A Tennessee river pilot, who appears to be a wide awake fellow, gives an amusing account of the manner in which the rebel steamer Robb was captured by our gunboats.
It seems a government steamer, heavily ladened with government stores in wending her way up the river, got aground. News of this mishap quickly reached the confederates, and about 200 of them took possession of the Robb, put a light field piece on board, and started down the little stream in which she has been concealed since the first expedition of our gunboat up the Tennessee river, for the purpose of bagging a rich prize. The Robb arrived in the vicinity of the federal transport, still hard aground, after night. The soldiers were concealed in the thickets, on shore, and the little privateer hunting a snug resting place quietly awaiting the approach of daylight for the consummation of her intentions.
During the night, a couple of gunboats – regular night hawks, they do most of their going after dark – possibly suspicioning mischief, came sneaking up the river. One of them anchored a short distance below where the rob was concealed, and the other passing up on the opposite side of an island in the river was not detected by those on board the Robb, and going up the river a short distance she, too, came to anchor and awaited daylight.
Conceiving the coast to be clear, early the next morning the Robb started out to take possession of her prize. Before reaching it, however, one of the “Lincoln sneaks,” as they are called in Dixie, was discovered creeping after her. Greatly alarmed the little rebel steamer turned her head up stream, and went off sputtering and puffing at an alarming rate. The gunboat paid the usual compliments of the morning, by sending a couple of shells, which exploded near the skedadling little steamer, to which it lacking in politeness, paid no attention beyond raising more steam and puffing with more vigor. Rounding an abrupt bend in the river, all on onboard the rebel craft were horror-struck at finding themselves immediately under the broadside of another gunboat, which appeared to be waiting their approach. Though surprised the party on board the Robb did not lose their presence of mind, and as if by instinct, every man on board seized table cloths, towels, and whatever other white substance on which they could lay their hands, and waived them with frantic vigor, amidst despairing shouts of “don’t shoot, we surrender.”
The gunboat didn’t shoot and directed the rebel steamer to follow in her wake, quietly made her way to headquarters, when the privateer was handed over to the proper authorities.
The Robb was the last rebel craft in the Tennessee, and we doubt not the gunboats will take care that many years will elapse before a flag hostile to the general government is ever again spread to the breeze on that beautiful stream. – Evansville Journal.
– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Tuesday Morning, May 6, 1862, p. 2