After its noted trip to California, there is not much information available as to Suliote’s next few voyages. At some point, the bark returned to Atlantic waters. On April 9, 1853, Suliote was at Pernambuco in Brazil, recorded as being in ballast, meaning not carrying any cargo. On June 4, the vessel arrived at Boston under a master named Drinkwater. For the next decade, Suliote was involved with the coasting trade, likely on South American runs.

But the approaching American Civil War changed everything. Once the long-simmering tensions flared into outright hostilities, any northern shipping could potentially fall prey to Confederate raiders. For many vessels at sea or between ports, they might not even know if they were at war.

In November 1862, Suliote was bound for Boston from Nicaragua when they spoke to another ship at sea. Suliote’s captain inquired whether there was war or not. And if hostilities had started, was it over? They were informed the war had begun that April and still raged with thousands of Americans dead.

By 1864, Suliote sailed the supposedly safer northern waters, bringing Canadian coal from Cape Breton to America’s northeast coast. By then, the captain was J. L. Parmo. On Aug. 12, while sailing with a cargo of coal from Cow Bay, Cape Breton, to New York City, the Belfast bark was captured 35 miles off Montauk Point.

CSS Tallahassee had passed through the strong Union blockade for the first time on Aug. 6, 1864, beginning a 19-day raid off the north Atlantic coast. The twin-funnel rebel steamer gunboat was under command of Col. John Taylor Wood.

Off Long Island’s eastern tip of Montauk Point, the Confederate raider came upon Suliote. After a warning shot, the bark was boarded. Instead of burning the vessel, Wood decided to force Parmo to bond the ship for $5,000. This gave the Confederate commander opportunity to unload over 170 crew and passengers, mostly German, he had recently taken from passenger ship Adriatic.

On Aug. 12, 1864, Tallahassee had come upon the 989-ton immigrant carrier enroute from London to New York City. They forced everyone off the ship and quickly set it ablaze. Adriatic’s captain, a man named Moore, said Col. Wood had given passengers and crew such little time to get off Adriatic that most of their baggage had to be left behind.

Suliote itself was now seriously overloaded. The vessel had already taken on board a Capt. Callahan and his crew from the pilot-boat William Bell No. 24, which had also been burned by Tallahassee. Now they were also packed with the terrified Adriatic passengers, most of whom spoke no English.

To make matters worse, Wood and Tallahassee provided no provisions or water. Aboard crowded Suliote, there was little room to even stand. Packed survivors later reported that any sudden storm or high winds would have doomed most of them aboard. Still, they shivered through a cold downpour that night on the open deck. Suliote also had a major leak, enough that its pumps had to be kept constantly going.

As the ships parted way, and much to the alarm of survivors, Tallahassee’s Col. Wood said they were next going to enter New York Harbor. The Confederate raider was last seen heading southeast. Tallahasee went on to nearly be captured at Halifax, Nova Scotia, but escaped.

By Aug. 26, unable to obtain more coal to continue his raiding, Wood returned to Wilmington, N. C. During this cruise, Tallahassee had captured and destroyed 26 vessels and bonded or released another seven, including Suliote.

After Tallahassee departed, Suliote headed for Sandy Hook, N.Y. about 70 miles distant. They finally encountered the American navy steamer Susquehanna out searching for Tallahassee. The steamer gave the over-crowded bark some much needed provisions. Suliote reached New York City on the 14th. Crews and passengers from Adriatic and William Bell all spoke in high terms of the gentlemanly treatment they had received while on board Suliote.

For Tallahassee, the war was not over. Renamed CSS Olustee, under command of Lt. W. H. Ward, the steamer escaped through the blockade in October and captured and destroyed six ships before returning to Wilmington. The vessel was then renamed CSS Chameleon and ran the blockade once more in December 1864, this time for Bermuda, to obtain needed provisions for the Confederate army.

Due to the extensive Union blockade, they could not find a way back in, so sailed to Liverpool, England, where the steamer was seized by British authorities. Eventually sold to a Japanese shipping company in March 1867, the ship was renamed SS Haya Maru and reportedly sank on June 27, 1869.

For Suliote, after its wartime encounter, the bark once again disappears from the records. It is known Suliote was dismasted in 1867 and towed into Boston as a wreck. There, it underwent repairs and was even re-rigged as a schooner. By 1870, Suliote was back in Belfast for more repairs.

Within four years, however, Suliote was found to be in a leaking condition. In April 1874, the bark was condemned while in Puerto Rico — another source says it was Portsmouth, N.H. For over a quarter century, Suliote had sailed the world, involved with California’s gold rush, battled seas and weather off Cape Horn, fell victim to a Confederate raider and carried coal and other cargo to and from distant places. The little Belfast bark had secured a fitting place in Maine’s maritime history.

Charles Lagerbom teaches AP US History at Belfast Area High School and lives in Northport. He can be contacted at He is author of "Whaling in Maine" available through