Sea Captains: San Francisco 1800s
Captain William C. Law
The years 1862-3 found Captain William C. Law, with two fingers missing from one hand, living in San Francisco.
|1850s||Officer||Pacific Mail Lines Steamship Oregon||Coastal run between San Francisco and Panama|
|1862-63||Captain||SchoonerChapman||Thwarted Trip/Story Below|
At one point in his sailing career, Captain Law was in command of the schooner Storm Cloud, and was so erratic in his conduct that the owners, believing that he intended to run off with her, sent an agent to Valparaiso and relieved Law of his charge of the vessel. At that time, he was 39 years old, and had sailed both the Atlantic and the Pacific. He has resided in Charleston, South Carolina, for two years and was engaged in running slaves from Richmond to New Orleans.
September 2, 1863, Sacramento Daily Union, San Francisco
By Telegraph to the Union
Indictments for Reason
San Francisco, September 1st
The following named parties have been indicted by the Grand Jury of the United States for treason in levymg war against the United States:
Ridgely Greathouse, banker; Asbury Harpending, trader; Alfred Rubery, laborer; Wm. C. Law, mariner; Lorenzo L. Libbey, mariner; James Smith, plasterer; John McFadden, attorney at law; Wm. D. Ward, laborer; John E. Kent, laborer; John Fletcher, plasterer; Thomas W. Brunde, clerk; Wm. W. Mason, surveyor; George W. Davis, street contractro; Albion T. Crowe, clerk; Madison A. Marshall, lborer; Thomas Poole, laborer; Alfred Armand, mariner; Henry C. Boyd, machinist; Richard H. Duval, clerk; Gideon C. Jones, trader.
Jones was arrested last evening on a bench warrant issued by Judge Field, and is now in jail. The others were all in Alcatraz, having been taken on board the schooner Chapman. Jones is also implicated in the Chapman affair, but it is impossible to ascertain the specifications of the charge agaiiist him. He has been a merchant of this city for ninny years.
Rebel Civil War sympathizer, Asbury Harpending, born in Kentucky at at 23 the possessor of a fortune accumulated in the mines of California and Mexico, hired him to Captain the schoonerChapman. On February 17 (of 1862 or '63?), The Chapman was in the news for making the trip from New York to San Francisco in 138 days, and 38 days from Valparaiso, carrying Captain Cousins, his wife and three children, and a cargo of beans for Hellman Bros.
When Harpending saw Captain Law's "sinister, villainous mug" and considered him capable of any crime, and all in all "the most repulsive reptile in appearance I ever set eyes on," he dismissed him. He recalled him when he found no other candidates for his plan, which was to "sail the Chapman to some islands off the coast of Mexico, transform her into a fighting craft, proceed to Manzanillo, exhibit our letters of marque and my captain's commission in the Confederate Navy, and then lie in wait for the first Pacific Mail liner that entered the harbor, capture her -- peacefully if possible, forcibly if we must."
Harpending then planned to equip the captured liner as a privateer and intercept two more eastbound Pacific Mail steamers. His plan was to stop the flow of millions of dollars in gold from California to Union Troops, and thus cripple the North in the Civil War.
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