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The Cruise of the Alabama and the Sumter by Raphael Semmes

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important parts of them, which could only be done in a machinist's shop,
and with facilities not to be found at Gibraltar. In this state of
things, it became necessary, in my judgment, either to lay the ship up,
or to sell her. Of course, the remaining by her of myself, my officers
and crew, in her disabled and useless condition, was not to be thought
of. Still, I felt that the responsibility was a grave one; and deeming
it more respectful to the department that it should be assumed by some
one higher in authority than myself, I reported the facts to the Hon.
James M. Mason, our commissioner in London, and requested him to assume
the power.[7]

[Footnote 7: The following is the letter here referred to:--

C.S. Steamer Sumter, Bay of Gibraltar,
March 3rd, 1862.

SIR,--I had the honour to address you a note a day or two ago,
requesting you to assume the responsibility of giving me an order to lay
the Sumter up, that my officers and myself may return to the Confederate
States, to take a more active part in the war. I now enclose you a copy
of a letter addressed to me by the wardroom officers of this ship on the
same subject, by which you will perceive that there is no difference of
opinion between us as to the policy and propriety of the step indicated.
Each succeeding mail is bringing us intelligence that the enemy is
pressing us on all sides, and it would seem that we shall have occasion
for every arm and all our energies and resources to defend ourselves.
The most that we could hope to accomplish by remaining where we are
would be, perhaps, to occupy the attention of an additional steamer of
the enemy. One steamer will always remain to watch the ship, in whatever
condition she may be; and probably no more than two would continue the
blockade if the officers remained by her. The enemy, having some 300
armed ships afloat, one ship would seem to make no appreciable
difference in his offensive force. I would not press this matter upon
you so earnestly if there was any certainty of my hearing from the
Secretary of the Navy in any reasonable time; but my despatches are
liable to capture, as are his despatches to me, and many months may
therefore elapse before I can receive his orders. I can readily
understand how, under ordinary circumstances, you might hesitate about
giving me this order, but there are frequent occasions in which
responsibility must be assumed, and I respectfully suggest that this is
one of them. To lay the Sumter up without an order from the naval
department involves responsibility either in you or in me; and, as I
stated to you in my last note, it appears to me that the responsibility
may be assumed by you with more propriety than by myself, as you are a
high functionary of the Government, while I am a mere subordinate of a
department. The question of expense, too, is to be considered--the
expenses of the ship, with the utmost economy, being, in round numbers,
1000 dollars per month. Should you decide upon giving me the order, do
me the favour to telegraph me as follows, viz.:--"Your request is
granted--act accordingly." Address me also by mail, as it will take some
days to wind up affairs, and I shall have ample time to receive your
letter before leaving for London.

Respectfully, &c. &c. (Signed) R. SEMMES

Hon. Jas. Mason, Com., &c., London.]

This he did very promptly, and in a few days afterwards I discharged and
paid off in full all the crew, except ten men, and detached all the
officers, except Midshipman Armstrong and a Master's Mate. I placed Mr.
Armstrong in charge of the ship, supplied him with money and provisions
sufficient for himself and his diminished crew for ten months, and
departed myself for London, whither most of the officers also repaired
on their way to the Confederate States. Upon my arrival in London, I
found that the Oreto (Florida) had been despatched some weeks before to
this place; and Commander Bullock having informed me that be had your
orders to Command the second ship he was building, himself, I had no
alternative but to return to the Confederate States for orders. It is
due to Commander Bullock to say, that he offered to place himself
entirely under my orders, and even to relinquish to me the command of
the ship he was building; but I did not feel at liberty to interfere
with your orders. Whilst in London, I ascertained that a number of
steamers were being prepared to run the blockade with arms, &c., and
instead of despatching my officers at once for the Confederate States, I
left men to take charge of these ships, as they should be gotten ready,
and run them in, deeming this the best service they could render the
Government under the circumstances. I came hither myself (accompanied by
my First-Lieutenant and Surgeon), a passenger in the British steamer
Melita, laden with arms, &c., with the same intention. It is fortunate
that I made this arrangement, as many of my officers still remain in
London, and I shall be able to detain them there, to take them with me
in the execution of your order of the 2nd of May, assigning me to the
command of the Alabama. In obedience to this order I shall return by the
first conveyance to England, when the joint energies of Commander
Bullock and myself will be dedicated to the preparation of this ship
for sea. I will take with me Lieut. Kell, Surgeon Galt, and Lieutenant
of Marines, Howell--Mr. Howell and Lieut. Stribling having reached this
port a few days before me, in the British steamer Bahama, from Hamburgh,
laden with arms, &c., for the Confederacy. At the earnest entreaty of
Lieut. Commanding Maffit, I have consented to permit Lieut. Stribling to
remain with him as his First Lieut., on board the Florida; and the
Florida's officers not yet having arrived, Mr. Stribling's place on
board the Alabama will be filled by Midshipman Armstrong, promoted.

It will, doubtless, be a matter of some delicacy and management to get
the Alabama safely out of British waters without suspicion, as Mr.
Adams, the Northern envoy, and his numerous satellites are exceedingly
vigilant in their espionage. We cannot, of course, think of arming her
in a British port. This must be done at some concerted rendezvous, to
which her battery (and the most of her crew) must be sent in a merchant

The Alabama will be a fine ship, quite equal to encounter any of the
enemy's sloops of the class of the Dacotah, Iroquois, Tuscarora, &c.;
and I shall feel much more independent in her upon the high seas than I
did in the little Sumter. I think well of your suggestion of the East
Indies as a cruising-ground, and hope to be in the track of the enemy's
commerce in those seas as early as October or November next, when I
shall doubtless be able to make other rich "burnt-offerings" upon the
altar of our country's liberties.

