William Watson spent two years evading Union gunboats and dealing with the ""sharpers"" who fed off the misfortune of the Civil War. In 1892, using log books, personal papers, and business memoranda, he published this ""plain, blunt,"" account of ""events just as they happened."" The result was a classic adventure tale whose careful description of seafaring in the 1860s gives us a glimpse into a world now closed to us. Watson is the protagonist, but he shares his story with his ship, the Rob Roy, a center-board schooner whose shallow draft and wide beam made it the ideal vessel for slipping over shoals and dashing in and out of blockaded ports. He peoples his account with the good, the bad, and the unlucky, from the likeable and irrepressible Capt. Dave McLusky to the loathsome and dishonest Mr. R. M. He takes his reader from Havana, where land sharks greet incoming sailors, to Galveston, where sharp businessmen and corrupt officials connive to confiscate both profits and ships. His crew braves gales and a hurricane, and he survives plots against his ship and his life. This adventure story is held together by the nuts and bolts of sailing. Watson's discussion of why sail was superior to steam for running blockades is superb; his detailed accounts of outrunning Federal cruisers are fascinating. Through it all, he maintains his honor and guards his profits. For the reader who wants to ply the Gulf of Mexico under sail, play the lottery in Havana, and visit Texas when it was ""a new country,"" Watson is the perfect guide to run the blockade that time imposes on posterity.
Publisher: Texas A & M University Press
Weight: 395 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 26 mm
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