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The Cruise of the Alabama and the Sumter by Raphael Semmes

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[Illustration: RAPHAEL SEMMES.]



Two Volumes in One.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.



The following account of the cruise of the two Confederate States
steamers--Sumter and Alabama--is taken from the private journals and
other papers of Captain Semmes. It has been found necessary occasionally
to adopt a narrative form, but the endeavour has been throughout to
adhere as closely as possible to that officer's own words.

Information has also been most kindly afforded by other officers of the
two vessels, and especially Lieutenant R.F. Armstrong, and Master's Mate
G. Townley Fullam, from whose private journals and other papers much
valuable assistance has been obtained.

A good deal of controversy has arisen respecting the legality of the
course pursued by the Alabama, in the case of certain vessels claiming
to carry a neutral cargo. In all these cases, however, great care was
taken by Captain Semmes to enter in his journal full particulars of the
claims, and of the grounds on which it was refused admission. These
cases will be found quoted in full in the following volumes.




_The Question at issue--An unexpected point of attack--Captain
Semmes--The President's instructions--Creating a navy--From the old to
the new--An important mission--Appointed to the Sumter--True character
of the Confederate "pirate."_

The President of the American States in Confederation was gathering an
army for the defence of Southern liberty. Where valour is a national
inheritance, and an enthusiastic unanimity prevails, this will not prove
a difficult task. It is otherwise with the formation of a navy. Soldiers
of Southern blood had thrown up their commissions in a body; but sailors
love their ships as well as their country, and appear to owe some
allegiance to them likewise. Nevertheless, if Mr. Davis had not a great
choice of officers, he had eminent men to serve him, as the young
history of the South has abundantly shown. To obtain experienced and
trusty seamen was easier to him in such a crisis than to give them a
command. The Atlantic and the ports of America were ruled at that time
absolutely by President Lincoln. The South had not a voice upon the sea.
The merchants of New York and Boston looked upon the war as something
which concerned them very little. Not a dream of any damage possibly to
be inflicted on them, disturbed the serenity of their votes for the
invasion of the South. Their fleets entered harbour proudly; their
marine swam the ocean unmolested. Though there was war imminent, the
insurance offices were content to maintain their terms upon a peace
standard. What, indeed, was to be feared? The South had not a single
vessel. Here and there a packet-steamer might be caught up and armed,
but what would they avail against such fleet and powerful ships as the
Brooklyn, the Powhattan, and dozens of others? There was, then, a
condition of perfect security, according to the ideas of all American
commercial men. The arrangement, as they understood it, was that they
were to strike the blow, and that no one was to give them the value in

It happened that Mr. Davis was of another mind. He perceived where a
blow could be struck, on his part, with terrible emphasis, and how. The
obstacles in his way were colossal; but we have learnt that obstacles do
not appal his indomitable genius. On the 14th February, 1861, Captain
Semmes, being then at his residence in the city of Washington, a
Commander in the Federal navy, received the following telegram from

SIR,--On behalf of the Committee on Naval Affairs, I beg
leave to request that you will repair to this place at your earliest

Your obedient servant,

C.M. CONRAD, _Chairman_.

The selection of Captain Semmes for the first hazardous service,
whatsoever it might be, was due to his reputation and patriotism, as
well as to the sagacity of the Confederate chief. He had already, in a
letter to the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, expressed his willingness to
fight for the South: "his judgment, his inclinations, and his
affections," all hurrying him, as he says, to link his fate with the
first movement of the South. "My fate," he pursues, "is cast with the
South; but I should be unwilling, unless invited, to appear to thrust
myself upon the new Government _until my own State_ has moved." This was
at that time the feeling of many border statesmen. In another letter to
Mr. Curry he had exposed sound practical views of the situation of the
Confederates, as regards their marine, for defence and means of
inflicting damage on their opponents.

Captain Semmes at once replied that he would attend upon the committee
immediately. His next act was respectfully to resign his commission as
Commander in the Navy of the United States; which resignation was
accepted in the same terms. He ceased similarly to be a member of the
Lighthouse Board. These matters concluded, he telegraphed to the Hon.
J.L.M. Curry, in Montgomery, where the Confederate States' Congress was
sitting, that he was now a free man to serve his struggling country.
Forthwith he was deputed by President Davis to return to the Northern
States, and make large purchases and contracts "for machinery and
munitions, or for the manufacture of arms and munitions of war;" as also
to obtain "cannon and musket-powder, the former of the coarsest grain,"
and to engage with a certain proprietor of powder-mills for the
"establishment of a powder-mill at some point in the limits of our
territory." This letter gives a good idea of the business-like qualities
brought by Mr. Davis to his high office. "At the arsenal at Washington,"
he writes, "you will find an artificer named Wright, who has brought the
cap-making machine to its present state of efficiency, and who might
furnish a cap-machine, and accompany it, to explain its operations."
Throughout the letter, which is full of minute instructions and weighty
commissions, Mr. Davis shows the fullest confidence in the loyalty and
fitness of the man in whom he placed trust.

Captain Semmes was engaged in the performance of these immediate duties,
when a confidential communication from Mr. S.R. Mallory, of the Navy
department, gave him warning of two or more steamers, of a class desired
for present service, which might be purchased at or near New
York--"steamers of speed, light draught, and strength sufficient for at
least one heavy gun."

"The steamers are designed to navigate the waters and enter the bays and
inlets of the coast from Charleston to the St. Mary's, and from Key West
to the Rio Grande, for coast defences;" and Captain Semmes' judgment
will need no further guide when he is told that "their speed should be
sufficient to give them at all times the ability to engage or to evade
an engagement, and that an 8 or 10-inch gun, with, perhaps, two 32, or,
if not, two of smaller calibre, should constitute their battery."

The Captain's appointment as Commander in the Navy of the Confederate
States, and taking of the oaths, followed in April. On the 18th of that
month, Mr. Mallory detached him from the post he held, by appointment
from the President, of Chief of the Lighthouse Bureau, with orders that
he should proceed to New Orleans and take command of the steamer Sumter.
Captain Semmes saw clearly that war was coming. He perceived, at the
same time, the means by which he could serve his country best. He set
forth for New Orleans without delay.

Our readers will see, by-and-by, from the quotations we shall make from
the Captain's Log, that he is as little the hungry fire-eater which many
of his admirers suppose him to be, as he is the Black Pirate of the New
York press. Captain Semmes is a native of Charles county, in Maryland, a
State that has furnished numerous patriotic citizens to the South.
Before accepting his new service he had taken honourable farewell of his
old. The Federals had no charge to bring against him before the day when
he stepped on the deck of the then unknown and insignificant Sumter
steam-vessel. What they may have said later is of no particular
consequence; nor can it be thought to be greatly to the discredit of
Captain Semmes that they have cried out loudly, and as men in pain.


_The Sumter formerly the Savannah packet-ship--Captain Semmes joins and
assumes command--Altering the vessel--Vexatious delays--The war
begins--The river blockaded--Crew of the Sumter--Dropping down the
river--An attempt--No pilots--Vigorous action--Sumter still at her
anchors--Lamps removed from lighthouses--More enemy's ships--Orders on
board the Sumter--False hopes--The 30th of June--A courageous pilot--The
escape of the Sumter--The chase--The enemy baffled._

The little vessel which now constituted the whole strength of the
Confederate navy, was a merchant screw-steamer of 501 tons burthen. She
had been hitherto known as the Havannah, and had plied as a packet-ship
between the port of that name and New Orleans. She was now to be
extemporized into a man-of-war, and in her new guise was to achieve a
world-wide celebrity, and to play no unimportant part in the great
struggle between North and South.

Arrived in New Orleans, Captain Semmes at once proceeded, in company
with Lieutenant Chapman, to inspect his new command--of which he speaks
with evident satisfaction as a "staunch and well-built" vessel. In her
then condition, however, she was by no means fitted for her new duties;
and he accordingly devoted all his energies towards effecting the
alterations necessary for that purpose. The first step was to
disencumber her decks of the long range of upper cabins, thus materially
increasing her buoyancy as a sea-boat, and diminishing the area exposed
to the enemy's shot and shell. Then a berth-deck was laid for the
accommodation of officers and crew, and the main deck renewed and
strengthened to carry the heavy 8-inch shell-gun, mounted on a pivot
between the fore and mainmasts, and the four 24 pounder howitzers of 13
cwt. each, to be mounted as a broadside battery. Additional coal-bunkers
were also constructed, and a magazine and shell-room built in a suitable
position, and these and a few other less important changes effected, the
transformation was complete, and the little Sumter ready to proceed upon
her work of devastation.

It must not, however, be imagined that all this was done without many
and vexatious delays. The emergency had found the new Confederation
altogether unprepared, and trouble and confusion were the inevitable
result. Hitherto, everything had been done by the North. Up to the very
last moment it had been believed that the separation of the two sections
would be peaceably effected; and now the necessary works had to be
hastily carried out by civilian workmen, under the direction of a
department, itself as yet but provisionally and most imperfectly

Sorely tried by the delays consequent upon this condition of affairs,
Captain Semmes commences his Diary as follows:--

"_New Orleans, May 24th_.--A month has elapsed since I began the
preparation of the Sumter for sea, and yet we are not ready. Leeds
and Co. have not given us our tanks, and we only received the
carriage of the 8-inch gun to-day. The officers are all present,
and the crew has been shipped, and all are impatient to be off. The
river is not yet blockaded, but expected to be to-morrow. It must
be a close blockade, and by heavy vessels, that will keep us in.
Troops are being collected in large numbers in the enemy's States,
marchings and counter-marchings are going on; and the fleet seems
to be kept very busy, scouring hither and thither, but nothing
accomplished. Whilst penning the last paragraph, news reaches us
that the Lincoln Government has crossed the Potomac and invaded
Virginia! Thus commences a bloody and a bitter war. So be it; we
but accept the gauntlet which has been flung in our faces. The
future will tell a tale worthy of the South and of her noble

But the delays were not yet over. On the 27th May, the United States
steamer Brooklyn made her appearance, and commenced the blockade of the
river. The following day brought the powerful frigates Niagara and
Minnesota to her assistance; and when on the 1st of June Captain Semmes
began at length to look hopefully seawards, the Powhattan was discovered
carefully watching the only remaining exit from the river.

One by one, however, the difficulties were fairly overcome, and the
infant navy of the Confederate States was ready to take the sea. The
Sumter's crew consisted of Captain Semmes, commanding, four lieutenants,
a paymaster, a surgeon, a lieutenant of marines, four midshipmen, four
engineers, boatswain, gunner, sail-maker, carpenter, captain's and
purser's clerks, twelve marines, and seventy-two seamen. Thus manned and
equipped, she dropped down the river on the 18th June, and anchored off
the Barracks for the purpose of receiving on board her ammunition and
other similar stores. From thence she again proceeded on the same
evening still lower down the river to Forts Philip and Jackson, where
she brought up on the following day, to await a favourable opportunity
for running the blockade.

For three days she remained at her new anchorage, this period of
enforced inactivity being diligently employed in drilling and exercising
the crew, and bringing the vessel generally into somewhat better order
than her hurried equipment had as yet permitted her to assume. On the
21st June, however, intelligence was received that the Powhattan had
left her station in chase of two vessels, and that a boat from the
Brooklyn had passed into the river, and was making for the telegraph
station. Captain Semmes at once decided to avail himself of this
opportunity to escape to sea, and getting up steam, proceeded to Pass a
L'Outre, and despatched one of his boats to the lighthouse for a pilot.