Lieutenant Sinclair having informed me that you said, in a conversation
with him, that I might dispose of the Sumter either by laying her up or
selling her, as my judgment might approve, I will, unless I receive
contrary orders from you, dispose of her by sale upon my arrival in
Europe. As the war is likely to continue for two or three years yet, it
would be an useless expense to keep a vessel so comparatively worthless
so long at her anchors. I will cause to be sent to the Alabama her
chronometers, charts, &c., and I will transfer to the vessel her
remaining officers and crew.

In conclusion, permit me to thank you very sincerely for this new proof
of your confidence, and for your kind intention to nominate me as one of
the "Captains" under the new Navy Bill.

I trust I shall prove myself worthy of these marks of your approbation.

(Signed) R. SEMMES.

Hon. S. Mallory, Sec. of the Navy.


_The new vessel--Aide toi et Dieu t'aidera--Accommodation on
board--Cost--Laws of neutrality--Necessary caution--The 29th of July--A
breakfast party--The scene changed--Off--The pursuit--Too late._

The vessel to which Captain Semmes was now appointed had been built
expressly for the Confederate navy, by Messrs. Laird and Sons, of
Birkenhead. She was a small fast screw steam-sloop, of 1040 tons
register, not iron-clad, as was at one time erroneously supposed, but
built entirely of wood, and of a scantling and general construction, in
which strength had been less consulted than speed. Her length over all
was about 220 feet, length of keel, 210 feet; breadth of beam, 32 feet,
and 18 feet from deck to keel. She carried two magnificent engines, on
the horizontal principle, constructed by the same firm, and each of the
power of 300 horses; while her coal-bunkers were calculated to
accommodate about 350 tons of coal.

The Alabama, or as she should as yet be called, "No. 290," was
barque-rigged, her standing gear being formed throughout of wire rope;
thus combining strength with lightness to the utmost possible extent.
Her ordinary suit of sails consisted of the usual square sails in the
foremast, fore topmast staysail and jib, large fore and main topsails,
maintop sail, topgallant sail and royal, and on the mizen-mast spanker
and gaff topsail. Occasionally, this rig would be varied, as was the
case in entering Cherbourg, just before the close of her eventful
career, when a crossjack yard was got up across the mizen-mast, with
mizen topsail and topgallant yards to match; and the Alabama assumed for
a time the appearance of a full-rigged ship. This, however, was only a
temporary _ruse_, and her ordinary cruising sails were similar to those
commonly in use with vessels of her class.

A little forward of the mizen-mast was placed the steering apparatus, a
large double wheel, inscribed with the significant words: _Aide toi et
Dieu t'aidera_; a motto which, in the case of the Alabama, has been
better acted up to than such legends usually are. Just before the
funnel, and near the centre of the vessel, was the bridge, at either
side of which hung the two principal boats, cutter and launch; a gig,
and whale-boat, being suspended from the davits on either side of the
quarter-deck, and a small dingy over the stern. On the main deck she was
pierced for twelve guns, with two heavy pivot guns amidships. Her lines
were beautifully fine, with sharp flaring bows, billet head, and
elliptic stern. The cabin accommodation was perhaps somewhat scanty, but
this, in so small a vessel, built altogether for speed, not comfort, was
scarcely to be avoided. The semicircular stern-cabin was, of course,
appropriated to the captain, with a small state-room opening out from it
in the starboard side. Forward of this came the companion ladder, and
forward of this again the wardroom, or senior officers' mess, with small
cabins on either side for the lieutenants, surgeon, and other officers.
Passing through the wardroom, the visitor entered the gunroom, or
"steerage," allotted on the starboard side to the midshipmen, and on the
port to the engineers. Next came the engine-room, occupying an unusual
space for a vessel of the Alabama's size; the coal bunkers, &c.; and
finally, the berth-deck, or forecastle, with accommodation for 120 men.
The lower portion of the vessel was divided into three compartments, of
about equal dimensions. In the aftermost were store-rooms, shell-rooms,
&c.; the midship section contained the furnaces and fire-rooms; whilst
the forward compartment was occupied by the hold, the magazines, and the
boatswain's and carpenter's stores.

Such was the Alabama, or, as she was long called, "No. 290;" and
considering the peculiar circumstances under which she was built, the
numerous requirements to be satisfied, and the perfection of the
workmanship throughout the vessel, the cost of her construction and
armament cannot but be considered marvellously small. The builder's
charge for hull, spars, sails, boats, cable, and all equipment, except
armament, was L47,500. To this must be added the cost of her batteries,
L2500; magazine tanks, L616; ordnance stores, L500; and small arms,
L600, making a-total cost of L51,716, or in American money, of
250,305.44 dollars.

It must not be supposed, however, that in leaving the building-yard of
Messrs. Laird, the Alabama's equipment was by any means complete. The
strictest injunctions had been given both to Captain Bullock and Captain
Semmes, to avoid doing anything that would by any possibility be
construed into an infringement of either the municipal law, or the
anxiously-guarded neutrality of England; and as the Foreign Enlistment
Act clearly forbade the _equipment_ of ships of war for belligerent
uses, it was necessary that the new cruiser should leave England
unarmed, and take her chance of capture, until some safe place could be
found for taking her armament on board.

This was, of course, a delicate operation, and one requiring the
preservation of strict secresy, that the cruisers of the United States
might at least not be enabled to pounce upon their new enemy, until she
had been placed to some extent in a condition for self-defence. Nor was
this the only ground on which caution had to be observed. The career of
the Sumter had given Captain Semmes a clearer idea than he had probably
before possessed of the precise meaning of the word neutrality, as
applied to the present war, and there was too much at stake to run the
risk of detention from any such views of its obligations as had been put
forward in the case of his captive officer at Tangier. The law of the
case might be--he certainly thought it was--clear enough; but there was
no use in throwing temptation in the way of those by whom it was to be
interpreted. The recent cases of the Alexandria, the El Tousson, and the
El Monassir, have shown with sufficient clearness that this calculation
was tolerably correct.

