North Carolina Fisheries


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 28, 1861

We have posted our collection of original Civil War Harper's Weekly newspaper on the WEB to assist you in your studies and research of the war. These newspapers allow you to see the war unfold, and read the reactions of the people who were there at the time. We hope this effort serves as a valuable resource for your studies.

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Wisconsin Volunteers


Military Campaign

Slave Liberation

Lincoln Orders: "Don't Free Slaves"

General Johnston

General Albert S. Johnston

Navy Battle

Fernandina Naval Battle

Supply Train

Supply Train

Fort Snelling Minnesota

Fort Snelling

Fishing North Carolina

North Carolina Fisheries


Gun-Boat "Winona"

James River

The James River

White Plains, Virginia

White Plains

Free Negros Fishing

Free Negros

Lytton's Strange Story

Walt Whitman Poem

Walt Whitman Poem











[SEPPEMBER 28, 1861.





"THE principal productions of North Carolina are tar, pitch, and turpentine," say the Geographies. The products of the immense " Piny Woods" of the Old North State amount to no inconsiderable sum. According to the Cyclopaedia of Commerce they amount to 4,000,000 barrels of turpentine, worth—when distilled, rectified, and converted into naval stores and oils—nearly $40,000,000. Of this amount very little is consumed at home, nine-tenths finding a market in the Commercial States. Now that North Carolina, unwillingly dragged into rebellion, finds her coast blockaded and her ports locked up by the occupation of HATTERAS and other forts commanding the inlets to Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds, and by gun-boats cruising in these waters, we apprehend that the turpentine trade must be at a stand-still, for who will make an article which can not be eaten, worn, or sold ? North Carolina has every thing to lose and nothing to gain by rebellion.

Among the minor resources of the State the shad and herring fisheries, carried on in the numerous bays and inlets of Albemarle and Pamlico

Sounds, occupy no inconsiderable place. Every estate on these waters has its fishing shore, located where a line of smooth sand beach affords facilities for landing the fish, and fitted up with windlasses for hauling the seines, salting-houses, coopering-sheds, and offices. The movable outfit consists of a pair of heavy boats and the seine, with its corks and lines of almost incredible extent. At one of the beaches the seine used was twenty-seven hundred yards in length and twenty-four feet deep. This enormous length of netting is packed upon the stern platforms of two ten-oared boats, which are rowed out together to a point opposite the landing, about a mile distant. Here the boats separate, moving in opposite directions, and the seine is payed out as they row slowly toward their destined points—the seaward boat following a course down the stream and parallel to the beach ; the landward boat curving in toward the upper end of the landing, thus heading the shoals of fish as they journey upward to their spawning grounds. The top line of the seine is buoyed with numerous corks; while the bottom, which is attached to the

lead-line, sinks with its weight. When the seine is all payed out, heavy ropes, made fast to the staves securing either end, are carried in to the great four-mule windlasses at the extremities of the beach, from eight to twelve hundred yards apart. The aggregate length of the seine, with these ropes, is about two miles and a half. As the circumference of this vast sweep is diminished, lines are attached to inner windlasses of less power, until the centre pair, of one-mule power and not more than a hundred yards apart, are put in motion. The circle of the net has now become so small that the inclosed shoals may be seen leaping, swimming with their back fins out, and churning the water in their affrighted movements. Presently the mules are discharged, and all hands called to handle the ropes. Fifty stalwart men rush into the water, waist-deep. The captains shout and swear, the gulls and eagles scream, and dashing into the melee, audaciously snatch their share of the spoil.

A few minutes of heavy dragging and the flashing, wriggling mass is rolled upon the beach; a

line of wide planks is hastily staked up behind, the net withdrawn, and the boatmen again put off cheerily to repeat the haul.

The women and boys now rush knee-deep into the gasping heap. The shad are first counted into baskets and carried to the packing-house; while the herring are headed, cleaned, and thrown into tubs, ready for the salters—all of which is transacted with merciless coolness and the most wonderful celerity.

It requires from five to seven hours to complete a haul ; and as there is no respite by day or night, three and four hauls are made within the twenty-four hours. The only time allowed for eating and sleeping is during the odd hours snatched by the different classes of workers when their especial branch of service is suspended. When the hauls are not heavy the cleaners and salters have an easy time between landings. The boatmen sleep while the mules wind in the net ; the mules browse and bray while the boats are out.

A first-class fishery employs from eighty to a hundred bipeds, and a dozen or twenty quadrupeds, (Next Page)


Albermarle Sounds



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