Join us on Fridays, for a YouTube Live event with author and historian John V. Quarstein! Quarstein will give a 30-minute presentation virtually from his home in Hampton, Virginia, an elaborate ruse to capture a steamer during the Civil War. Viewers are welcome to send Quarstein any comments or questions during the presentation, and he will answer them following his talk.
About this presentation: The daring capture of the steamer St. Nicholas on June 2, 1861, in the Potomac River was the first charge of Confederate piracy during the American Civil War. Captain George Hollins, CSN, and adventurer Lt. Col. Richard Thomas Zarona, captured the ship using an elaborate ruse. Their plot focused around a flirtatious French “lady” known as Madame La Force. The madame had brought three heavy trunks on board and was traveling from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., to begin a business there. At the appointed hour, the trunks were emptied of their contents — cutlasses and pistols — by Col. Zarona’s men. Madame La Force disrobed, revealing none other than the colonel himself, dressed in a gaudy Zouave uniform. Zarona and Hollins took over the steamer, later capturing three Northern merchantmen. The pair was proclaimed vicious pirates and treated like heroes throughout the South.
Image credit: The French Lady taking off with the ship. From Harpers Weekly, July 27, 1861.