We first went to Corn Island, and after firing a salute, which very much tickled the pride of Jeremiah Quinn, a quadroon, and the chief man of the Island. He entertained us finely, but forgot to send us the barrels of land crabs he had promised us. It was very interesting to talk with the people, (all negroes) who spoke English; also to see the tropical vegetation.
Next we sailed for the Island of St. Andrews. On the way we saw the masts of a vessel over one of the small keys, and sent a boat’s crew with a Lieutenant to overhaul her papers. We veering off, to look up the mouth of a river on the mainland of Honduras, to see if there were any vessels. An English ship steering across our bow, we hailed her to stop, but she did not obey, and we fired a shot across her bow. The she hove to. The skipper said “he did not think it necessary to stop as our boat’s crew had examined his papers, and found them correct.” We then apologized to him and he asked us how long we would stay, telling him we would go to St. Andrews. He said he was hunting tortoise, and would give us some fresh meat, for which we thanked him and went on.
Stopping at St. Andrews early Sunday morning, and going ashore, we walked two miles across the Island, meeting a number of negroes with hymn books, on their way to church. As these Islands belong to the United States of Colombia, we were astonished to find all the people spoke English. Asking why, they told us that a number of years before a Baptist Missionary and a number of negroes from Jamaica came over, the missionary marrying one of the negroes and remained.
Our Chaplain, John D. Bugloss, who was familiarly known as “Chap” exchanged pulpits with the native preacher, and soon found he had made a bad bargain, as services ashore commenced at 9 A. M. and concluded at 1 P. M., while aboard the ship our services were seldom over a half hour. We poked lots of fun at old “Chap,” which he took in good grace.
The people seemed happy and contented, as they had no morning paper to read about murders, arsons, and all kinds of accidents and no market reports, telegrams or anything to disturb their equanimity.
Well, we did not find any of the vessels we were hunting for, much to our disappointment. When we fired the shot across the bow of the English vessel, I omitted to say, several of our officers were very much excited and two of them asked me as the guest of the Captain if I would not ask him to send them to New York with the prize, if sent.
We returned to Colon; crossed over to Panama several times. On several occasions we met a number of officers attached to vessels in the Pacific. These officers never wore uniforms ashore, except on State occasions and were as plain and unassuming men as you are apt to meet. I was introduced to them as Admiral, Captain or Mr. So and So, as generally those below a Captain in rank were addressed as “Mr.” They had the power to destroy a city, or sink an enemy’s ship, yet they would never wound the feelings of an inferior of the lowest caste by putting on a superior air. They were true gentlemen, all of them.