Confederate Piracy on the High Seas: The Clarence//Tacony/Archer Affair

Mariners' Museum
100 Museum Drive
Newport News, VA 23606
United States 100 Museum Drive Newport News 23606


  • FREE with museum admission: $10-$15

FREE with Museum Admission
When the CSS Florida, commanded by Lieutenant John Newland Maffitt, captured the Baltimore brig Clarence, Lieutenant Charles W. ‘Savez’ Read took command of the brig to operate separately from the Florida as a commerce raider. Read then seized several merchant ships including the bark Tacony. The Clarence was burned as Read transferred his flag to the Tacony, taking 15 ships, the last being the fishing schooner Archer, off the coast of Maine. Read took command of the Archer, burning the Tacony. He then conceived a plan to capture the revenue cutter Caleb Cushing. The Archer sailed into Portland, Maine’s harbor and docked. On June 27, 1863, Read and his men captured the cutter. At dawn, they sailed out of Portland. Unfortunately for the Confederates, a falling wind enabled the Federals to capture the two ships, but not until Read set them afire. Read’s daring leadership made him the scourge of Northern shipping.