Here, however, an unexpected difficulty occurred. The light-house-keeper
replied that he knew nothing of the pilots, and the Sumter was
accordingly compelled again to bring up, whilst the Confederate
privateer Ivy ran down, at Captain Semmes' request, to the South-west
Pass, to endeavour to procure a pilot for her there. This expedition,
however, met with no better success, and the Ivy returned with the
information that the pilots refused to take charge of the vessel. A
further despatch was addressed to Captain Semmes, from the Captain of
the House of Pilots, to the effect that "no pilots were now on duty."

It now became necessary to act with vigour, and the Ivy was accordingly
again despatched to the South-west Pass. This time, however, she carried
with her the first lieutenant of the Sumter, with the following
peremptory message to the Master of the Pilot Association to repair
immediately on board, and instructions, if any hesitation were evinced
in complying with this command, to arrest the entire body and bring them

C.S. steamer Sumter, Head of the Passes
June 22nd, 1861.

SIR,--This is to command you to repair on board this ship with three or
four of the most experienced pilots of the Bar. I am surprised to learn
that an unwillingness has been expressed by some of the pilots of your
Association to come on board the Sumter, and my purpose is to test the
fact of such disloyalty to the Confederate States. If any man disobey
this summons, I will not only have his Branch taken away from him, but I
will send an armed force and arrest and bring him on board. I have the
honour to be,

Very respectfully,

Your obedient Servant,

(Signed) R. SEMMES.

This extreme measure, however, was not found necessary. The mere threat
was sufficient, and on the following day the master, with several of his
pilots, made their appearance on board the Sumter. After a brief
consultation with Captain Semmes, they one and all, with the exception
of the master, expressed their willingness to take the vessel to sea,
and thereupon the captain, selecting one of the number for this service,
permitted the remainder to depart.

Meanwhile, however, the golden opportunity had been lost; the Powhattan
had returned to her station, and the harbour was again hermetically
sealed. The Sumter, therefore, was again compelled to return to her
anchors, and eight more days passed wearily away without affording
another opportunity of evasion. The interval of expectation, however,
was again occupied in drilling and exercising the crew, which was now
beginning to get into good working order; measures being also taken for
extinguishing and removing the lamps from the lighthouses at Pass a
L'Outre and the South Pass, Captain Semmes addressing to the Navy
Department at Richmond the following letter upon the subject:--

C.S. steamer Sumter, Head of the Passes,
Miss. River, June 30th, 1861.

SIR,--I have the honour to inform the department that I am still at my
anchors at the "Head of the Passes," the enemy closely investing both of
the practicable outlets. At Pass a L'Outre there are three ships--the
Brooklyn and another propeller, and a large side-wheel steamer; and at
the South-west Pass there is the Powhattan, lying within half-a-mile of
the Bar, and not stirring an inch from her anchors night or day. I am
only surprised that the Brooklyn does not come up to this anchorage,
which she might easily do (as there is water enough, and no military
precautions whatever have been taken to hold it), and thus effectually
seal all the passes of the river by her presence alone, which would
enable the enemy to withdraw the remainder of his blockading force for
use elsewhere. With the assistance of the Jackson and McRae (neither of
which has yet dropped down), I could probably hold my position here
until an opportunity offered of my getting to sea. I shall watch
diligently for such an opportunity, and have no doubt that, sooner or
later, it will present itself. I found, upon dropping down to this
point, that the lights at Pass a L'Outre and South Pass had been
strangely overlooked, and that they were still burning. I caused them
both to be extinguished, so that if bad weather should set in, the
blockading vessel will have nothing "to hold on to," and will be obliged
to make an offing. At present the worst feature of the blockade is that
the Brooklyn has the speed of me, so that, even though I should run the
bar, I could not hope to escape her unless I surprised her, which, with
her close watch of the Bar, at anchor near to, both night and day, it
will be exceedingly difficult to do. I should be quite willing to try
speed with the Powhattan if I could hope to run the gauntlet of her guns
without being crippled; but unfortunately, with all the buoys and other
marks removed, there is a perfectly blind bar except by daylight. In the
meantime I am drilling my gun-crew to a proper use of the great guns and
small arms. With the exception of diarrhoea which is prevailing to some
extent, brought on by too free a use of the river water in the excessive
heats which prevail, the crew continue healthy.

* * * * *
I have the honour to be, &c., &c.,

(Signed) R. SEMMES.

Hon. G.E. Mallory, Secretary of the Navy, Richmond, Virginia.

The following orders were also issued:--

"_Orders to be Observed on Board the C.S. Steamer Sumter_."

"1. The deck will never be left without a lieutenant, except that in
port a midshipman may be assigned to keep the first lieutenant's watch."

"2. The quarter-deck will at all times be regarded as a place of parade,
and no sitting or lounging will be permitted thereon. For the purposes
of this order all the spar deck abaft the mainmast will be regarded as
the quarter-deck."

"3. Officers will wear their uniforms at all times when on board ship,
and when on shore on duty."

"4. No officer will remain out of the ship after ten P.M. without the
special permission of the commander."

"5. Each division of guns will be exercised at least three times a week;
and there will be an exercise at general quarters twice a week, viz., on
Tuesdays and Fridays."

"6. The crew will be mustered at quarters for inspection every morning
at nine o'clock (except Sundays), and every evening at sunset."

"7. On Sundays there will be a general muster for inspection at eleven
A.M., when the officers will appear in undress with epaulettes."

"8. The chief engineer is to keep the commander informed at all times
(through the first lieutenant) of the condition of his engines, boilers,
&c.; and he is to see that his assistants, &c., are punctual and
zealous in the performance of their duties, and report such as fail
therein to the first lieutenant."

"9. There will be an engineer at all times on watch in the engine-room
when the ship is under steam, and the engineer on watch will report
every two hours to the officer of the deck how the engines are working,

"10. The marine officer will drill his guard once every day when the
weather is suitable, and the duty of the ship does not interfere

"11. The firemen will be exercised once a week, when the pumps, hose,
&c., are to be adjusted, and used as in case of actual fire."

On the morning of the 29th of June hopes were again excited by a report
from the pilot that the Brooklyn had left her station; and steam being
got up with all speed on board the Sumter, she again dropped down to
Pass a l'Outre, but only to find that the report had been fallacious.
The Brooklyn was still at anchor, though a slight change of berth had
placed her behind the shelter of a mass of trees. Once more, therefore,
the Sumter was brought to an anchor; but on the day following, her
patient waiting was rewarded by the long-looked-for opportunity. On the
morning of the 30th of June the Brooklyn was again reported under way
and in chase of a vessel to leeward; and no sooner was the fact of her
departure fairly verified than steam was got up for the last time, and
the little Sumter dashed boldly across the bar, and stood out to sea.

Almost at the last moment, however, it seemed as though the attempt to
escape were again to be baffled by difficulties on the part of the
pilot. The man on board of the Sumter lost courage as the moment of
trial came, and professed his inability to take the vessel through the
pass thus left free by the departure of the Brooklyn, alleging as his
excuse that he had not passed through it for more than three months.
Happily the man's cowardice or treachery produced no ill effects; for,
as the Sumter dropped down the river on her way towards the open sea,
another pilot came gallantly off to her in his little boat, and
volunteered to carry her through the Pass.

The Sumter had not reached within six miles of the bar when her
movements were perceived from the Brooklyn, which at once relinquished
the far less valuable prize on which she had been hitherto intent; and,
changing her course, headed at top speed towards the bar, in hopes of
cutting the Sumter off before she could reach it. The narrow opening
through the bar, distant about six miles from either of the opposing
vessels, now became the goal of a sharp and exciting race. The Sumter
had the advantage of the stream: but the Brooklyn was her superior in
speed, and moreover, carried guns of heavier calibre and longer range.
At length the Pass is reached; and dashing gallantly across it, the
little Sumter starboards her helm and rounds the mud-banks to the
eastward! As she does so the Brooklyn rounds to for a moment and gives
her a shot from her pivot gun. But the bolt falls short; and now the
race begins in earnest!

The chase had not continued long, when a heavy squall of wind and rain
came up and hid the pursuing vessel from sight; but it soon passed away,
and the Brooklyn was again descried astern, under all sail and steam,
and evidently gaining upon her little quarry. On this the Sumter was
hauled two points higher up, thus bringing the wind so far forward that
the Brooklyn was no longer able to carry sail. And now the chase in her
turn began to gain upon her huge pursuer. But she was now in salt water,
and her boilers were beginning to "prime" furiously. It was necessary to
slacken speed for a time, and as she did so the Brooklyn again recovered
her advantage. Then gradually the foaming in the Sumter's boilers
ceased, and she was again put to her speed. The utmost pressure was put
on; the propeller began to move at the rate of sixty-five revolutions a
minute, and the Brooklyn once more dropped slowly but steadily astern.
At length she gave up the chase, and at four o'clock in the afternoon,
just four hours after crossing the bar, the crew of the Sumter gave
three hearty cheers as her baffled pursuer put up her helm, and,
relinquishing the chase, turned sullenly back to her station at the
mouth of the river.


_Beginning the cruise--The first prize the Golden Rocket--The capture
burnt--The Cuba and Machias--Cienfuegos--The Ben Dunning and Albert
Adams--Three at once: the West Wind, the Naiad, and the Louisa Kilham--A
fleet of prizes--Saluting the Confederate States' flag--At Cuba--Strict
neutrality--A prize agent--The Governor-General of Cuba--Recapture by
the United States--An accident to the commander--A gale--At Curacao--The
Dutch Governor--An ex-president in difficulties--The Abby
Bradford--Venezuela--An inhospitable port--The Joseph Maxwell--Military
v. naval--Sagacious skipper--Gulf of Bahia_.

The Sumter had now fairly commenced her gallant career. The 1st July
dawned bright and fair with, a light breeze from the south-west, and
the little vessel sped through the water at an average speed of about
eight knots an hour. All that day not a sail appeared in sight. Night
settled down in all the calm splendour of the tropic seas, and nothing
disturbed its serenity save the monotonous beating of the Sumter's
propeller as she steered a south-easterly course down the Gulf of
Mexico. The following day brought her safely to Cape Antonio, which she
rounded under sail and steam, and striking the trade-winds, hoisted up
her propeller and stood away towards the west.

The afternoon of the 3rd July brought the Sumter her first prize. At
about 3 P.M. a sail was descried in shore, beating to windward, and
steering a course that would bring her almost into contact with the
Confederate vessel. To avoid suspicion, no notice was taken of the
stranger until the two vessels had approached within the distance of a
little more than a mile from each other, when a display of English
colours from the Confederate was answered by the stranger with the stars
and stripes of the United States. Down came the St. George's ensign from
the Sumter's peak, to be replaced almost before it had touched the deck
by the stars and bars, which at that time constituted the flag of the
Confederate States. A shot was fired across the bows of the astonished
Yankee, who at once hove-to, and a boat was sent on board to take
possession of the Sumter's first capture.

The prize proved to be the ship Golden Rocket, from the Yankee State of
Maine--a fine ship of 690 tons burthen, only three years old, and worth
from 30,000 to 40,000 dollars. She Was bound to Cienfuegos in Cuba, but
had no cargo on board, and Captain Semmes, being unwilling at that early
stage of his cruise to spare a prize crew, determined to destroy the
vessel, and after taking the captain and crew on board the Sumter set
the prize on fire and left her to her fate.[1]

[Footnote 1: "It was about ten o'clock at night when the first glare of
light burst from her cabin-hatch. Few, few on board can forget the
spectacle. A ship set fire to at sea! It would seem that man was almost
warring with his Maker. Her helpless condition, the red flames licking
the rigging as they climbed aloft, the sparks and pieces of burning rope
taken off by the wind and flying miles to leeward, the ghastly glare
thrown upon the dark sea as far as the eye could reach, and then the
death-like stillness of the scene--all these combined to place the
Golden Rocket on the tablet of our memories for ever. But,
notwithstanding the reluctance with which we did it, we would not have
missed the opportunity for anything on earth. We wanted no war--we
wanted peace; we had dear friends among those who were making war upon
us, and for their sakes, if not for the sake of humanity, we hoped to be
allowed to separate in peace; but it could not be; they forced the war
upon us--they endeavoured to destroy us. For this, and for this alone,
we burn their ships and destroy their commerce. We have no feeling of
enmity against them, and all we ask is to be let alone--to be allowed to
tread the path we have chosen for ourselves."--"_Cruise of the
Sumter_," from the "_Index_" May 1st, 1862.]

