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The Steamer Advance


The Steamer Advance


Chief Engineer James Maglenn recounts a journey aboard the Advance sailing from Bermuda to Wilmington and the plight that she encountered during a gale on her way.


James Maglenn


Campbell, R. Thomas, Edit., Voices of the Confederate Navy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2008.


June, 1864


Swing, Matt



Original Format



Some of her trips were very exciting and hazardous. on one occasion there were four steamers leaving St. George, Bermuda, including the Advance, for Wilmington. But two of these arrived in Wilmington. One put back to Bermuda badly disabled; the other was lost in the gale. On this occasion I was limited to twelve revolutions per minute for thirty-six hours, or during the severest of the gale, which was just enough for the ship to mind the helm, being head to the gale all this time and water increasing in the hold to such an extent that it got within six inches of the grate-bars. in fact, I thought our time had come and, therefore, informed Captain Wiley how matters were in the engine and fire room, and that "we could not hold out this way much longer." I suggested to him the importance of turning the ship around and running before the wind, to enable me to get the water out by working the engines faster. He remonstrated by saying that "to attempt such a thing in a night like this would be certain destruction to the ship and all on board, but to do the best you can until morning and when the worst comes, I may attempt it in daylight, but i feel confident we will have a change for the better by morning. The barometer has commenced to rise and is going up rapidly. It is the first time it has made a movement in that direction for two days." Strange to say, by 8 o'clock the next morning, it was perfectly calm, but a tremendous sea was rolling, which knocked us about considerably. This was the heaviest gale we ever experienced. On our arrival at Wilmington, we made some improvement in bilge and other pumps, which was actually necessary to make her seaworthy in anything like heavy weather.


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James Maglenn, The Steamer Advance, Civil War Era NC, accessed July 14, 2024,