Accordingly, the reticence which has so distinctively marked the men of
the South throughout the struggle, was most religiously observed in the
case of the Alabama. It was impossible, of course, altogether to conceal
from the diligent researches of Mr. Adams' spies the fact of her
destination. But beyond having a strong suspicion that the vessel so
rapidly approaching completion in Messrs. Laird's yard was intended for
the Confederate States, these astute gentlemen were altogether at fault.
This, however, was enough, and on the application of Mr. Adams an order
was despatched to the Customs' authorities at Liverpool to seize the
ship, and prevent her from going to sea.

Fortunately for the Confederate vessel her friends were equally on the
watch, and tidings of the projected seizure were promptly conveyed to
Birkenhead. It was necessary now to act with promptitude, and the final
preparations were pushed on with the utmost speed. At length, at a
quarter past nine on the morning of the 29th July, 1862, the anchor was
got up for the first time since she had been afloat, and the "No. 290"
dropped slowly down the Mersey, anchoring that afternoon in Moelfra Bay.

Even this, however, could not be carried out without considerable
precaution, and it was necessary, as a blind to the suspicious eyes so
constantly employed in watching every movement of the sorely suspected
vessel, to announce that she was merely proceeding for a short trial
trip. To give colour to this pretence, to which her even then unfinished
condition lent a _prima facie_ sanction, a gay party was assembled on
board. A number of ladies, friends and acquaintances of the builders,
enlivened the narrow, and as yet rough and unfinished deck with their
bright costumes, and seemed to afford a sufficient guarantee for the
return of the vessel to port. Luncheon was spread in the cabin, flags
decorated the seats hastily improvised on the sacred quarter-deck, and
all seemed bent upon making holiday.

Suddenly, however, the scene changed. At a signal from the Alabama a
small steam tug came puffing alongside, and to the visitors' great
astonishment they were politely requested to step on board. Relieved of
her gay cargo, the transformation of the Alabama proceeded with
rapidity. The luncheon had been already cleared away, and now seats and
flags, and all the rest of the holiday paraphernalia began speedily to
disappear. Late that evening and all the next day the bustle of
preparation continued, and at two o'clock in the morning of the 31st
July the anchor was once more weighed, and with a strong breeze from the
S.W. the "No. 290" started off, ostensibly on a voyage to Nassau in the

Just in time. That morning the seizure was to have been made. At the
very moment that "No. 290" was heaving up her anchor, a huge despatch
"On Her Majesty's Service" was travelling down to Liverpool, at the top
speed of the north-western mail,[4] commanding the Customs' authorities
to lay an embargo on the ship. The morning was still but very slightly
advanced when through the driving south-westerly squalls came the
gold-laced officials in search of their prize, only to return in outward
appearance considerably crestfallen, inwardly perhaps not altogether so
deeply grieved as a good neutral should have been at the ill success of
their uncomfortable trip.

Two days more and another actor appeared upon the scene. Like her
colleague at Tangier, the United States frigate Tuscarora had got scent
of a valuable prey, and hurried round to the Mersey at full speed of
sail and steam to secure it. But by the time she arrived at Moelfra Bay,
the "No. 290" was already a couple of days upon her outward voyage. The
game was up, and the only resource of the baffled Yankee now lay in
scolding poor Earl Russell, who certainly had been no willing agent in
the escape of the daring little Confederate cruiser.


_"No. 290" at sea--The rendezvous--Small mishaps--Good qualities of the
new ship--Nearly discovered--The captain--Terceira--Anxiety about the
crew--Coaling and arming--Getting to rights--Ready for the cruise_.

"No. 290" ran rapidly before the S.W. gale up the Irish Channel, and
past the Isle of Man and Ailsa Crag, till as the columns of the Giant's
Causeway began to loom dimly through the driving rain she rounded to,
laid her maintopsail to the mast, and sent a boat on shore with the
pilot and Captain Bullock, who up to this time had been in command of
the vessel. She was now transferred to the charge of Captain J. Butcher,
late of the Cunard service, her other temporary officers being--Chief
Lieutenant, J. Law, of Savannah, Georgia; second, Mr. G. Townley Fullam,
of Hull, England; Surgeon, D.H. Llewellyn, of Easton, Wilts; Paymaster,
C.R. Yonge, of Savannah, Georgia; and Chief Engineer, J. McNair, an
Englishman. The crew, the greater number of whom had been taken on board
in Moelfra Bay, numbered about seventy men and boys, and were shipped
for a feigned voyage, the Confederate captain trusting to the English
love of adventure, to induce them to re-ship when the true destination
of the vessel came to be declared.

Bidding adieu to the Irish coast she now shaped her course for Terceira,
one of the Western Islands, where she was to meet her consort, and
receive on board the guns and other warlike stores, she had been
restrained by respect for English law, from shipping in Liverpool.
Throughout this run, which occupied nine days, the wind still continued
blowing a strong gale from the southward and westward, with a heavy sea
running, through which "No. 290" dashed along sometimes at a speed of
upwards of thirteen knots an hour. It was not, however, without a
certain amount of risk that this pace was maintained. Amongst other less
serious damages the bow port was stove in by a heavy sea, and altogether
the vessel showed manifest symptoms of the speed at which she had been
driven. But accidents of this kind were of minor importance compared
with the supreme value of time. Once fairly off, and the news of the
escape must spread rapidly through the kingdom. The first whisper of it
would bring the enemy's ships in pursuit, and a single hour's delay in
reaching her destination and placing herself in a condition for
self-defence, might bring one of them alongside, and the career of the
new cruiser be cut short before it had fairly begun. So "No. 290"
"crashed on" at top speed, and on the 10th of August "Land, ho!" was
called from the foremasthead, and she brought up at Porto Praya in

During this trying voyage the new vessel had given full promise of those
splendid qualities as a sea-boat, on which depended so much of the
extraordinary success of her after career. She was, of course, by no
means in the best trim for sailing, whilst everything about her being
bran new was in the worst possible condition, short of being quite worn
out, in which to enter on so severe a trial. She came through it however
most triumphantly, exhibiting a speed and ease of motion rarely to be
found in combination. All hands arrived at Terceira in the best spirits,
and highly delighted with their new ship.