The following day saw two more prizes fall into the Sumter's hands.
These were the brigantines Cuba and Machias, both of Maine. The captures
were taken in tow and carried off in the direction of Cienfuegos. The
next day, however, the Cuba broke adrift from her hawser, and on being
recovered, a prize crew was sent on board the vessel, with directions to
carry her into Cienfuegos, for which port Captain Semmes was now shaping
his course.

Arrived off that harbour on the evening of the same day, it was found
too late to attempt to enter, and two more vessels being descried in the
offing, the Machias was cast off, with orders to lay-to until the
morning, and the Sumter started off in chase. On coming up with the two
vessels, at about half-past nine o'clock, they proved to be the United
States brigantines, Ben Dunning and Albert Adams. They were at once
taken possession of, and ordered to make the best of their way in charge
of a prize crew to Cienfuegos.

The night was passed in standing off and on outside the harbour, and
with the earliest dawn preparations were made for running in. The
weather was bright and clear, and the brief twilight of the tropics
flushed rapidly into the full glare of day, and showed to the watchful
eyes on board the Sumter the welcome spectacle of three more vessels
being towed out to sea by a steamer, the stars and stripes floating
gaily from their peaks. Warily and patiently the little Sumter lay in
wait, under the shelter of the land, until the steamer had cast off her
convoy, and the three unsuspecting vessels were fairly beyond the
maritime league from the neutral shore, within which the law of nations
forbids that captures should be made. Then suddenly her decks swarmed
with men, the black smoke poured from her funnel, the sails filled, and
out she came in pursuit. The chase was brief, and ere long the barque
West Wind, the brigantine Naiad, and the barque Louisa Kilham were in
charge of prize crews, and wending their way sadly back to the port they
had so recently left in full expectation of a prosperous voyage.

So, with her little fleet of prizes, six in all, before her, the Sumter
steered proudly into the harbour of Cienfuegos. As she passed the fort
which guards the entrance, a hail was heard from the shore, accompanied
by the almost simultaneous report of a couple of musket shots fired over
the vessel, for the purpose, apparently, of enforcing the order to bring
up and come to an anchor. The command having been obeyed, a boat was at
once despatched in charge of Lieutenant Evans to call on the Commandant
and ask an explanation of this inhospitable reception. The message was
brought back, that the flag of the new Confederacy had not been
understood by him, and that the vessel had consequently been brought up
in compliance with the standing order that no vessel, whether of war or
otherwise, should be permitted to pass until her nationality had been
ascertained. Explanations, of course, followed, and in the evening came
the Commandant, with the Governor's permission either to land or go to
sea, but accompanied by an intimation that the six prizes would be
detained until instructions could be received from headquarters
concerning them.

Lieutenant Chapman was now sent on shore with the following despatch for
the Governor, and also to make arrangements for coaling and for the
safety and ultimate disposition of the prizes:

C.S. Sumter. Cienfuegos, Island of Cuba,
July 6th, 1861.

Sir,--I have the honour to inform your Excellency of my arrival at the
Port of Cienfuegos with seven prizes of war. These vessels are the
brigantines Cuba, Machias, Ben Dunning, Albert Adams and Naiad; and
barques West Wind and Louisa Kilham, property of citizens of the United
States, which States, as your Excellency is aware, are waging an unjust
and aggressive war upon the Confederate States, which I have the honour,
with this ship under my command, to represent. I have sought a port of
Cuba with these prizes, with the expectation that Spain will extend to
cruisers of the Confederate States the same friendly reception that in
similar circumstances she would extend to the cruisers of the enemy; in
other words, that she will permit me to leave the captured vessels
within her jurisdiction until they can be adjudicated by a Court of
Admiralty of the Confederate States. As a people maintaining a
Government _de facto_, and not only holding the enemy in check, but
gaining advantages over him, we are entitled to all the rights of
belligerents, and I confidently rely upon the friendly disposition of
Spain, who is our near neighbour in the most important of her colonial
possessions, to receive us with equal and even-handed justice, if not
with the sympathy which our unity of interest and policy, with regard to
an important social and industrial institution, are so well calculated
to inspire. A rule which would exclude our prizes from her ports during
the war, although it should be applied in terms equally to the enemy,
would not, I respectfully suggest, be an equitable or just rule. The
basis of such a rule, as, indeed, of all the conduct of a neutral during
war, is equal and impartial justice to all the belligerents; and this
should be a substantial and practical justice, and not exist in delusive
or deceptive terms merely. Now, a little reflection will, I think, show
your Excellency that the rule in question cannot be applied in the
present war without operating with great injustice to the Confederate
States. It is well known to your Excellency that the United States being
a manufacturing and commercial people, whilst the Confederate States
have been thus far almost wholly an agricultural and planting people,
the former had within their limits and control almost the whole naval
force of the old Government, and that they have seized and appropriated
this force to themselves, regardless of the just claims of the
Confederates States to a portion, and a large portion of it, as
tax-payers out of whose contributions it was created. The United States
are thus enabled to blockade all the important ports of the Confederate
States. In this condition of things, observe the practical working of
the rule which I am discussing.

It must be admitted that we have equal belligerent rights with the

One of the most important of these rights in a war against a commercial
people, is that which I have just exercised, of capturing his property
upon the high seas. But how are the Confederate States to enjoy to its
full extent the benefit of this right, if their cruisers are not
permitted to enter neutral ports with their prizes, and retain them
there in safe custody until they can he condemned and disposed of?

They cannot send them to their own ports for the reasons already stated.
Except for the purpose of destruction, therefore, their right of capture
would be entirely defeated by the adoption of the rule in question,
whilst the enemy would suffer no inconvenience from it, as all his ports
are open to him. I take it for granted that Spain will not think of
acting upon so unjust and unequal a rule.

But another question arises, indeed has already arisen, in the cases of
some of the very captures which I have brought into port. The cargoes of
several of the vessels are claimed, as appears by certificates found
among the papers, as Spanish property.

This fact cannot of course be verified, except by a judicial proceeding
in the Prize Courts of the Confederate States.

But whilst this fact is being determined, what is to be done with the
property? I have the right to destroy the vessels, but not the cargoes,
in case the latter should prove to be, as claimed, Spanish property--but
how am I to destroy the former, and not the latter? I cannot before
sentence unlade the cargoes and deliver them to the claimants, for I do
not know that the claims will be sustained; and I cannot destroy them,
for I do not know that the claims will not be sustained.

Indeed, one of the motives which influenced me in seeking a Spanish
port, was the fact that these cargoes were claimed by Spanish subjects,
whom I was desirous of putting to as little inconvenience as possible in
the unlading and reception of their property, after sentence, should it
be restored to them.

It will be for your Excellency to consider and act upon these grave
questions, touching alike the interests of both our Governments.

I have the honour to be, &c., &c.,


His Excellency Don Jose de la Pozuela,
Governor of the City of Cienfuegos, Island of Cuba.

At eight o'clock on the morning of the 7th July, Lieutenant Chapman
returned, bringing with him Don Isnaga and Don Mariano Dias, two Cuban
gentlemen, warm sympathizers with the Confederate cause. The latter of
these gentlemen was at once appointed prize agent, and after partaking
of the hospitality of the ship, they returned to shore, and the
remainder of the day was spent on board the Sumter in replenishing the
various stores that had begun to run low after her cruise. In the course
of the day about 100 tons of coal and 5000 gallons of water were
shipped, besides a quantity of fresh provisions for the crew; and at
about 10 P.M. an answer arrived from the Governor to the despatch sent
on shore the previous evening by Lieutenant Chapman.

It stated that the Captain-General of Cuba had given instructions as

1. No cruiser of either party can bring their prizes into Spanish ports.

2. If in any captures the territory of Cuba has been violated, the
Spanish courts will themselves judge of the matter.

3. Any prizes will be detained until instructions can be had from the

These points being ascertained, the prizes already at anchor were left
to the care of the prize agent, Don Dias, and at about midnight the
Sumter hove up her anchor and again proceeded to sea. Nothing had as yet
been seen of the prize brig Cuba, which had been left in charge of a
prize crew a day or two before, nor, indeed, did she ever arrive at the
rendezvous, being recaptured by the enemy, and carried off to the United

Shortly after leaving Cienfuegos, a sail was descried in the offing,
which, however, on being overhauled, proved to be only a Spanish brig,
and the Sumter accordingly kept on her course, between 9 and 10 P.M.
passing the Cayman Islets, which, Captain Semmes remarks in his journal,
are laid down some fifteen or sixteen miles to the westward of their
real position. Daylight of the 9th July found the little Sumter
struggling against a strong trade wind and heavy sea, off the western
end of Jamaica, the blue mountains of which picturesque island remained
in sight during the entire day.

At this period an accident occurred which for some time deprived the
Sumter of the active supervision of her commander. Always of delicate
constitution, and ill-fitted for the rough part he had now to play, he
had lately been still further weakened by illness; and on mounting the
companion-ladder, for the purpose of desiring that the vessel might not
be driven at so high a speed against the heavy head-sea, a sudden
giddiness came over him, and after leaning for a few moments with his
head upon his arm, altogether lost consciousness, and fell heavily
backwards down the companion to the cabin floor, where he lay for some
time in a state of insensibility. The result of this fall was some very
serious bruises, with a difficulty in breathing, which for some days
kept him confined to his hammock. At this time, however, the Sumter was
quite out of the ordinary track of commerce, and was labouring slowly
through a heavy sea against the steady and tenacious trade-wind at the
rate of little more than five knots an hour, making terrible inroads
upon the small supply of coal which was so precious to her.

The 13th July found the trade-wind increased to a regular gale, the
Sumter making literally no way at all against the heavy head-sea. In
this state of affairs it was found necessary to abandon the previous
intention of making for Barbados, as there was not sufficient coal on
board to last the distance. This project, therefore, was given up, the
vessel's head turned from the sea, the fires let down, the ship got
under sail, and a new course shaped for Curacao. Here it was hoped that
a fresh supply of coal might be obtained, and the little Sumter
staggered along under a press of canvas towards her new destination, the
violent motion causing great distress to the captain, who was still
confined to his cabin, and almost entirely to his hammock.

On the 15th July, the weather moderated for a time, and a warm sunny
afternoon, with comparatively little sea, gave an interval of rest. The
next morning saw the wind again blowing freshly, but at 9 A.M. land was
seen on the starboard bow, and at four in the afternoon the Sumter
passed the north end of the island of Curacao, running down the coast to
within about a mile of St. Anne's, where she arrived at a little after
seven o'clock. A gun was fired as a signal for a pilot, and soon after
one came off, promising to return again in the morning, and carry the
vessel into harbour.

Morning came, and, true to his word, the pilot once more made his
appearance upon deck. But the remainder of his promise he was unable to
fulfil. "The Governor regrets," he said, in reply to Captain Semmes'
inquiries, "that he cannot permit you to enter, he having received
express orders to that effect." A little diplomacy, however, soon
removed the difficulty, which had arisen from the urgent representations
of the United States consul on the previous evening, aided, no doubt, by
a defective description of the vessel from the pilot. Lieutenant Chapman
was sent on shore with the following letter to the Governor:--

C.S. steamer Sumter, off St. Anne's,
Curacao, July 17th, 1861.


