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Oyster Wars of the Lower Chesapeake Bay

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Oyster Wars of the Lower Chesapeake Bay

The Pirate Brides

The crew of the Dancing Molly was not so complacent. When the Pamlico came upon the little craft "lying close in one of the inlets on the Eastern Shore," it appeared as though no crew members were on board. Thinking to take the unmanned craft as a prize, the crew of the Pamlico bore down upon the vessel. The vessel, though unmanned, was not unwomanned. The captain's wife and two daughters were still aboard, and when their cries for help went unheard by the crew on shore, they unreefed the sails themselves and made their escape. As the Pamlico raced to block the mouth of the inlet the Dancing Molly strained at its sails to escape. The women were "equal to the emergency." All three "were skilled in handling the sails and were determined not to be taken." Despite solid shot flying past them, the three women continued on their way and reaching the open waters of the Bay, easily escaped into Maryland waters with a stiff breeze behind them. According to the Norfolk Virginian of March 4, 1883, spectators along the Virginia shore, though opposed to dredging,"really wished for the safety of the tiny craft when they saw it was simply manned by three women, and when the Dancing Molly got safely out the group of Virginians chivalrously gave three cheers for the pirate's wife and daughters."

Meanwhile, the Peed, with Governor Cameron, General Groner, and a stowaway newspaper reporter on board, had captured five Onancock schooners peacefully, with no shots fired. The vessels were turned over to Accomac County authorities and the prisoners were remanded to Mr. Sands Smith of Mathews County for questioning. The Peed returned to Norfolk around 9 PM Friday, March 2, and because she had no "pirates" on board or in tow, the crowd was disappointed. However, the "good people of Norfolk...received the gallant outfit who had risked their lives in order that their countrymen might for all time revel in the luxury of 'stewed, fried, steamed and on the half shell.'"

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