The bay of Porto Praya, in which "No. 290" was anchored is of no very
great extent, but presents excellent holding ground for vessels, and is
sheltered from all but easterly winds. Three or four small forts occupy
positions on the shore, but appear never to have been armed, and are at
present falling rapidly into decay. The bay itself is secluded, and not
particularly well supplied with the means of sustenance, fruit and
vegetables being tolerably plentiful, but water very scarce, and beef a
luxury only to be obtained by importing it from Angra, on the other side
of the island. The officers however were kindly and hospitably received
by the inhabitants, and the best the place afforded placed at their

As yet the expected consort of the Confederate vessel had not arrived,
and some anxiety was felt by Captain Butcher and his brother officers,
as day after day passed by, and no signs of her appeared. On the 13th
August, expectations were aroused by the cry of "Sail, ho!" but the new
comer proved to be only a Yankee whaling schooner, from Provincetown;
and additional anxiety was occasioned on her arrival by the indiscretion
of one of the ship's company, by whom the real character and design of
"No. 290" was betrayed to the United States schooner, the speedy
departure of which, after learning the news, seemed ominous of trouble.

At last, on the 18th, a large barque was observed steering for the brig,
and on a nearer approach proved to be the long-looked-for ship. She was
the Agrippina, of London, Captain McQueen, with a cargo of ammunition,
coal, stores of various descriptions, and six thirty-two pounders. Once
lashed alongside the sloop, and all haste was made to transfer her
cargo, and the crews of the two vessels were busily engaged in this
operation when, on the 20th of August, the smoke of another steamer was
seen on the horizon, and after a brief interval of suspense, lest the
new comer should prove to be a United States vessel of war, in search of
the escaped Confederate, the Bahama, Captain Tessier, made her number,
and three hearty cheers from the crew of "No. 290" gave welcome to
Captain Semmes, and the other officers late of the Sumter.

Captain Semmes embarked on board the Bahama at Liverpool, on the morning
of Wednesday, 13th August, joining the ship in a steam-tug, the Bahama
having dropped down towards the mouth of the Mersey a few hours
previously. Captain Bullock, who, as it has been said, had seen the new
ship safely off upon her voyage before leaving her at the Giant's
Causeway, and had reported the happy commencement of the adventure,
accompanied him on board the Bahama, in which were also a number of
seamen, shipped, like those on board "No. 290," for a feigned voyage, in
the hope of inducing them to join when the ship was fairly in

* * * * *

As the tug left us to return to the city--writes Captain Semmes--the
crew gave us three hearty cheers, to which we responded. After a passage
of seven days, we made the island of Terceira, and soon afterwards the
port of Praya, at the eastern end of the island, our appointed
rendezvous. As we approached the port we looked with eager eyes for "No.
290," and her consort, the Agrippina, which had been despatched to her
from London with the armament. Greatly to our satisfaction we soon
discovered the spars, and then the hulls of both vessels lying snugly in
the bay, and apparently in contact, and indicating the transhipment of
the battery, &c.

At about 11.30 A.M. we steamed into the harbour, and were immediately
boarded by Captain Butcher, who reported that he had already gotten on
board all the heavy guns, and many of the paymaster's stores, &c. As the
harbour is open to the east, and as the wind was blowing from the N.E.,
driving a considerable swell in, which caused the two vessels to lie
very uneasily alongside of each other, I gave orders that they should
both follow me to the bay of Angra, where we all anchored about 4 P.M.
Hauled the two steamers alongside, and commenced discharging the two
additional guns.

After having shown the new vessel to the seamen I had on board the
Bahama (numbering thirty-seven), I addressed them, telling them that
they were released from the contract they had entered into at Liverpool,
and were now perfectly free to dispose of themselves, and that I invited
them to enter with me on board my ship. I spoke of the war, explained to
them the object of my contemplated cruise, and the inducements held out
to them of prize-money, &c. This afternoon about one-half the number
shipped; the others hung back, perhaps, for better terms. There are,
perhaps, some sea-lawyers among them influencing their determination. I
moved my baggage on board, and slept my first night on board my new
ship. Warned by the authorities that West Angra was not a port of
entry, and that we must move to East Angra.

_Thursday, August 21st_.--Clear fine weather. I am charmed with the
appearance of Terceira. Every square foot of the island seems to be
under the most elaborate cultivation; the little fields divided by
hedgerows of what appeared to be sugar-cane. The white one-storied
houses are dotted thickly among all this cultivation, giving evidence of
great populousness in this primitive paradise--so far removed away from
the world, and so little resorted to by commerce. Wind inclined to haul
to the S.E., which will open us to the sea again, and I am, of course,
quite anxious. Received a letter (or rather Captain Butcher, who is
still the nominal commander of the ship, did) from the English Consul,
informing us that the authorities still insisted upon our going round to
East Angra. Replied that we had come in to receive coal from the barque
in our company, &c., and that as the day seemed fine, and we should
probably have a good lee for the purpose, I would go to sea without the
marine league for the purpose. I knew they suspected me of arming as
well as coaling, and hence I resorted to this step to quiet their
apprehensions of my infringing their neutrality.

Stood along the island--the Bahama in company and the barque
alongside--and hoisted out the gun-carriages, and mounted as many of the
guns as we could. Returned during the afternoon, and after nightfall
anchored in East Angra, with the barque still alongside. We were hailed
very vociferously as we passed in very bad English or Portuguese, we
could not make out which, and a shot was fired at us. The Bahama, which
was following, hauled off and stood off and on during the night; we
continued our course, and anchored about 8.30 P.M. Near midnight I was
aroused from a deep sleep into which I had fallen after the fatigue and
exertions of the day, and informed by the officer of the deck very
coolly that the man-of-war schooner was firing into us. As I knew they
did not dare to fire _into_ me but were only firing at me, perhaps to
alarm me into going out of the harbour, I directed the officer to take
no notice of the proceeding. In the morning we learned that this had
been a false alarm, and that the firing had been from the mail steamer
to bring on board her passengers.

