TRIAL OF THE OFFICERS AND CREW OF THE PRIVATEER SAVANNAH, ON THE CHARGE OF PIRACY, IN THE UNITED STATES CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK. by A. F. Warburton
"On June 11, the intemperate newspaper the Charleston Mercury of South Carolina as usual trumpeted the wrong. The Mercury’s purple prose decried the capture and imprisonment of Captain Harrison Baker of the Southern schooner Savannah and his crew, who have been brought to New York in chains and are awaiting trial for piracy—which is a capital offense, incurring the death penalty.
The Savannah claims to be a “privateer” ship, which is a private merchant ship empowered by a Letter of Marque from a government (in this case the government of Jefferson Davis) to engage in warlike activities by arming the ship to prey upon the (unarmed) merchant ships of a hostile power in order to capture their cargo. Of course, such actions smack of piracy.
On June 2nd, this “privateer” merchant ship, the Savannah, captured the Northern brig Joseph, but was then captured herself when she mistook the USS Perry, an armed brig, for an unarmed merchant ship and attacked. After a brief battle, Captain Baker and the crew of the Savannah and his crew were captured by the officers and crew of the USS Perry. June Sanders"
The court case involving the Civil War ship the Savannah. During the month of May, 1861, the schooner Savannah, of Charleston, of about fifty-three tons burden, and mounting one pivot gun, was fitted out as a privateer, in the City of Charleston; and on the second of June, under the authority of "a paper, purporting to be a letter of marque, signed by Jefferson Davis," she sailed from that port for the purpose of making captures among the commercial marine of the United States. On the following day (Monday, June 3), after having captured the brig Joseph, laden with sugar, she was, in turn, herself taken by the United States brig-of-war Perry, Captain Parrott, and carried to the blockading squadron, off Charleston, to the commander of which (Commodore Stringham) she was surrendered by her captors. A piece of Civil War history.