The Confederates tried to get me again, but I dodged them.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
Hugh Cale filed claim #12668 with the Southern Claims Commission. He was 33 years old, resided in Elizabeth City, and engaged in trading. From 1861 to December 1862, he lived in Edenton. He then moved to Plymouth until 1864. He then “went in the United States service on board Steamer Massaint [Massasoit] a transport remained on her for five months. I then shipped on Steamer Pilot Boy still in the service of the United States and remained on her until after the close of the war.”
“I was taken in the Spring of 1861 & carried to Beatom Iland [Beacon Island] near Ocracoat-bar [Ocracoke] N.C. and was made to work on the fortifications for the Confederate Government against my will for I was a man of color. Was kept there two weeks and was then carried to Hatrass [Hatteras] to work on fortifications & was then kept there three months & three days. We were then sent home, & remained home until the fall of Hatrass. I was then taken and put on board of the Schuner Cinaline and remained on her till the Capture of Roanoke Iland. I then went home the Confederate troops tried to get me again. I doged them.” He “did all I could to get other collered people to leave home and to go the places held by the United States Authorities.” “In 1862 I was arrested up the Chowan River as a spie for the United States. I was kept about five weeks under arrest and was not released until the Union troops took Winton.” “The Confederate troops wanted me to go to Norfolk Va and get goods for them. I told them I couldnot do that. They said if I did not do it that I should not stay at Home. I faild to do it then Confederate soldiers came to my House & beat me so I was laid up for some time.” “After I became free I worked at the Masons trade. I made money after I went in [illegible] lines at Plymouth and paid for the property with it. Except the boat which I owned before the war. I never had a master.” Union soldiers took lumber, goods and a sail boat from him.
Cale worked as merchant from 1862 to 1864. While absent, his clerk, Sam Skinner, conducted business for him. After they captured Plymouth, United States authorities took such merchandise from Cale as butter, flour, tobacco, bacon, apples.
John Block estimated that Cale’s 26-foot boat, in good shape with sails and fixtures, was worth two hundred dollars.
Report of the Secretary of War, Vol. I, 1865, “No. 20. List of vessels in service of Quartermaster’s department supplying General Sherman’s army” lists both the Massasoit and Pilot Boy.
Hugh Cale died July 22, 1910, in Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County. He was about 75 years old. His death certificate lists his occupation as merchant.