The Blockake Runner
The Fanny and Jenny, a confederate blockade runner, sank off North Carolina in 1864 as she tried to evade Federal warships and reach Wilmington. Reportedly it carried a jeweled gold sword, sent to General Robert E. Lee from English admirers. An undetermined amount of gold, sent to the Confederate government was also believed to be on board. The captain and his purser were drowned in an attempt to retrieve this gold, immediately after the ship sank.
Attracted by the high prices offered to ships’ owners and crews by the Confederacy for bringing in from Bermuda and the West Indies the much needed supplies to maintain the Confederate army, many foreign ship owners became engaged in running the blockade into a few southern ports held open by the Confederacy.
The “Prevensey”, an iron steamer, was of English register built by Charles Langley of Liverpool, England in late 1863 as a blockade runner for the firm of Stringer, Pembroke and Company of London. The craft was some 500 tons, ironhulled, had side paddle wheels, and was schooner rigged.
Loaded with Confederate account with a cargo consisting of arms, blankets, shoes, cloth, clothing, lead, bacon and other items, the “Prevensey” had run off her course to avoid capture by the Federal boat “Quaker City”. To lighten her cargo, 30 tons of lead and 20 tons of bacon had been thrown overboard.
In the early morning of June 9, 1863 the supply boat “New Bern” out of Fort Macon supply base, returning from supplying Union ships off the mouth of Cape Fear River, spotted the “Prevensey” some 45 miles southeast of Fort Mason. Giving chase the “New Bern” put a shot across the enemy bow, carrying away the forward davit.
Changing course, the “Prevensey” headed for the Bogue Banks, striking the beach about six miles west of Fort Macon. There she was blown up after the crew had pulled for shore. One sailor was left on board to set off the charge, and was later found unharmed. One man of the crew of 35 died on the beach before the remaining crew members were captured by Union soldiers.
The crew, knowing the were close to Fort Macon and would be captured, buried the ship’s cash box plus their own money and any personal items they had. Since they were not in either army, and were classed as mercenaries, it isn’t likely any of them ever came back after they were released from a Union prison.
Following the close of the Civil War, stories were circulated that the money chest of the “Prevensey” had been brought ashore and buried opposite the wreck, the place marked by a clump of three large oak trees. The shifting sands would have made it almost useless to search in the 1860s, but with a good metal detector, the chances of finding this cache today are good.