Sir,--I was surprised to receive by the pilot this morning a message
from your Excellency to the effect, that this ship could not be
permitted to enter the harbour unless she was in distress, as your
Excellency had received orders from your Government not to admit vessels
of war of the Confederate States of America to the hospitality of the
ports under your Excellency's command. I must respectfully suggest that
there must be some mistake here, and I have sent to you the bearer,
Lieut. Chapman, C.S. Navy, for the purpose of an explanation. Your
Excellency must be under some misapprehension as to the character of
this vessel. She is a ship of war, duly commissioned by the Government
of the Confederate States, which States have been recognised as
belligerents in the present war by all the leading Powers of
Europe--viz., Great Britain, France, Spain, &c., as your Excellency must
be aware. It is true that these Powers have prohibited both belligerents
from bringing prizes into their several jurisdictions, but no one of
them has made a distinction either between the prizes or the cruisers
themselves of the belligerents, the cruisers of both Governments being
admitted to the hospitalities of the ports of all these great Powers on
terms of perfect equality. Am I to understand from your Excellency that
Holland has adopted a different rule, and that she not only excludes the
prizes, but the ships of war themselves of the Confederate States, and
this at the same time that she admits the cruisers of the United States,
thus departing from her neutrality in this war, ignoring the
Confederate States as belligerents, and aiding and assisting their
enemy? If this he the position which Holland has assumed in this
contest, I pray your Excellency to be kind enough to say as much to me
in writing.

I have the honour to be, &c., &c.

(Signed) R. SEMMES.

Governor Crol, St. Anne's, Curacao.

This explanation removed all difficulties, and by 11 A.M. the requisite
permission had been obtained, and the Sumter was safely at anchor in the

Here she lay for some days, surrounded by bum-boats filled with
picturesque natives of all colours, chattering like parrots, and almost
as gaudy in their plumage. Meanwhile the crew were hard at work
replenishing the coal-bunkers, filling up wood and water, taking in
fresh provisions, and effecting the necessary repairs after the late
cruise. While thus employed, a visit was received from a Venezuelan, who
in very good English represented himself as a messenger or agent of
President Castro, now in exile at Curacao with four of his cabinet
ministers. This emissary's object was to negotiate a passage in the
Sumter for Don Castro and some twenty of his officers, with arms,
ammunition, &c., to the mainland opposite. This proposition, however,
Captain Semmes politely but very promptly declined, on the grounds,
firstly, that he was not going in the direction indicated; and secondly,
that if he were, it would be an undue interference on the part of a
neutral with the revolutionary parties now contending for the control of

"It was remarked," he writes, "that Castro was the _de jure_ President;"
to which I replied, "that we did not look into these matters, the
opposite party being in _de facto_ possession of the government."

At Curacao the Sumter remained until the 24th July, coaling, refitting,
provisioning, and allowing each of her crew in turn a short run on
shore, to recruit his spirits and get rid of his superfluous cash. At
noon on the 24th she was once more under way, leaving behind her,
however, one of her seamen, a worthless fellow of the name of John Orr,
who, enticed away, as was suspected, by a Yankee captain and the Yankee
keeper of a public-house, took the opportunity to make his escape from
the ship. The loss, however, was not of importance; and after one or two
slight attempts to trace him, the Sumter stood out of the harbour and
shaped her course towards Venezuela.

Daybreak of the 25th July again presented to the eager eyes on board of
the Sumter the welcome apparition of a sail. Chase was immediately
given, and at half-past six the Abby Bradford, from New York to Puerto
Caballo, was duly seized and taken in tow, her Captain proceeding with
her upon her original course towards Puerto Caballo. It was late before
that place was reached, and the night was spent standing off and on
outside the harbour. With the return of day, however, the Sumter ran
once more along the shore; and, without waiting for a pilot, steered
boldly past the group of small, bold-looking islands, and dropped her
anchor in the port.

No sooner was the anchor down than the following letter was despatched
to the Governor, asking permission to leave the prize until

C.S. steamer Sumter. Puerto Caballo,
July 26th, 1861.

Sir,--I have the honour to inform your Excellency of my arrival at this
port in this ship, under my command, and with the prize schooner Abby
Bradford, captured by me about seventy miles to the northward and
eastward. The Abby Bradford is the property of citizens of the United
States, with which States, as your Excellency is aware, the Confederate
States, which I have the honour to represent, are at war; and the cargo
would appear to belong also to citizens of the United States, who have
shipped it on consignment to a house in Puerto Caballo. Should any claim
be given, however, for the cargo, or any part of it, the question of
ownership can only be decided by the Prize Courts of the Confederate
States. In the meantime, I have the honour to request that your
Excellency will permit me to leave this prize vessel with her cargo in
the port of Puerto Caballo, until the question of prize can be
adjudicated by the proper tribunals of my country. This will be a
convenience to all parties, as well to any citizen of Venezuela who may
have an interest in the cargo, as to the captors, who have also valuable
interests to protect.

In making this request, I do not propose that the Venezuelan Government
shall depart from a strict neutrality between the belligerents; as the
same rule it applies to us, it can give the other party the benefit of,
also. In other words, with the most scrupulous regard for the
neutrality, she may admit both belligerents to bring their prizes into
her waters; and of this neither belligerent can complain, since whatever
favour is extended to its enemy is extended also to itself.

I have an additional and cogent reason for making this request, and that
is, that the rule of exclusion, although it might be applied in terms to
both belligerents, would not operate equally and justly upon them both.
It is well known to your Excellency that the Northern United States
(which are now making an aggressive and unjust war upon the Confederate
States, denying to the latter the right of self-government, which is
fundamental in all republics, and invading their territories for the
purpose of subjugation) are manufacturing and commercial states, whilst
the Confederate States have been thus far agricultural and planting
states; and that, as a consequence of this difference of pursuits, the
former States had in their possession at the commencement of this war
almost all the naval force of the old Government, which they have not
hesitated to seize and appropriate to their own use, although a large
proportion of it belonged of right to the Confederate States, which had
been taxed to create it.

By means of this naval force, dishonestly seized as aforesaid, the enemy
has been enabled to blockade all the important ports of the Confederate

This blockade necessarily shuts out the cruisers of the Confederate
States from their own ports, and if foreign Powers shut them out also,
they can make no other use of their prizes than to destroy them. Thus
your Excellency sees that, under the rule of exclusion, the enemy could
enjoy his right of capture to its full extent, his own ports being all
open to him, whilst the cruisers of the Confederate States could enjoy
it _sub modo_ only, that is, for the purpose of destruction. A rule
which would produce such effects as this is not an equal or a just rule
(although it might in terms be extended to both parties); and as
equality and justice are of the essence of neutrality, I take it for
granted that Venezuela will not adopt it.

On the other hand, the rule admitting both parties alike, with their
prizes, into your ports, until the Prize Courts of the respective
countries can have time to adjudicate the cases as they arrive, would
work equal and exact justice to both; and this is no more than the
Confederate States demand.

With reference to the present case, as the cargo consists chiefly of
provisions which are perishable, I would ask leave to sell them at
public auction for the benefit of "whom it may concern," depositing the
proceeds with a suitable prize agent until the decision of the court can
be known. With regard to the vessel, I request that she may remain in
the custody of the same agent until condemned and sold.

I have the honour to be, &c., &c.

(Signed) R. SEMMES.

His Excellency the Governor and Military Commander
of Puerto Caballo.

To this, however, that functionary could not be induced to assent, his
reply being that such a proposition was altogether beyond his province
to entertain, and that the Sumter must take her departure within
four-and-twenty hours. At daylight, therefore, on the 27th, a prize crew
was sent on board of the Abby Bradford, with orders to proceed to New
Orleans, and at six o'clock the Sumter was again outside of the
inhospitable port of Puerto Caballo.

The anchor was not fairly at the cathead when a sail was reported
seaward, which on capture proved to be the barque Joseph Maxwell, of
Philadelphia. The capture having taken place at about seven miles from
the port to which she was bound, and half of the cargo being the
property of a neutral owner, a boat was despatched with her master and
the paymaster of the Sumter to endeavour to effect negotiation. The
proposition was, that the owner of the neutral half of the cargo should
purchase at a small price the remaining half and the vessel herself,
which should then be delivered to him intact without delay. This little
arrangement, however, was somewhat summarily arrested by the action of
the Governor, who, much to Captain Semmes' astonishment, sent off orders
that the prize should at once be brought into port, there to remain in
his Excellency's custody, until a Venezuelan court should have decided
whether the capture had or had not been effected within the marine
league from the coast prescribed by international law!

This somewhat extraordinary demand did not receive the respect or
obedience on which its promulgator had doubtless relied. Beating to
quarters, and with his men standing to their guns in readiness for
instant action, the Sumter stood out once more towards her prize; sent
the master and his family ashore in one of his own boats, put a prize
crew on board the Maxwell, and despatched her to a port at the south
side of Cuba. It is believed that these unfriendly demonstrations on the
part of the Governor of Puerto Caballo were owing to a fear that the
Sumter was in truth employed upon some such enterprise as that on which
the agent of Don Castro at Curacao had vainly endeavoured to engage her,
and was endeavouring to effect a landing for revolutionary troops.

The Sumter now again stood away upon her course towards the eastward,
and at five in the evening came across an hermaphrodite brig, from whose
peak floated the hated but welcome stars and stripes. This time,
however, it was able to wave in safe defiance before the eyes of the
dreaded foe, for the sagacious master had kept carefully "within jumping
distance" of the shore, and the sacred "marine league of neutrality"
protected the vessel from the fate that had befallen so many of her

The afternoon of the 28th July found the Sumter off the island of
Tortuga, and at eleven that evening the ship was hove to in thirty-two
fathoms of water off the eastern end of Margaritta. Two more days' run
along the Venezuelan coast, at times in so dense a fog that it was
necessary to run within a mile of the shore in order to "hold on" to the
land, and the Gulf of Bahia was reached. Following close on the track of
a vessel just arrived from Madeira, and acquainted with the harbour, the
Sumter held on her course through the Huero or Umbrella Passage, and
shortly after noon anchored off the town of Port of Spain, receiving as
she did so a salute from the ensign of an English brig passing out of
the harbour.


_Excitement--Taking the bull by the horns--official visits--H.M.S.
Cadmus--Captain Semmes' commission--At sea again--A dull time--Wind and
current hostile--Cayenne--French politeness--False hopes--At
Paramaribo--A hot pursuit--A loyal Yankee--Doubtful security--Not to be
beaten--To sea again--A parting arrow_.

The arrival of the Sumter at Port of Spain appeared to create no small
excitement among the inhabitants, official and non-official, of that
little colony. The Governor at once proceeded to take legal opinion as
to the propriety of permitting the suspicious stranger to coal, and a
long leading article in the colonial paper gave expression to the
editor's serious doubts whether the Sumter were really what she
represented herself to be, a regularly commissioned vessel of war, and
not, after all, a privateer. The legal advisers of the Governor seem to
have reported favourably on Captain Semmes' request, for permission was
given to take on board the requisite supplies, and the Sumter's coaling
proceeded, though not with much rapidity.