Had a talk with the old boatswain's-mate, who consented to go with me,
and to use his best exertion to bring over to me all the good men over
whom he could exercise influence.

_Friday, August 22nd_.--Wind from the S.W., promising us a smooth day
for our work. Called all hands at 6 A.M., and commenced coaling. At 7
A.M. a number of Custom House officers and the English Consul came on
board. Our coaling was suspended until the two ships could be entered at
the Custom House. We lost a couple of hours by this visit, but I was
gratified to learn as the result of it that we might remain quietly and
continue our coaling, &c.

We got the remaining guns into position; got up and loaded some of the
rifles; opened a barrel of cartridges, and made sundry other hasty
preparations for defense, in case any attempt should be made to seize
the ship. At 11.30 A.M. signalled the Bahama, and brought her in to her
anchors. Towards night the weather became rainy, and considerable sea
setting in to the harbour, we shoved the barque off to an anchor. During
the night she dragged her anchor, and we were obliged to send a party on
board her to let go another, to prevent her from dragging on shore.
There was quite a row this evening on board the barque, ending in a
general fight, the sailors by some means or other having managed to get

_Saturday, August 23rd._--Morning cloudy and rainy. We were unable to
get the barque alongside, so as to continue coaling before 9 A.M. Still
we are hurrying the operation, and hope to be able to get through by
night. We have all sorts of characters on board, but the crew is working
quite willingly; now and then a drunken or lazy vagabond turning up. The
sharp fellows thinking I am dependent upon them for a crew are holding
back and trying to drive a hard bargain with me.

Getting the battery to rights, and caulking the screw-well, which leaks
badly when she is under way. Made some acting appointments to fill up my
officers. Received on board a fine supply of fresh provisions and
vegetables for the crew. In this beautiful island all the fruits of the
temperate and many of the torrid zone are produced. Pine-apples, pears,
plums, and melons were brought off to us.

We finished coaling, except seven or eight tons, by working until 9
P.M., when the men were fairly fagged out. Hauled the barque off, and
resolved to go out with what coal I had on board, as to finish entirely
would involve a delay of Sunday.


_Sunday, 24th August--Fairly afloat--Taking command--The white
ensign--Mission of the Alabama--The Modern Tar--At the pumps--Blowing
hard--A fruitless chase--Short-handed--The Ocmulgee_.

Sunday seemed destined from the very first to be a notable day in the
annals of the new Confederate cruiser.

The morning of Sunday, the 24th August, found her afloat ready for sea;
the delicate operation of transhipping stores in an open roadstead
safely accomplished, a supply of coal on board sufficient for some weeks
of average steaming, and six of her guns mounted and ready to cast loose
for action at a moment's notice. The early hours of the morning were
occupied in washing down the decks which were covered thickly with coal,
and making matters above board as shipshape as under the circumstances
could be managed. By noon this was finished, and all was ready for sea.
A brief space was then devoted to the no less necessary operation of
dining, and at noon steam was got up, the anchor weighed, and "No. 290"
stood out to sea, the Bahama still keeping her company.

For about four or five miles the two vessels kept silently upon their
course, until well beyond all possibility of dispute as to the too
well-remembered maritime league of neutrality. Then as four bells
sounded from the forecastle the crew were summoned aft, all heads were
bared, and stepping in full uniform on to the quarter-deck, Captain
Semmes proceeded in a voice clear and firm, but not altogether free from
emotion, to read aloud to the assembled ships his commission from the
President as Commander of the Confederate States Steam Sloop, ALABAMA.

As he proceeded, the English flag which had been carried by the vessel
during her days of incognito, was slowly lowered to the deck, and three
little black balls might be seen wriggling their way swiftly but
cautiously to the mastheads and mizen peak of the Alabama. Boom! goes
the starboard forecastle gun as the reading is ended. The three black
balls are "broken out," the long pendant uncurls itself at the main, the
red cross of St. George flutters at the fore, and the pure white ensign
of the Confederacy, with its starry blue cross upon the red ground of
the corner, floats gracefully from the peak, as the little band breaks
into the dashing strains of "Dixie," and three ringing cheers peal out
over the sparkling sea.

So far all had gone well and hopefully, and the enthusiasm of the moment
had brought a flush to the cheek and a dimness to the eye of many a
weather-beaten tar among the little crew. But enthusiasm is fleeting in
these practical days, and the sound of the last cheer had scarcely died
away upon the summer breeze ere the scene changed, and the true
nineteenth century spirit resumed its sway. The ceremony of hoisting the
flag and taking command completed, Captain Semmes called all hands aft
upon the quarter-deck, and addressed them as he had previously
addressed the crew of the Bahama, inviting them to ship with him in the
Alabama for the cruise.

The address is described by those who listened to it as most spirited
and effective. It frankly avowed that the principal object of the
Alabama was to cripple the commerce of the enemy. But this would not be
her only aim. Prudence was essential, and he was not to fight a
fifty-gun ship, but when the opportunity offered of engaging on anything
like equal terms, the Alabama would be prompt enough to accept the
combat. "Let me once see you," he said, in conclusion, "proficient in
the use of your weapons, and trust me for very soon giving you an
opportunity to show the world of what metal you are made."

