HDQRS. SECOND MILITARY DIST. OF SOUTH CAROLINA,
Charleston, S. C., May 13, 1862.
GENERAL: I have to report that the steamer Planter was stolen from Southern Wharf at between 3 and 3.30 o’clock this morning and taken to the enemy’s fleet, off the bar, where she was visible till late in the forenoon. By telegram from Stono this afternoon it is reported that she has gone south. The Planter is a high pressure, light-draft boat, drawing ordinarily not more than 3½ to 4 feet, and has been employed in the Confederate service in the transportation of ordnance, etc., to and from the various posts in the harbor and other localities in the neighborhood. She was under the command of C. J. Relyea as master, Samuel H. Smith, a Charleston pilot, being mate, and Zerich Pitcher, engineer, with a colored crew, eight in number, and all slaves. Neither the captain, mate, nor engineer were on board at the time of her departure, notwithstanding Paragraph VIII, in Orders No. 5, viz:
All light-draft steamers in the employ of the Government will be in readiness to move at once, their officers and crews, when at the wharf, remaining on board day and night.
Four of her colored crew and one of the colored crew of the steamer Etowah are missing, and are supposed to be parties to the theft. The Planter was to have taken to the Middle Ground battery early this morning a portion of the armament for that fortification, which had been put on board yesterday afternoon, viz, a banded rifle 42, one VIII-inch columbiad, one VIII-inch seacoast howitzer, and one <nor12_826>32-pounder. She had also mounted for her own use one 32-pounder and a 24-pounder howitzer, and for use in Fort Sumter a X-inch columbiad carriage, all of which have fallen into the hands of the enemy.
From an examination of the guard in the neighborhood of the wharf whence the Planter was stolen, it would appear that about 8 o’clock last night two white men and a white woman went on board of her, and as they were not seen to return it is supposed that they have also gone in her. The sentinel on post about 50 yards from where the Planter was moored noticed her movement from the wharf at between 3 and 3.30 o’clock, but did not think it necessary to stop her, presuming that she was but pursuing her usual business. The Planter, after leaving the wharf, proceeded along the bay as far, perhaps, as the Atlantic Wharf, where, after a short stoppage and the blowing of her whistle, she was turned and proceeded on her course to sea. She passed Fort Sumter at 4.15 o’clock and was reported by the sentinel on duty to the officer of the day. She was supposed to be the guard boat and allowed to pass without interruption.
I have the honor to be, yours, most respectfully,
F. G. RAVENEL,
Brigadier-General U. S. RIPLEY,
Second Military District.