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Civil War Lecture: The Capture of the St. Nicholas
January 13 @ 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Confederate Pirates: The Capture of the St. Nicholas
Presented by John V. Quarstein, Director Emeritus, USS Monitor Center
The daring capture of the steamer St. Nicholas on June 2, 1861, in the Potomac River was the Union’s first charge of Confederate piracy during the Civil War. Captain George Hollins, CSN, and adventurer Lieutenant Colonel Richard Thomas Zarona captured the ship using an elaborate ruse. Their plot focused around a flirtatious French “lady” known as Madame La Force. She 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 (pistols and cutlasses) by Col. Zarona’s followers. Madame La Force disrobed, revealing none other than the colonel himself, in full Zouave uniform. Zarona and Hollins took over the steamer, later capturing three Northern merchantmen. The pair was proclaimed vicious pirates in the North and treated like heroes throughout the South.