The address was greeted with an unanimous burst of cheers, and then came
the anxious moment. "It may be supposed," writes Captain Semmes, in
recording the events of that memorable day, "that I was very nervous
about the success of this operation, as the management of the ship at
sea absolutely depended upon it." And of this fact the men were at least
as fully aware as himself. Nor had they any scruples as to availing
themselves most fully of the advantages of their situation. "The modern
sailor," continues Captain Semmes, "has greatly changed in character. He
now stickles for pay like a sharper, and seems to have lost his
recklessness and love of adventure." However this latter proposition may
be, the truth of the former was most amply proved on the day in
question. Jack niggled and haggled, and insisted pertinaciously on the
terms he felt his would-be Captain's necessity enabled him to command;
and in the end Captain Semmes was fain to consent to the exorbitant
rates of L4 10s. a month for seamen, L5 and L6 for petty officers, and
L7 for firemen! "I was glad," he writes, "to get them even upon these
terms, as I was afraid a large bounty in addition would be demanded of

Very curious was the contrast afforded by this scene with the enthusiasm
that had preceded, and the gallant, dashing, reckless career that
followed it. These men who thus stood out for the last sixpence they
could hope to wring from their employer's necessity, were the same who
subsequently dashed blindfold into the action with the Hatteras, and
later yet, steamed quietly out of a safe harbour with a disabled ship,
to meet an enemy in perfect trim and of superior force, and as their
shattered vessel sank beneath their feet, crowded round the very captain
with whom the hard bargain had been driven, imploring him not to yield.

Finally, the bargaining resulted in the shipping of a crew, all told, of
eighty men; a larger number, perhaps, than Captain Semmes had himself
anticipated, but still not so many by at least twenty-five as were
required for properly manning and fighting the vessel. With these,
however, the Captain was fain to be content, trusting to volunteers from
future prizes to complete his complement. A hard evening's work followed
in preparing allotments of pay to be sent home to the sailors' wives,
and also in paying their advance wages, and sending small drafts for
them to agents in Liverpool. It was not till 11 P.M. that this task was
completed, and then Captains Bullock and Butcher took a final farewell
of the ship, and returned on board the Bahama, which with the remainder
of the two crews steamed away for Liverpool, and the Confederate cruiser
was left alone upon the wide ocean, and had fairly started on her
adventurous career.

No sooner had the two steamers parted company than sail was made on
board the Alabama. The fires were let down, fore and main topsails were
set, the ship's head turned to the N.E., and by midnight Captain Semmes
was able to leave the deck, and thoroughly worn out with the day's
excitement and exertions, turn in to an uneasy berth in search of a few
hours' repose.

Of this, however, there was not much to be obtained. The Alabama was no
sooner under way than the wind began to freshen, and soon increased to a
moderate gale. This was accompanied by one of those ugly seaways so
common in the North Atlantic, and the vessel rolled and tumbled in a
manner sufficiently trying, without the addition of the manifold
discomforts inseparably attendant on a first start. These, too, were, as
may well be supposed, not a little aggravated by the hurried manner in
which the transhipment of stores from the Agrippina and Bahama had
perforce been conducted. Everything, in fact, was in the wildest
confusion. The ship herself was dirty and unsettled, and her decks below
lumbered in all directions with all manner of incongruous articles. No
one was berthed or messed, nothing arranged or secured. Spare
shot-boxes, sea-chests, and heavy articles of baggage or cabin furniture
were fetching away to the destruction of crockery and other brittle
ware, and the no small danger of limbs. While to crown all, the upper
works of the vessel which had been caulked in the damp atmosphere of an
English winter, had opened out under the hot sun of the Azores through
every seam, and the eternal clank, clank of the pumps, which it was
fondly hoped had been heard for the last time when the poor, worn-out
little Sumter had been laid up, played throughout the long night a
dismal accompaniment to the creaking of the labouring vessel, and the
wild howling of an Atlantic gale.

So passed the Alabama's first night at sea. The next day the gale still
continued, and hindered not a little the energetic exertions of the
First Lieutenant, who, whilst Captain Semmes endeavoured, by snatching a
few hours' sleep, to quiet his worn-out nerves, took his turn in the
endeavour to bring something of order out of the apparently hopeless
chaos, and gradually reduce the vessel to the trim and orderly condition
proper to a well-commanded man-of-war. On the Tuesday the gale abated,
though there were still the remains of a heavy sea. Topsails and
gallantsails were set, and the propeller, which had hitherto been merely
disconnected, and left to revolve, was hoisted up out of the water.

Several days now passed in setting matters to rights, passing spare shot
below, laying the racers for the pivot guns; overhauling and stowing the
magazines; securing furniture, baggage, and other loose articles that
had hitherto pretty well "taken charge" of the deck below; and otherwise
making things somewhat snug and shipshape, and preparing the vessel for
self-defence in case of need.

By Friday, August 29th, these preparations were nearly completed, and in
the early morning of that day the cry of "Sail, ho!" was heard for the
first time from the look-out at the fore-topgallant crosstrees of the
Alabama. The ship was at once kept away towards her, and after a long
chase, approached at near nightfall to within five or six miles of the
strange sail. The vessel proved to be a brig, and on nearing her Spanish
colours were shown by the Alabama. The brig made no response, and the
cruiser proceeded to fire a blank cartridge, as an intimation of her
character. Still the stranger kept doggedly upon her way, without
response, and it became a question whether ulterior measures should be
taken. After careful examination, however, of all those various
indications by which a sailor can judge of the nationality of a vessel,
almost as effectively as from a sight of her colours, it was decided
that she was, at all events, not an American; and Captain Semmes,
being-anxious to haul by the wind, and make his way with all speed to
the westward, the chase was abandoned, and the Alabama proceeded again
upon her course.

The next day, Saturday, August 30th, saw the preparations for the
battery complete, and the pivot guns finally mounted, and ready for
action. The men were now allotted to the various stations, and mustered
at quarters, when it was found, that by telling off half a dozen of the
junior officers to complete the crew of the rifled gun, there were just
hands enough to fight the ship. This was satisfactory; and altogether
the five hard days' work since quitting Terceira had resulted in
something more like success in the way of order, comfort, and
efficiency, than it had at first sight appeared possible to anticipate.

