On Monday, December.7, 1863 sixteen Confederates, led by Lieutenant John Braine, seized the USS Chesapeake which was running from New York to Portland, Maine. After overwhelming the ship’s crew, the Chesapeake sailed first to Saint John’s, New Brunswick and subsequently to Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia, Canada.
On December 16, Union gunboats would recapture the Chesapeake. One of the seized Confederates was a British subject, and local authorities threatened to use shore batteries against the American ships unless the Englishman was released.
When Union Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles ordered the prisoner freed and had the Chesapeake turned over to Canadian authorities, an international incident was averted. However, Secretary of State William Seward demanded that Canada in the future enforce her neutrality concerning the American Civil War with greater vigor.