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Joseph Baut, whose birth name was Joseph Bautovich, was born around 1833 at Peljesac, Dubrovnik, Croatia. After migrating to the United States Joseph enlisted as a seaman aboard the CSS Florida and was later a witness against one Edward Vickopuskis for mutinous conduct aboard ship on September 19, 1864.

The CSS “Florida” was originally a screw steamer named the Oreto”, with horizontal direct-acting steam engines built by William C. Miller & Sons in Liverpool, England in 1862.

It became known as the "Prince of Privateers," was the second most successful Confederate raider after the CSS “Alabama” built in June 1861, was the Confederacy's first foreign-built commerce raider and it departed Liverpool, England on March 22, 1862; commissioned at Green Cay, Bahamas with  Lieutenant John Newland Maffitt commanding. From there she sailed to Cuba and through the Federal blockade into Mobile, Alabama where she arrived on September 4, 1861.  She remained in port until January 16, 1863, when she again broke through the Federal blockade to begin a lucrative seven-month cruise, during which she captured twenty-two vessels, including the Union clippers Red Gauntlet” and the Southern Cross”; facilitating the capture of another twenty-three, among them the Union revenue cutter “Caleb Cushing”. She became the dread of all Union shipping.

After a five-month refit in Brest, France, during which the command was transferred to Lieutenant Charles M. Morris, the CSS “Florida” captured eleven more ships before putting into the neutral port of Bahia, Brazil, on October 4, 1864; a few days after the USS Wachusett had entered the neutral port. Morris swore to Brazilian officials he would observe Brazilian neutrality and refrain from any hostilities against the Union ship while in Brazilian waters, and was granted four days in which to make necessary repairs. The U.S. Consul in the port of Bahia immediately sent a letter of protest to the authorities in Bahia, Brazil, claiming that the CSS “Florida” was not entitled to privileges and immunities conceded to vessels navigating under the flag of a civilized nation. Officials in Bahia, Brazil, however, rejected the protest, advising that the Imperial Government of Brazil “recognized the Confederate States as legal belligerents”, and were therefore entitled to any humanitarian assistance required; “as laid down by international law”.

The Brazilians, anxious to prevent a confrontation between the Wachusett” and the Florida, moored some of their own ships-of-the-line between the two antagonists. But on October 7, openly violating Brazilian neutrality laws, the Union “Wachusett” was determined to end the carnage wrought on Union shipping by the Confederate warship and rammed the Confederate raider; trying to sink her. She was captured illegally, in violation of all accepted rules of sea warfare and in direct violation of Brazilian law.  Wilson had granted almost half his crew shore leave, and after assessing the situation, Lieutenant T. K. Porter surrendered his ship and the remaining crew; still within neutral Brazilian waters, who were promptly placed in irons. The “Florida” was then towed out of the neutral Bahia Harbour, under fire of the forts in Bahia, and back to Newport News, Virginia where she was “supposedly” sank in a collision with the transport “Alliance”. The truth is, she was so feared she was purposely sunk in the harbour to keep her from ever getting to sea again, irregardless of the official Union reports; another gross injustice and violation of International Law by the US Navy that produced a huge international incident. Lieutenant Charles M. Morris, Commander of the CSS “Florida” was ashore with other seamen at the time of the seizure and managed to evade capture. When the USS “Wachusett” stopped at St. Thomas in the West Indies, on November 1st for supplies, another eighteen prisoners were able to escape. The CSS “Florida” captured 33 ships, has more of her crew buried outside the United States than any other ship and is the only cruiser whose hull still remains in the Confederacy.

After the war Joseph arrived in Adelaide, South Australia aboard a windjammer and according to family oral history, jumped ship.

He then married Mary Ann Satterley on  October 30, 1867 at Hindmarsh, South Australia and later became a farmer.

Joseph Bout Bautovich died at 97 years of age at Tyntynder Central, Victoria, Australia on November 22, 1930, having never been able to master good English, and was buried at Swan Hill Cemetery in Victoria, Australia on November 24, 1930. After his death his family was said to have burned all his naval belongings. Descendants include Joseph Bautovich of Guilianah and David Bautovich of Irrewarra, Victoria, Australia.

 

Mrs. C. Grant, Swan Hill Cemetery Trust

Carol Cosstick, Devonport, Tasmania

David Bautovich, Irrewarra, Victoria

Hampton Roads Naval Museum, Norfolk, Virginia.

“Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion”, Series 1, Volume 3

"Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion." 1, 3, 256; CSS “Florida” court martial records, National Archives, microfilm T716, roll 3

Ships of the World: An Historical Encyclopedia

"War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies."

 United States Navy, Navel History Center

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