Sunday, August 31st, was a welcome day of rest to all on board; the only
break being a brief run off after a brig to leeward, which on being
challenged with French colours, proved to be a Portuguese. During the
day the Alabama made good running to the westward, under topsails, with
a fresh breeze well on her starboard quarter; and at midnight made all
snug, and brought by the wind on the port tack. The next day was passed
for the most part in quietly lying to under topsails, with her head to
the southward and eastward, whilst the crew were employed in finishing
the fittings of the battery, and scraping the deck and bulwarks clear of
some of the accumulated dirt, till 3 P.M., when she filled away again,
and started upon a N.W. course.

By Tuesday, Sept. 5th, the Alabama had run into the thirty-eighth
parallel, and the temperature was sensibly altering. Up to this period
no prize had been captured, the few vessels overhauled having all been
under a neutral flag. On this day, however, whilst in chase of a brig,
whose extraordinary swiftness enabled her fairly to show the Alabama a
clean pair of heels, a vessel was descried in the offing, and the
Confederate bore up and made towards her. On approaching she was found
to be lying-to, with her foretopsail laid to the mast, and on a somewhat
nearer inspection, proved evidently to be a whaler.

English colours were hoisted on board the Alabama, and a cheer was with
difficulty suppressed as the Stars and Stripes rose in answer to the
stranger's deck. Arrived within boarding distance, a boat was at once
sent on board the prize, the Alabama's red ensign giving place to the
Confederate flag as the boarding officer gained her deck. She proved to
be the Ocmulgee, of Edgartown, her captain, by name Abraham Osborn,
being a thorough specimen of the genuine Yankee. She was, of course,
taken possession of, her crew brought on board the Alabama and placed in
irons, and a quantity of rigging, of which the latter was much in need,
together with some beef, pork, and other small stores, transferred to
the captor. A light was then hoisted at her peak; her helm lashed hard
a-lee; the prize crew re-transferred to their own ship, and the Ocmulgee
left to her own devices, the Alabama lying by her during the night.

The next morning another sail hove in sight, so the prize was fired, and
the Alabama again started off in chase, having taken from the prize
thirty-six prisoners besides the stores, rigging, &c., before alluded
to. The new chase proved to be a Frenchman, bound to Marseilles; and
this fact having been ascertained, the Alabama was kept away N. 1/2 W.,
and in two hours afterwards was in sight of the island of Flores.


_A muster--Prisoners landed--The Starlight--Santa Cruz--Novel night
procession--The Alert--Three sacrifices in a day--Weather Gauge
captured--The Altamaha--A signal--The Benjamin Tucker--Burnt!--The
Courser--Target practice--The Virginia--The Elisha Dunbar_.

From the 7th to the 18th of September was a busy time on board the
Alabama. Prize after prize was taken, and Captain Semmes' journal, as
will be seen, is chiefly taken up with records of successful chases.

_Sunday, September 7th._--Running in for the island of Flores. At 11
A.M. mustered the crew for the first time, and caused to be read the
Articles of War, to which they listened with great attention. At 3.30
P.M., having approached sufficiently near the town of Lagens, on the
south side of the island, we sent all the prisoners on shore, having
first paroled them in the three whale-boats belonging to the prize,
Ocmulgee. At 4 P.M. filled away upon the starboard tack to head off a
schooner that appeared to be running in for the island. Having
approached her within a mile, we hoisted the English colours. The chase
not showing her colours in return, fired the lee bow gun. Still paying
no attention to us, but endeavouring to pass us, fired a shot athwart
her bows. Not yet heaving-to, or showing colours, fired a second shot
between her fore and mainmast; she then hoisted the United States
colours and rounded-to. Sent a boat on board and took possession. The
captain coming on board with his papers, she proved to be the Starlight,
of Boston, from Fayal to Boston _via_ Flores. She had a number of
passengers; among others, some ladies. Put a prize crew on board of her.
Brought on board all the United States seamen, seven in number,
including the captain, and confined them in irons, and ordered the prize
to remain close to us during the night. Some dark clouds hanging over
the island, but the wind light and the sea smooth.

Among the papers captured were a couple of despatches to the Sewards,
father and son, informing them of our operations at Terceira. This
small craft left Boston only six days before we left Liverpool in the
Bahama. How strangely parties meet upon the high seas! The master was
the cleverest specimen of a Yankee skipper I have met, about
twenty-seven or twenty-eight. He avowed his intention of trying to run
the gauntlet of my shot, deprecated the war, &c., &c.

_Monday, September 8th_.--* * * * Again stood in to the town of Santa
Cruz, in company with the prize; lowered the cutter, and sent the
prisoners on shore, with a note addressed to the Governor. In the
meantime the Governor himself with several citizens came on board us.
The Governor offered us the hospitalities of the island, and in return I
expressed to him the hope that his fellow-citizens who were passengers,
had suffered no inconvenience from her capture.

In the afternoon, gave chase and showed English colours to a Portuguese
brigantine. We then wore ship, and chased a barque in the north-west,
with which we came up about sunset. She proved to be the whaling barque
Ocean Rover, from Massachusetts, forty months out, with a cargo of 1100
barrels of oil. Laid her to for the night, and permitted the captain and
his crew to pull in to the shore (Flores) in his six whale boats. The
sea being smooth, the wind light off shore, and the moon near her full,
this was a novel night procession!

_Tuesday, September 7th_.--* * * * I was aroused in the mid-watch,
having had about only three hours' sleep, after a day of fatigue and
excitement, by the announcement that a large barque was close aboard of
us. We were lying to at the time in company with our two prizes. Wore
ship very quietly, and gave chase. The chase rather got the wind of us,
though we head-reached upon her, and at daylight we hoisted the English
flag. The barque not responding, fired a blank cartridge. She still not
responding, fired a shot astern of her, she being about two miles
distant. This brought her to with the United States colours at her peak;
put a boat on board, and took possession of her. She proved to be the
Alert, from New London, sixteen days from port; bound, _via_ the Azores,
Cape de Verde, &c., to the Indian Ocean. Supplied ourselves from her
with some underclothing for the men, of which we stood in need.