The morning of the 2nd August introduced on board a visitor of a new
description. Through the heavy tropical rain which had been pouring
almost incessantly since the arrival of the Sumter, covering the calm
water of the harbour with little dancing jets, and drumming on the
steamer's decks the most unmusical of tattoos, a little dingy was seen
approaching, and in due time brought alongside of the Confederate
man-of-war the master of a Baltimore brig, which, was lying at anchor
some little distance off. The worthy skipper had heard of the terrible
doings of his new neighbour, and in no little anxiety for his own fate
had determined to take the bull by the horns, and inquire on board the
Sumter herself whether he would be permitted to depart without
molestation. Great was the poor, man's delight when he was hailed as a
native of a sister State, and informed that Maryland, though compelled
by superior force to maintain an apparent allegiance to her enemy, was
still considered a friend by her natural allies of the South, and that
strict orders had therefore been given to Set her commerce pass
unharmed. With a lightened heart he returned on board his vessel, and
the Baltimore brig went on her way rejoicing.

The afternoon of the same day brought two more visitors in the persons
of two English officers in mufti; but the international courtesy did not
extend so far as returning the official visit made on Captain Semmes'
behalf by Lieutenant Chapman, and Government-house remained
unrepresented on board the Sumter. "His Excellency," it is to be feared,
had taken offence at the slight passed upon his official position by
Captain Semmes, in not having taken care to recover his health and
strength sufficiently early to be able to make the official visit in

The morning of the 4th August would have seen the Sumter again under way
but for some informality in the paymaster's vouchers, which had to be
rectified; and during the delay thus occasioned, H.M. ship Cadmus
entered the harbour, and the Sumter's departure was postponed with the
object of communicating with her. Accordingly, a lieutenant was sent on
board the new arrival, the visit being promptly returned by an officer
of similar rank from the Cadmus, who, after exchanging the usual
civilities, delivered himself of a polite message from Captain Hillyer,
to the effect, that as the Sumter was the first vessel he had as yet
fallen in with under the flag of the Confederate States, he would be
obliged if Captain Semmes would favor him with a sight of his
commission. To this, of course, the latter had no objection; and the
demands of courtesy having been satisfied by the previous production of
the English lieutenant's commission, that of Captain Semmes was duly
exhibited, and the ceremonial visitor departed.

The next morning brought Captain Hillyer himself on board, and a long
conversation ensued on the war and various kindred topics, the English
Captain leaving behind him a most agreeable impression. The visit over,
steam was once more got up on board the Sumter, and at 1 P.M. she
steamed out through the eastern or Mona Island passage, and running down
the picturesque coast, with its mountain sides uncultivated but covered
with numerous huts, passed at ten o'clock that evening between Trinidad
and Tobago, and entered once more upon the broad North Atlantic.

For some days the time now hung somewhat heavily upon the hands of the
little community. A solitary brigantine only was seen, and she so far to
windward, that with the short supply of coal afforded by the not
overscrupulous merchants of Port of Spain, it was not thought worth
while to incur the expense and delay of a chase. The Sumter was now
terribly in need of an excitement. Not a living thing was in sight, but
the glittering schools of flying fish which ever and anon darted into
view, and skimming rapidly over their surface sank again beneath the
waves, only to be once more driven for a brief refuge to the upper air
by their unseen but relentless enemies below. Drill and exercise were
now the order of the day during the hours of light, and as the sun set
and the tropic night came rushing swiftly up over the yet glowing sky,
chessboards and backgammon-boards were brought out, and discussions,
social, political, and literary, divided the long hours of inaction with
the yarn and the song, and other mild but not ineffectual distractions
of life at sea.

Still it was with feelings of no small satisfaction that "green water"
was again reached, and the Sumter found herself within about ninety
miles of the (Dutch) Guiana coast. Hopes were now entertained of soon
reaching Maranham, but the next day showed them to be fallacious. A
strong northerly current had set in, and, in addition to this drawback,
it was discovered that the defalcations of the Port of Spain coal
merchants were more serious than had been supposed, and there was not
sufficient fuel left for the run. Next day matters were worse rather
than better. The northerly current was running at the extraordinary rate
of sixty miles in the twenty-four hours, a speed equal to that of the
Gulf Stream in its narrowest part. Only three days' fuel remained, and
making allowance for the northerly set, there were fully 550 miles to be
accomplished before Maranham could be reached.

Still the Sumter held patiently on her course in hopes of a change; but
no change came. Wind and current were as hostile as ever, and the
observations of the 11th August giving lat. 2 deg. 38' N., long. 47 deg. 48' W.,
the question of the voyage to Maranham, or even to Para, appeared
definitely settled, and letting his fires go down, Captain Semmes put up
his helm, made all sail, and stood away on a N.W. course, hoping to find
a fresh supply of coal at some of the ports of Guiana under his lee.

The afternoon of that day saw the sky clear, the sea almost calm, and
the little Sumter, rolling along on the long, lazy swell, with all her
starboard studding-sails set, at about three or four knots an hour,
towards Cape Orange, from which point it was intended to make her way
into Cayenne.

Here she arrived on the 15th August, but her hopes were again doomed to
disappointment. On coming to anchor, officers were at once despatched
with the usual complimentary messages to the Governor, and a request to
be informed whether the vessel could be supplied with coal. These
officers, however, were not permitted to land, the reason given being,
that they were without a clean bill of health from their last port. It
was in vain to represent the perfect state of health of the crew, and
the length of time they had been at sea. The official mind was closed
against any argument but that of the _consigne_. Five days' quarantine
were ordered, and five days' quarantine must be undergone, before the
salubrious shores of Cayenne could be exposed to the danger of infection
from the new comers; and as the authorities accompanied this fiat with
the statement, that there was no coal to be had in the place even for
the supply of their own government vessels, our captain determined to
make no further trial upon the discussion, but to seek his supplies

The afternoon of the next day brought the Sumter to the coast of (Dutch)
Guiana; but there being no pilot to be found, she was compelled to come
to an anchor in about four fathoms of water. Here, as the sun set, the
dark smoke of a steamer was discovered against the glowing sky, and
suspicion was at once aroused that the new comer must be a Yankee
cruiser on the look-out for the Confederate "pirates." The drums beat to
quarters on board of the little Sumter; decks were cleared for action;
ports were triced up, guns run out, and every preparation made to give
the supposed enemy a warm reception. Darkness had closed in as the
suspected vessel approached; the thump, thump, thump of her screw
sounding plainly on the still night air. Silently she approached the
watchful cruiser, steering completely round her anchorage, as though
herself suspicious of the character of her new companion. No hostile
demonstration, however, followed; the night was too dark to distinguish
friend from foe; and the strange sail having come to anchor at some
little distance from the Sumter, and evincing no disposition to assume
the offensive, the guns were run in again, and the men were at length
dismissed to the hammocks.

Early next morning steam was again got up on board the Confederate
cruiser, which ran down under French colours for a closer examination of
the stranger, who was lying quietly at anchor about two miles in-shore
of her. As the Sumter approached she also mounted the tricolor, at the
sight of which the pretended nationality of the cruiser was laid aside,
and the stars and bars flew out gaily from her mizen-peak. The Frenchman
appeared much pleased at having thus fallen in with the celebrated
Sumter; and being, like her, bound into Paramaribo, and of considerably
lighter draught, invited her to follow him into the river, where a pilot
might be obtained.

Arrived in Paramaribo the Sumter received tidings of the United States
steamer Keystone State, which had been "in pursuit" of her for some
time. This vessel was not very much larger than the Sumter, and their
crews and armaments were very nearly equal, so there were great hopes on
board the Confederate of a brush with the enemy on something like equal
terms. These hopes, however, like so many others, were doomed to
disappointment. By some fatality the Keystone State could never manage
to come up with her quarry. While the latter had been coaling at
Trinidad, she was performing a similar operation at Barbados, arriving
thence at Trinidad after the Sumter had sailed. From this port she again
started "in pursuit," but her chances of overtaking her enemy may
perhaps have been somewhat affected by the fact, that on learning that
the Sumter had started eastward, she at once followed upon a westerly
track, which, doubtless to the great grief of her commander and crew,
somehow failed to bring her alongside of the vessel of which she was in

[Footnote 2: The writer of the Notes in the _Index_ remarks on this
curious proceeding:--"Rather a strange idea we thought. It put us in
mind of a sportsman in California who was very anxious to kill a grisly
bear. At length he found the trail, and after following it for some
hours gave it up and returned to camp. On being questioned why he did
not follow in pursuit, he quietly replied that the trail was getting
_too fresh_. It must have been so with the Keystone State--the trail was
getting too fresh."]

But if the United States war vessels were somewhat eccentric in their
notion of a hot pursuit, it must be admitted that the United States
consuls and other agents on shore were by no means equally scrupulous.
Every possible expedient to prevent the Sumter from obtaining the
necessary supplies of coal was tried by the consul at Paramaribo, but
with less success than his strenuous exertions deserved. His first idea
was to buy up all the coal in the port, and a handsome price was
offered--in bonds on the United States government--for that purpose. But
with singular blindness to their own interests the merchants of
Paramaribo declined to put their trust in these bonds, and the ready
money not being forthcoming the hopeful scheme was compelled to be
abandoned. Undismayed by this first failure, the gallant Yankee next
sought to charter all the lighters by which the coal could be conveyed
on board, and here he was very nearly successful. One or two of the
owners however declined to be bought up, and in the lighters supplied
by them the process of coaling commenced. Still the persevering consul
was not to be beaten. Failing the owners of the contumacious barges,
their crews were yet accessible to the gentle influences at his command,
and some forty tons of coal found their way to the bottom of the
harbour, instead of to the Sumter's bunkers for which they had been

At length, however, in spite of both active Yankee and dilatory
Dutchmen, the operation was completed, and the little Sumter once more
ready for sea. Even now, however, she was not to get away without a
parting arrow from her indefatigable enemy. On the morning of her
proposed departure the captain's negro servant went on shore as usual
for the day's marketing, when he was waylaid by the worthy Yankee and
persuaded indefinitely to postpone his return. Poor fellow! if his fate
was anything like that of thousands of others "set free" by their
so-called friends of the North, he must have long ere this most bitterly
repented his desertion.

There was no time, however, to spare for searching after the runaway, so
after a brief conference with the authorities, who were apparently not
over anxious for his arrest, the Sumter got up steam and once more
proceeded in the direction of Maranham.


_Leave Paramaribo--Across the equator--A day of misfortunes--On a
sandbank--A narrow escape--Maranham--A Yankee protest--Bold
assertions--A visit to the President--News--False alarms--Paying
bills--A patriot--Off again--A prize--The Joseph Park--News of Bull
Run--A sad birthday._

A whole month had thus been lost through the failure of the Sumter's
coal off the mouth of the Amazon. News, too, had been received at
Paramaribo that six or seven large fast steamers were in hot pursuit;
and as it was not likely that all of these--the larger, perhaps, more
especially--would adopt the tactics of the Keystone State, it was an
object with the solitary little object of their vengeance to make the
best of her way to some safer cruising ground.

On the 31st August, then, she took her final leave of Paramaribo, and
running some eight or nine miles off the coast in a northerly direction
as a blind, altered her course to east half-south, with the intention of
avoiding the current by which she had on the former occasion been so
baffled, by keeping along the coast in soundings where its strength
would be less felt.

The 4th September found her well past the mouth of the Amazon, bowling
along under all fore-and-aft sails, with bright, clear weather, and a
fresh trade-wind from about east by south. This was about her best point
of sailing, and there being no longer any current against her, her log
showed a run of 175 miles in the twenty-four hours. On the same day a
strange sail was seen, but time and coal were now too valuable to be
risked, and the temptation to chase was resisted. In the evening the
equator was crossed, and the little Sumter bade farewell to the North
Atlantic, and entered on a new sphere of operations.

