the propellers. That room was in the next compartment and Cyrus especially hated going there thanks to all the noise. he saluted the boiler crews and winced a bit as he entered the actual engine room but was greeted buy an unusually cheerful head of engineering. " Afternoon sir. Always nice to see you down here. What is the reason for your visit today?"
Cyrus smiled and allowed the man to relax." I just decided to take a stroll around the ship to stretch my legs. Got tired of being stuck at the wheel."
" I see sir. Odd path to take but you're the boss. Just try to not get us holed if we run into any damn yanks or something else hostile. My engines and boilers don't like getting wet." The engineer said with a laugh before retuning to his duties as Cyrus returned the chuckle and headed for the crew quarters up above.
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