Civil War Lecture: Capture of the Steamer St. Nicholas

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Time & Place

    • The Mariners' Museum and Park

      July 11, 2020, 2:30 p.m.

      100 Museum Drive
      Newport News, VA 23606
    • Phone: 757-596-2222
      Highway Exit: 258A from I-64
      Website: Click here to visit us online


Presented by John V. Quarstein, director emeritus, USS Monitor Center

FREE with $1 Museum admission


The daring capture of the steamer St. Nicholas on June 2, 1861, in the Potomac River was the first charge of Confederate piracy during the American Civil War. Captain George Hollins, CSN, and adventurer Lt. Col. Richard Thomas Zarona, captured the steamer using an elaborate ruse. Their plot focused around a flirtatious French “lady” known as Madame La Force. She had brought three heavy trunks on board and was traveling from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., to begin a business there. At the appointed hour, the trunks were emptied of their contents - cutlasses and pistols by Colonel Zarona's men. Madame La Force disrobed, revealing none other than the colonel himself, dressed in a gaudy Zouave uniform. Zarona and Hollins took over the steamer, later capturing three Northern merchantmen. The pair was proclaimed vicious pirates and treated like heroes throughout the South.


The lecture will be held in a classroom at the Museum. Please confirm room location upon check in at Visitor Services. Reserving a seat is suggested as seating is limited.


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