The 5th September was a day of misfortunes. The weather was thick and
lowering; the wind rapidly increasing; to half a gale, and the little
vessel straining heavily at her anchor. In heaving up, a sudden jerk
broke it short off at the shank, the metal about the broken part proving
to have been very indifferent. She now ran very cautiously and anxiously
towards the light, and into the bay, no pilot being in sight. For some
time all went well, and the chief dangers appeared to be over, when
suddenly the vessel ran with a heavy shock upon a sandbank, knocking off
a large portion of her false keel, and for the moment occasioning
intense anxiety to all on board. Fortunately, however, the bank was but
a narrow ridge, and the next sea carried the little vessel safely across
it, and out of danger. Much speculation, however, was excited by this
unlooked-for mishap, but a careful examination of the ship's position on
the chart failed to elucidate the mystery: the part of the bay where the
Sumter had struck being marked as clear ground. It was fortunate, at all
events, that the vessel escaped clear, for within the next hour and a
half the tide fell five feet, which with so heavy a load as that on
board the Sumter could not but have occasioned a terrible strain had she
been lying on the top of the bank.

Finding the soundings still so irregular as to threaten further danger,
the Sumter now came to an anchor, and some fishing boats being perceived
on the shore at a little distance, a boat was despatched which speedily
returned with a fisherman, who piloted her safely to the town of
Maranham. She was visited by a Brazilian naval officer, who
congratulated her captain not a little on his fortunate escape, the
Brazilian men-of war never thinking of attempting the passage without a
coast pilot.

The day following that on which the Sumter arrived at Maranham was the
Brazilian Independence Day. The town put on its gayest appearance;
men-of-war and merchantmen tricked themselves out with flags from deck
to truck, while the guns of the former thundered a salute across the
ordinarily quiet bay. Amidst their universal demonstration the Sumter
alone remained unmoved. The nation whose flag she bore had not yet been
recognised by the Brazilian government, and it would therefore have been
the height of incongruity to sport the slightest bunting on such an
occasion. The more so as the good folks of Maranham, though to all
appearance personally well disposed towards the Confederates, were in
such dread of officially committing themselves, that they did not
venture to invite the officers of the newly-arrived vessel to the grand
ball given by the authorities in honour of the day.

On Monday, the 9th September, Captain Semmes took up his quarters on
shore, and proceeded to make a formal call on the President of the
Department. That functionary, however, pleaded indisposition, appointing
the hour of noon on the following day for the desired interview.
Meanwhile Captain Semmes had hardly returned to his comfortable quarters
at the Hotel do Porto, ere he, in his turn, received a visit from
Captain Pinto of the Brazilian navy, and the Chief of Police, a
confidential friend of the President--the object of these gentlemen
being to read to him a formal protest from the consul of the United
States to the government, against the Sumter's being permitted to
receive coal or other supplies in the port. Amongst other equally bold
statements this document asserted that the Confederate cruiser had not
been permitted to enter the ports of any other European power.
Assertions like these were of course easily disposed of, and it was
agreed that the question should be discussed at the morrow's interview.
The account of this discussion had, perhaps, better be given in Captain
Semmes' own words:--

_Tuesday, September 11th_.--Called upon the President at twelve, and was
admitted to an interview; the Chief of Police and Captain Pinto being
present. I exhibited to the President my commission, and read to him a
portion of my instructions, to show him that it was the desire of the
Confederate States to cultivate friendly relations with other powers,
and to pay particular respect to neutral property and rights; and the
better to satisfy him that he might supply me with coal without a
departure from neutrality, and to contradict the false sentiments of the
United States Consul, I exhibited to him a newspaper from Trinidad,
setting forth the fact that the question of the propriety of supplying
me with coal in that island, had been formally submitted to the law
officers of the Crown, and decided in my favour, &c.

The President then announced to me that I might purchase whatever
supplies I wanted, coal included, munitions of war only excepted. I then
stated to him that this war was in fact a war as much in behalf of
Brazil as of ourselves, and that if we were beaten in the contest,
Brazil would be the next one to be assailed by Yankee propagandists.
These remarks were favourably received, the three gentlemen evidently
sympathizing with us.

Captain Semmes continues his short diary as follows:--

Fresh wind and cloudy. Painting ship, and making preparations for the
reception of coal. We are looking anxiously for the arrival of the Rio
mail steamer, as we have a report brought by a Portuguese vessel from
Pernambuco that a great battle has been fought; that we have beaten the
enemy; and that we have marched upon Washington. God grant that our just
cause may thus have triumphed! The whole town is agog discussing our
affairs. Different parties take different views of them: the opposition
party in the legislature, which is in session, being disposed to censure
the government for its reception of us.

_Thursday, September 12th_.--Clear, with passing clouds; trade-wind
fresh, as usual at this season of the year. Indeed, these winds will
continue to increase in force until December, when they will gradually
give place to the rains. It has been a favourite project of mine from
the commencement of the cruise, to run off Cape St. Roque, and there
waylay the commerce of the enemy in its transit both ways; but the
strong gales and strong current which now prevail, will interfere for
the present with my plan, and I must postpone it for awhile. If the war
continues I shall hope to put it in execution at the proper time. It was
at one time reported to-day that there were two United States vessels of
war awaiting us outside, off Santa Anna; but the report proved to be the
offspring of the excited imaginations of the townspeople. Had a
conversation this evening with Senor Rodrigues, an intelligent lawyer
and the Speaker of the Deputies, on the subject of the war. I found him
pretty well informed, considering that he had received his information
through the polluted channels of the Northern newspapers.

He seemed to think that we had been _precipitate_ in breaking off our
connexion with the North; but I told him we had been the most patient,
long-suffering people in the world, and waited till the last moment
possible, in hope that the fanaticism which swayed the North would have
passed away; and that the responsibility of breaking up the once great
government of the North rested entirely upon the propagandists of that

_Friday, September 13th_.--Cloudy, with the wind very fresh from the
eastward. The town is still busy discussing our affairs. A deputy asked
me seriously yesterday if the President had not ordered me to haul my
flag down, as not being recognised. He said that the Assembly had called
upon him for an explanation of the course he had adopted towards us, but
that he had declined to respond.

It is reported, too, that there are two ships of war awaiting us outside
near the Santa Anna light.

_Saturday, September 14th._--Cloudy, with fresh trades. Having finished
coaling and receiving our other supplies, we are engaged to-day in
paying off our bills. I have been enabled to negotiate a draft for two
thousand dollars upon the Secretary of the Navy; Mr. T. Wetson, one of
our fellow-countrymen temporarily here, having been patriotic enough to
advance me this sum on the faith of his government. He not only thus
aided us, but was very anxious to come on board in person, if he could
have wound up his business in time. In the evening at 7 P.M. I removed
on board from the Hotel do Porto, preparatory to going to sea to-morrow.

* * * * *

On Sunday, the 15th September, the Sumter was again under way, and
passed out of the harbour in charge of a pilot, Mr. Wetson accompanying
her until she was fairly outside. No Yankee vessels were found, as had
been reported, and the pilot being discharged, and a warm farewell
exchanged with Mr. Wetson, the Sumter stood away upon a north-east
course in the direction of her proposed cruising-ground in the calm belt
between the trades, the Cape San Roque project being for the present
abandoned. A dull time now commenced, great difficulty being experienced
in forcing the vessel towards her cruising-ground against the current,
which at times would carry her out of her course at the rate of more
than fifty miles a day. Whilst thus beating wearily and patiently
towards the station where it was hoped that more prizes might be
obtained, a curious phenomenon was observed, of which the following
account is given in the journal:--

_Monday, September 23d_.--Clear, with passing clouds. Wind right from
the south-east, veering and hauling two or three points. We have
experienced in the last two or three days a remarkable succession of
tide lips, coming on every twelve hours, and about an hour before the
passage of the moon over the meridian. We have observed five of these
lips, and with such regularity, that we attribute them to the lunar
influence attracting the water in an opposite direction from the
prevailing current, which is east, at the rate of some two miles per
hour. We had a small gull fly on board of us to-day at the distance of
five hundred miles from the nearest land. The tide lips came up from the
south and travelled north, approaching first with a heavy swell, which
caused us, being broadside on, to roll so violently that we kept the
ship off her course from two to three points to bring the roller more on
the quarter. These rollers would be followed by a confused tumultuous
sea, foaming and fretting in every direction, as if we were among
breakers. We were in fact among breakers, though fortunately with no
bottom near. No boat could have lived in such a cauldron as was produced
by this meeting of the waters. They generally passed us in about three
quarters of an hour, when everything became comparatively smooth again.
No observation to-day for latitude, but by computation we are in
latitude 5.25 N. and longitude (chronometer) 42.19 W. Current east by
north 58 miles. So curious were the phenomena of the lips that the
officers and men came on deck upon their approach to witness them.

* * * * *

It was many a long week now since the sight of an enemy had gladdened
the eyes of the Sumter's little crew, when, on the 25th of September,
the welcome cry of "Sail, ho!" was once more heard from the masthead.
Steam was at once got up, and the United States colors displayed from
the Confederate cruiser. A short pause of expectation, an eager scrutiny
of the stranger, as the blue and red bunting fluttered for a few moments
upon his deck, while his men were busy with the signal halyards, and
then a joyous cheer greeted the well-known stars and stripes, as they
rose above her bulwarks, and mounted slowly to her mizen peak.

She was not a very valuable prize, being merely a small brigantine,
called the Joseph Park, of Boston, six days out from Pernambuco, in
ballast. But she was the first fruits of a fresh cruise, and right
joyously did the boat's crew pull on board her to haul down the enemy's
flag, and replace it with the saucy stars and bars.[3]

[Footnote 3: The author of the "Notes" in the _Index_ writes:--

"The officer who boarded the Joseph Park asked the captain if he had
cargo. 'No.'--'Have you any specie?' 'Not a dollar.'--'Then, captain,
you must get into the boat, and go with me on board the Sumter.' 'What
are you going to do with me when I get on board?' The officer told him
it would depend entirely upon circumstances; that if he behaved himself,
and did not try to conceal anything, he would receive kind treatment;
that it all depended upon himself 'Well,' said he, 'captain' (he called
the officer who had boarded him captain) 'I _have_ got a thousand
dollars down below, and I guess I had better give it to you.' So he went
below, and from out of some little hole took the bag containing the
gold. The officer asked him why he had hidden the money, as we had the
United States colours up. He said he thought it was the Sumter, and
wanted to be on the safe side. The whole scene between the officer and
the captain of the Joseph Park was ludicrous in the extreme. The answers
to questions with that Yankee nasal twang and Yankee cunning, the
officer seeing through it and enjoying it all the while, made many jokes
in our mess afterwards."]

This done, the crew were transferred to the captain's vessel, and a
prize crew passed on board of the Joseph Park, with instructions to keep
within sight of the Sumter, and signal her immediately on perceiving any
suspicious sail. So the two cruised for some days in company, the Joseph
Park keeping to windward during the day, and at night running down under
cover of the Sumter's guns. This capture was none the less welcome for
the news she brought in a file of recent papers from Pernambuco, of the
first victory of the South at Manassas, or Bull Run, as well as of the
successes achieved in Missouri over the troops of General Lyon. Poor
Joseph Park! she had little anticipated her fate, and not a little
amusement was created among her captors by an entry in her log of the
day after leaving Pernambuco:--"We have a tight, fast vessel, and we
don't care for Jeff. Davis!" "My unfortunate prisoner," remarks Captain
Semmes, "had holloa'd before he was out of the wood."

The journal continues:--

_Friday, September 27th._--This is my fifty-second birthday, and so the
years roll on, one by one, and I am getting to be an old man! Thank God,
that I am still able to render service to my country in her glorious
struggle for the right of self-government, and in defence of her
institutions, her property, and everything a people hold sacred. We have
thus far beaten the Vandal hordes that have invaded and desecrated our
soil; and we shall continue to beat them to the end. The just God of
Heaven, who looks down upon the quarrels of men, will avenge the right.
May we prove ourselves in this struggle worthy of Him and of our great
cause! My poor distressed family! How fondly my thoughts revert to them
to-day! My dear wife and daughters, instead of preparing the accustomed
"cake" to celebrate my birthday, are mourning my absence, and dreading
to hear of disaster. May our Heavenly Father console, cherish, and
protect them!


_A dull time--"Sail, oh-h-h!"--An exciting chase--No prize--A
gale--Jack's holiday--A new cruising-ground--Dead calm--An enlightened
Frenchman--A near thing--Patience!--The Daniel Trowbridge--A lucky
haul--In closer--Double Duns--The prize schooner's revenge--Good news
from home--An apology--In hopes of a fight--Disappointment--The West
India station--Another blank--Martinique_.

Another dull time now set in. On the 28th September the prize crew were
recalled from the Joseph Park, which, after doing duty for some hours
longer as a look-out ship, was finally at nightfall, set on fire, and
burned to the water's edge. And now day after day passed by, unrelieved
save by the little common incidents of a peaceful voyage.

One day it would be a flying-fish that had leaped on board, and paid the
penalty of its indiscretion by doing duty next morning on the captain's
breakfast-table; another day a small sword-fish performed a similar
exploit; while on a third a heavy rain provided the great unwashed of
the forecastle with the unaccustomed luxury of copious ablutions in
fresh water. But not a sail was to be seen. Once only a simultaneous cry
from half-a-dozen sailors of "Light on the starboard bow!" produced a
temporary excitement, and caused the engineers to "fire up" at their
utmost speed. But the alarm proved false. The red light that had been so
confidently reckoned on as the port lantern of some steamer moving
across the Sumter's bows, was at length set down as a mere meteor, or it
might be some star setting crimson through the dim haze of the distant
horizon. Luck seemed quite to have deserted the Confederate flag. They
were lying in the very track of vessels between San Roque and New York.
Allowing a space of seventy-five miles on either side of the Sumter's
station as the extent of this track, and calculating upon a radius of
observation from her masthead of fifteen miles, one-fifth of the whole
number passing should certainly have come within her ken. Yet in the
course of seventeen weary days one vessel only had been seen, and the
Sumter's stock of patience was beginning to run very low.

At length, at ten o'clock on the morning of the 5th October, the welcome
cry was again heard. "Sail, oh--h--h!" was shouted from the masthead
with a lengthened emphasis, as though the look-out would mark the
unusual fact with a special note of admiration. The stranger was dead to
windward, and miles away, probably some seventeen or eighteen at the
very least. But not a moment was lost in starting in pursuit. Steam was
got up, sails furled, the vessel's head brought round in the direction
of the chase, and in less than half an hour from the first announcement
of her appearance, the Sumter was dashing through the water at
top-speed in pursuit.

The chase was long and animated. At first starting the stranger had all
the advantage of a stiff, steady breeze, whilst the Sumter was compelled
to trust altogether to her powers of steaming; and the former, being a
fine, fast vessel, appeared, if anything, rather to gain upon her
pursuer. Gradually, however, as the two vessels changed their relative
bearings, the Sumter also was enabled to avail herself of her fore and
aft canvas, and now she began to gain rapidly upon the chase. Three
hours and a quarter passed in this exciting contest; but at length the
pursuer had come fairly within range, and the chase was over. Up went
the Stars and Stripes to the Sumter's peak, and the usual pause of
excited expectation ensued; when, after bungling awhile with his signal
halyards, as though playing with his pursuer's hopes and fears, the red
ensign of England rose defiantly from the deck, and there was to be no
prize after all.

Very indignant was the captain of the Spartan at being hove-to by a
Yankee, and great was the amusement of the boarding officer as he was
welcomed with the observation that "the Northerners were catching h----"

"How so?" inquired he.

"Why by getting themselves so badly whipped by the Southerners."

It was observed that the worthy speaker appeared somewhat surprised at
the perfect good-humour and satisfaction with which the intelligence was

The night now set in wet and wild. The wind increased to a moderate gale
with a remarkably heavy sea, and violent rain-squalls passing at
intervals over the vessel. The little Sumter rolled and pitched about as
though she, too, were weary of the long period of inaction, and
determined to effect some kind of diversion on her own account. Morning
broke heavy and threatening, with the barometer at 29-87; and by noon it
was blowing a whole gale, and the ship labouring so heavily that the
ceremony of mustering the hands and reading the Articles of War,
customary on the first Sunday of every month, was perforce dispensed
with, and "Jack"--as usual, when bad weather has fairly set in, and the
ship has been made snug--got his holiday.

Towards night the gale, which had hauled gradually round from E.N.E. to
S.E. and S.S.E. in the course of some eight or ten hours, began to
moderate. By the next morning it had altogether broken, and though the
clouds were still leaden, and the sea ran high after the blow of
yesterday, the Sumter was once more able to make sail; and shaking the
reefs out of her topsails, she stood away again towards the S.S.E.

The end of the week saw her well upon her way towards a new cruising
ground, the Western side of the crossing having been fairly given up as
a hopeless job, and Captain Semmes shaping his course for the Eastern
crossing. At noon on Saturday, the 12th October, the new station was
reached, the vessel's position on that day being in lat. 6.56 N., long.
44.41 W.; the weather calm, the sun shining dimly through a greyish veil
of mist, and the little steamer rolling from side to side upon the long,
heaving swells, her yards creaking and her sails flapping heavily
against the masts with that dull, hopeless sound, more trying to the
sailor than the fiercest gale.

Gales and calms--sunshine and rain-squalls--long rolling swell--heavy
sea, and not a break in the monotonous round. Thirty-eight days out, and
in all that time but two vessels spoken and one solitary prize!

_Thursday, October 24th_.--Cloudy, with the wind from the eastward. At
half-past six in the morning descried a sail in the north east. Got up
steam and gave chase. At nine came up with a brig, which proved to be a
Frenchman, La Mouche Noire, from Nantes to Martinique. Sent a boat on
board of him. He had no newspapers, and said he knew the United States
were at war--we had the United States colours flying--but with whom he
did not know. Enlightened Frenchman! Or this may teach us a lesson of
humility, as showing us how little is thought in Europe of the American
Revolution. The brig was a clumsy specimen of architecture, and was out
forty-two days. We detained her less than half-an-hour, and permitted
her to go on her course again. Our ill-luck seems to culminate; for two
out of the only three sail we have seen in thirty-nine days have proved
to be foreign.

_Friday, October 25th_.--Fresh breeze from the north, and trade-wind
weather. Morning, a few rain-squalls, clearing, but with passing clouds,
as the sun gained altitude. Afternoon heavy, overcast sky, with half a
gale of wind. At 2.50 P.M. descried a sail on the starboard-quarter,
bearing about S.E. Got up steam and gave chase, and at 5 P.M. came up
with her. Fired a blank cartridge and spoke a Prussian ship, which I
caused to heave-to for the purpose of sending a boat on board of him;
but, as in the meantime the wind freshened, and considerable sea had
arisen, and as I had no doubts of the character of the ship, I gave him
leave to fill away and proceed on his course (to some one of the
Windward Islands) without boarding him. As I was rounding the ship to,
near this vessel, we came so near a collision that my heart stood still
for a moment as the bows of the huge, heavy-laden ship passed our
quarter, almost near enough to graze it. If she had been thrown upon us
by one of the heavy seas that were running, we should probably have been
cut down to the water's edge and sunk in a few minutes. This will give
me a lesson as to the space my long ship requires to turn in when she
has a sea on the quarter or bow. We are forty days out to-day, have seen
four sails, and three of the four have proved to be foreign. I am not
discouraged, however, but I have had an excellent opportunity to
practise the Christian virtue of patience, which virtue I think I am a
little deficient in.

_Sunday, October 27th_.--A beautiful clear day, with a light breeze from
the E.N.E., and a few summer-like passing trade-clouds. Mustered the
crew. Two sail in one day! 8.30 A.M. A sail was descried in the S.E. We
immediately gave chase with all sail, and added steam to sails in about
an hour and a half. We came up with the chase about 3 P.M.; the vessel
proving very fast. We showed, as usual, the United States colours, the
chase showing the same. Fired a blank cartridge and ordered him to
heave-to. Sent a boat on board and captured him, hauling down the United
States and hoisting our own flag as our officer got on board. She proved
to be the schooner Daniel Trowbridge, of New Haven, Connecticut, from
New York to Demerara, with a cargo of provisions; cargo belonging to
same owner as vessel, D. Trowbridge, of Connecticut. Sent a prize crew
on board, and left in pursuit of another sail that had been descried in
the meantime, with which we came up at dark. She proved to be a
brigantine from Nova Scotia to Demerara (English). Permitted her to
proceed on her course. Banked fires, and put the ship under sail, with a
light at the peak, and the prize in company.

_Monday, October 28th_.--Fine clear weather, with a moderate sea and a
light breeze. Called the prize within hail; hoisted out the long-boat
and sent her alongside and commenced receiving provisions. I felt truly
thankful to a kind Providence for this windfall, for we were running
short of provisions--beef bad, and weevily bread. And here were more
than we needed, and of the best. Pork, beef, hams, flour, bread,
crackers (biscuits), &c.; this was truly a Yankee cargo, there being a
large number of pigs, sheep, and geese on board. A busy, bustling day,
with boats passing to and fro, and men busy on both ships with boxes,
barrels, &c. To get at the cargo we threw overboard the superincumbent
articles, and strewed the sea with Connecticut wooden ware and brooms.

_Tuesday, October 29th_.--Another favourable day for unloading the
prize. Wind light from the East, and not too much sea on. We are filling
up with five months' provisions. In the meantime we are enjoying the
luxury, far away out at sea and forty-three days from port, of fresh
meat; the sheep on board the prize being in excellent condition, and I
have them slaughtered in sufficient numbers for the crew. At noon the
sky becoming overcast; lat. 16.54 N., long. 57.33 W.

_Wednesday, October 30th_.--A beautiful serene day, with a light breeze
from the S.E. and a smooth sea. At 7 A.M., "Sail, ho!" from aloft.
Despatched a couple of boats to the prize schooner to bring away some of
the live stock, and sent orders to the prize master to set fire to the
prize and return on board. These orders being all executed and the boats
run up, at 8.30, steamed in pursuit of the strange sail. At eleven came
up with, and sent a boat on board of the Danish brig Una, from
Copenhagen to Santa Cruz, sixty-nine days out. Permitted her to proceed
on her course after a detention of about half-an-hour. We showed her the
United States colours. This evening, having directed the junior
lieutenant to send to the master of the prize schooner Daniel
Trowbridge, for the log slates of the schooner which he, the master, had
put among his private baggage, it was reported to me that the master in
delivering these articles to the messenger, the sergeant of marines,
used this insolent language--"D---- them. I hope they will do them no
good, and if they want a shirt I can lend them that too." I had the man
seized and put in double irons. Lat. 16.40 N., long. 58.16 W.

_Thursday, October 31st_.--Beautiful clear weather, with a light
breeze from the North and East. Got up and sunned the ball cartridges,
some of which had been damaged by the damp, and overhauled the pumps
which had gotten out of order. At 2 A.M. a light having been reported to
me, I ordered steam gotten up and made pursuit. As we came up with it,
we found it to be a burning fragment of the schooner which we had fired
eighteen hours before. Banked fires. We have been greatly interested
since our last capture in examining a lot of newspapers found on board.
They are as late as the 8th October, and give us most cheering accounts
of the war. We have gloriously whipped the enemy at all points, and have
brought Missouri and Kentucky out of the Union. The tone of the European
press is highly favourable to our cause, and indicates a prompt
recognition of our independence. And all this cheering information we
get from the enemy himself! Lat. 16.54 N., long. 57.59 W. The master of
the prize schooner Trowbridge, having made a very humble apology for his
conduct of yesterday, and asked to be released from confinement, I
directed him to be discharged from close custody and to have his irons
taken off.

The Daniel Trowbridge, however, was the last prize that fell to the
Sumter's lot on this cruise. She was now in the full track of vessels
crossing the Line, and scarcely a day passed without one or more being
overhauled; but the Stars and Stripes appeared to have vanished from the
seas. Vessel after vessel was brought-to, now English, now French, now
belonging to some one or other of the innumerable neutral nations, but
not a Yankee was to be seen, and the ship's company began almost to
weary of their profitless task.

One brief morning's excitement there was, as a large steamer was
descried in the offing, evidently a man-of-war. All was at once alive
and eager on board the little Sumter. The drums beat to quarters, decks
were cleared for action, and every preparation made for combat, as the
Confederate cruiser stood boldly out to meet her expected foe. But again
the eager crew were doomed to disappointment. They were no more to fight
than to capture prizes. As the stranger drew near, the white ensign of
St. George fluttered gracefully to her peak, and after the customary
interchange of civilities, the two vessels went on their respective
courses, and the little Sumter was once more alone on the wide ocean.

A change of cruising ground was now again resolved on, and a course
shaped for the West Indies. Still, however, without success, and at
length the supply of water beginning to fail, the cruise was abandoned,
and on the 9th November the Sumter steamed into Fort de France in
Martinique, having been fifty-seven days at sea.


_A French governor--At church--Visitors--On shore--Prisoners
released--Coaling difficulties--Sympathy for the South--A glass of
grog!--St. Pierre--Curiosity--The Iroquois--An attempt to
intimidate--L'Acheron--Yankee notion of neutrality--Masquerading
--Preparations for a fight--The marine league--The Trent outrage--On
the watch--Violation of rights--A bold attempt--Success_.

_Saturday, Nov. 9th_.--Weather fine during the morning. At daylight, got
up steam and stood in for the land northward of Fort St. Louis' Bay,
running down the coast as we approached. The coast, all the way into the
anchorage, is bold and clear. Ran within three hundred yards of Point
Negro, passing a passenger steamer bound to St. Pierre, and anchored in
six fathoms water, with the south end of the fort bearing E. 1/4 S.,
and the wharf about N. by E. A pilot soon after came on board, and we
got up anchor and went in to the anchorage E. of the fort, the health
officer visiting us in the meantime, and giving us _pratique_.

Sent a lieutenant to call on the Governor, and afterwards visited him
myself. I stated in this interview that I had come into Martinique to
refresh my crew, and obtain such supplies as I needed, coal included.
The Governor replied that he could not supply me with coal from the
Government stock, but I was free to go into the market and purchase what
I wanted, he, the Governor, _not knowing anything about it_; and that as
to my prisoners, if the United States consul at St. Pierre would become
responsible for their maintenance, I might land them. With his consent,
I sent the two masters up to St. Pierre in the packet to see this
consul, and arrange the matter. I despatched also the paymaster to look
after coal and clothing for the crew, giving leave to Lieutenant Chapman
to accompany him. The Governor at one time ordered me to shift my berth,
by returning to my first anchorage; but countermanded the order upon my
demanding an explanation of it. He seemed disposed, too, to restrict my
procuring supplies _at this place_, on the ground that it was merely the
seat of government and a military and naval station; but upon my
insisting upon my right, under the Imperial proclamation, to be treated
in all respects as a lawful belligerent, be abandoned his point. The
French colonies are governed by the minister of Marine, naval officers
being the governors and chief officials. The Governor of Martinique is a

_Sunday, Nov. 10th._--Rain in the early morning, clearing towards eight
o'clock. Went on shore and accompanied M. Guerin to the Governor's mass,
at 8 A.M. The interior of the church is very pleasing, with rare
valuable paintings. The congregation was small. A detachment (one
company from each regiment), entered the main aisle, and formed in
double lines, a few minutes before the commencement of the service. The
Governor and his staff entered punctually, and the service lasted about
three-quarters of an hour. Fine music from a band in the orchestra. The
blacks and whites occupy pews indiscriminately, though there is no
social mixture of the races. All colours have the same political rights,
notwithstanding which the jealousy and hatred of the whites by the
blacks is said to be very great. Was visited by M. Guerin. and a number
of gentlemen--members of the Colonial Legislature and others--to whom I
explained the true issue of the war--to wit, an abolition crusade
against our slave-property; our population, resources, victories,
&c.--to all of which they listened with much appearance of
gratification, and which they also expressed from time to time,
lamenting the blind policy of their Home Government. Mustered the crew,
and read Articles of War. Three of the prisoners have shipped. Let
another batch of liberty-men go on shore. Two of yesterday's batch did
not come off in time this morning. Since came on board. Visited the
Savannah to hear the music, which is given every Sunday evening. It was
a gay and beautiful scene: the moon, the shade, the trees, the statue of
Josephine, the throng of well-dressed men and women, the large band and
the fine music, the ripple of the sea; and last, though not least, the
Katy-dids, so fraught with memories of home, dear home! Visited M.
Guerin after the music, and made the acquaintance of his charming
family, consisting of wife, daughter-in-law, and niece, who gave some
music on the piano and a song. M. Guerin's mother died a nun in the city
of Baltimore, where M. Guerin was himself educated. He retains his early
impressions of Baltimore very vividly.

_Monday, November 11th_.--Weather clear and pleasant, with refreshing
trade-winds; watering ship. Visited the town, and went a-shopping in
company with M. Guerin. Found French manufactured clothing, &c.,
reasonably cheap. In the afternoon strolled on the heights in rear of
the town, and was charmed with the picturesque scenery on every hand.
The little valleys and nooks in which nestle the country houses are
perfect pictures, and the abrupt and broken country presents delightful
changes at every turn. I saw but few signs of diligent cultivation. The
negro race is here, as everywhere else, an idle and thriftless one; and
the purlieus of the town where they are congregated are dilapidated and
squalid. The statue of Josephine in the Savannah is a very fine specimen
of sculpture. It represents her in her customary dress, and she appears,
indeed, a charming woman. This is her native island. The United States
consul came down to-day from St. Pierre, and I landed the remainder of
the prisoners, twelve in number, putting them on parole. I had them all
assembled in the gangway, and questioned them as to their treatment on
board. They all expressed themselves satisfied with it. The officers
returned from St. Pierre, and reported that coal was to be had, but that
the Collector of Customs had prohibited the merchants from sending it to
us. Wrote to the Governor on the Subject:--

Confederate States' steamer Sumter, Port Royal, Nov. 12th, 1861.

SIR,--In the interview which I had the honour to hold with your
Excellency on Saturday last, the 9th inst. I understood your Excellency
to assent to the proposition that I might go into the market at St.
Pierre, and purchase such supplies as I might stand in need of, coal
included. The precise position assumed by your Excellency was, that you
would neither assent nor prohibit. On the faith of this understanding, I
despatched one of my lieutenants and my paymaster to St. Pierre, to make
the necessary purchases, and they have returned and reported to me that
they found an abundance of coal in the market, and at reasonable rates,
and that the owners of it are anxious to supply me with it, but that
your Collector of the Customs had _interposed_, and prohibited the
merchants from selling or delivering it to me. For the information of
your Excellency, I will here state that I have been permitted to coal in
all the ports I have heretofore visited, except only at the French port
of Cayenne, where I was informed that there was no coal in the market,
and where it was insisted that I should undergo a quarantine of five
days before communicating with the town. As it was not convenient for me
to undergo this quarantine, I sailed immediately. I have coaled at
Cienfuegos in the island of Cuba, at Curacao, at Trinidad, at
Paramaribo, and at Maranham. It appears that Spain, Holland, England and
Brazil have each deemed it consistent with their neutrality in the
present war to permit me freely to supply myself with coal. Am I to
understand from the action of your officers at St. Pierre that you have
withdrawn the implied assent given me on Saturday last, and that France,
through your agency, adopts a different and less friendly, rule? Will
France drive a vessel of war of the Confederate States from one of her
islands to a British island to procure coal? And if she does this, on
what principle will she do it? It is a well-settled rule of
international law, that belligerent cruisers have the right to enter
freely into neutral ports for the purpose of replenishing their stores
of provisions, or replacing a lost mast or spar; and why should not they
be equally permitted to receive on board coal?

Coal is no more necessary to the locomotion of a steamer than is a mast
or spar to a sail-ship; it is no more necessary to a cruiser than
provisions. Without a mast or without provisions a sail-ship could not
continue her cruise against the enemy; and yet the neutral permitted her
to supply herself with these articles. Nor can such supplies as these be
placed on the ground of humanity. It would be inhuman, it is true, to
permit the crew of a belligerent cruiser to perish in your ports by
debarring from access to your markets, from day to day; but it does not
follow that it would be inhuman to prevent her from laying in a stock of
provisions to enable her to proceed to sea, and continue her cruise
against the enemy. It is not humanity to supply a vessel with a lost
mast or a spar, and yet no one doubts that this may be done. Humanity,
then, being out of the question, what possible distinction can your
Excellency draw between supplying a vessel with the articles above
mentioned, and supplying her with coal?

Without any one of them she would be unable to prosecute her cruise
against the enemy--why, then, will you supply her with a part, and not
with the whole?

Without troubling your Excellency further, however, with an argument of
the question, I will content myself with stating what I believe to be
the true rule of law, and it is this:--A belligerent ship of war _cannot
increase her armament or her crew in a neutral port, nor supply herself
with ammunition; but with these exceptions she may procure whatever
supply she needs_.

Although it would be an easy matter for me to run to one of the British,
or Danish, or Dutch Islands, I should regret to be obliged to do so, and
to have to inform my Government of the reason. I would not willingly
have France adopt a rule which would effectually shut us out of her
ports, whilst Holland, Great Britain, Spain, and Brazil admit us freely
into theirs. The rule, prohibiting us from bringing our prizes into
neutral ports, operates very harshly upon us, as the weaker naval power
of the belligerents, without adding to it one still more harsh, and
which has the sanction of neither law nor precedent. If, however, it be
the determination of your Excellency to insist upon my departure without
coal, I beg that you will have the goodness to say as much to me in
writing. Your Excellency is the best judge of your instructions, and of
what they require of you.

I have the honour to be,

With much consideration,

Your obedient Servant,
(Signed) R. SEMMES.

To his Excellency M. Maussion de Conde,
l'Amiral et Gouverneur de la Martinique.

We have the gratifying intelligence that Captain Hollins, with some
armed steamers, had driven the enemy from the mouth of the Mississippi,
sinking the Preble, and driving the other vessels on the bar of the S.W.
Pass. Mr. Seward has issued a proclamation, desiring the Governors of
the Northern States to put their forts, &c., in condition, "as well on
the seaboard as on the lakes!" This, with Fremont's abolition
proclamation, will be of great service to us. _Quem Deus,_ &c. The
Governor consents to my coaling at St. Pierre.

_Friday, November 12th_.--Fine, pleasant weather. Watering ship. I did
not visit the shore to-day; some of the officers are on shore dining,
&c., with the French naval officers. There is evidently great sympathy
for us in the island. We have got on board all our "liberty-men," no one
of them having shown a disposition to desert. At 9 P.M., a drunken

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