About 9 A.M. fired the Starlight; at 11 fired the Ocean Rover; and at 4
P.M. fired the Alert. Boarded a Portuguese whaling-brig, the master of
which I brought on board with his papers. These proving to be regular, I
dismissed him within a few minutes. Sent the captain and crew of the
Alert on shore, to the village on the north end of Flores, in their own
boats, four in number.

Sail, ho! at 5 P.M. Filled away, and gave chase to a schooner in the
N.E. She was standing for us at first, but tacked on our approach, and
endeavoured to run. We had shown her the United States colors, and she
also had hoisted them, but she distrusted us. A blank cartridge brought
her round again, and hove her to. Sent a boat on board, and took
possession of the schooner Weather Gauge, of Provincetown, six weeks
out. The last two captures supplied us with large numbers of Northern
newspapers as late as August 18th. * * *

_Saturday, September 13th_.--Gave chase to a sail reported on the
weather bow, and upon coming up with her, and heaving her to with a
blank cartridge, she proved to be the hermaphrodite whaling brig
Altamaha, from New Bedford, five months out. Little or no success.
Captured her, put a prize crew on board, and made sail in chase of a
barque to windward.

* * * * *

_Sunday, September 14th_.--* * * Last night at a quarter past eleven I
was aroused by the report that a large ship was close on board of us.
Hurried on deck, wore ship, and gave-chase; the strange sail being about
two to two and a half miles from us, partially to windward. Made all
sail, held our wind, and gradually eat him out of the wind, as well as
head-reached on him. Fired a blank cartridge, which he disregarded.
Continued to overhaul him, and when we had gotten on his weather-beam,
distant about half a mile from him, fired a second gun, which speedily
brought him to the wind with his maintopsail to the mast. Sent a boat on
board, with an order to the officer to show me a light if she should
prove to be an American; and in a few minutes after the officer got on
board a light was shown at the peak. Lay by him until daylight, when the
captain was brought on board. The ship proved to be the United States
whaler Benjamin Tucker, from New Bedford, eight months out, with about
340 barrels of oil. Crew thirty. Brought everybody on board, received
some soap and tobacco, and fired the ship. Made sail to the S.E.

_Monday, September 15th_.--* * * Caulking the decks, which are already
quite open. Made the island of Flores from the masthead late in the
afternoon. Exercised the crew at quarters. Shipped one of the prisoners
from last prize--a Hollander.

_Tuesday, September 16th_.--* * * * At daylight made a schooner on the
starboard bow. Gave chase, and at 7.30 hove her to with a blank
cartridge, and sent a boat on board, she showing United States colours.
She proved to be the whaling schooner Courser, of Provincetown,
Massachusetts. Took possession of her as a prize. Stood in towards
Flores, within four or five miles, and sent all the prisoners from the
last three prizes on shore in their own whale boats, eight in number.
Number of prisoners sixty-eight. About 5 P.M., having taken the prize
some eight or ten miles distant from the land, hove her to, called all
hands to quarters, and made a target of her, firing three rounds from
each gun. The practice was pretty fair for green hands for the first
time. We hulled the target once, and made a number of good line shots.
At dark fired the prize, and made sail to the westward.

_Wednesday, September 17th_.--* * * At 7.30 A.M. gave chase to a sail on
the starboard bow, and at meridian came up with and took possession of,
the United States whaling barque Virginia, twenty-one days from New
Bedford. Received papers as late as the 28th August. Got on board from
the prize a large supply of soap, candles, &c.; and after bringing the
prisoners on board, fired her; filled away, and made sail to the N.W.

_Thursday, September 18th_.--* * * Gave chase to a barque, which,
discovering our purpose, made all sail and tried to escape. Came up with
her at 2 P.M., after a chase of about three hours. Hoisted the English
ensign, to which she refused to respond. Fired the starboard bow gun,
and ran up our own flag, when she shortened sail and hove-to. Sent a
prize crew on board, she showing the United States ensign. Brought the
master on board. She proved to be the whaling barque Elisha Dunbar, of
New Bedford, twenty-four days out. As it was blowing fresh and
threatening a gale of wind, we got all the prisoners on board in the
course of about a couple of hours, and set fire to the barque. Reefed
topsails, set the fore trysail with the bonnet off, and stood on a wind
on the starboard tack to the S. and E.


_Successive gales--Uncomfortable quarters--Weather moderates--Blowing
again--The Emily Farnum and the Brilliant--Neutral cargo--Ransomed--In
flames--The Wave Crest--The Dunkirk--Religious smuggling--A deserter
caught--A court martial--The Tonawanda--Precautions--The Manchester
burnt--Hope--Parting company--The Lamplighter--A hurricane--Great
danger--A cyclone--Safely passed_.

After this burst of good fortune in the way of prizes, during which the
Alabama had destroyed upwards of 230,000 dollars' worth of United States
property--or an amount very nearly equal to her own entire cost--in
eleven days, a lull was experienced. A succession of gales from various
points of the compass now prevailed with more or less violence for seven
or eight days, during a great portion of which the Alabama was lying to,
in a heavy sea under close-reefed maintopsail and reefed trysails.

These were hard times for the prisoners; huddled together on deck, with
no shelter but an extemporized tarpaulin tent between them and the
pelting of the pitiless storm, which drenched the decks alternately with
salt water and fresh, as the heavy rain-squalls came down, or the sea,
glittering with phosphoric light, came dashing over the weather
bulwarks. There was, however, no alternative. The berth-deck was already
fully occupied by the Alabama's own crew, and the unlucky prisoners were
compelled to make the best of their uncomfortable position, and console
themselves with the hope that some vessel with a neutral cargo might
fall on the same ill-fortune with themselves, and afford them a chance
of being paroled and sent ashore.

As the sun crossed the line the weather moderated, and by the 25th of
September all was again calm and fair, and the crew busy caulking the
decks, which had leaked terribly during the gales. They were followed by
a succession of calms and light baffling winds, the delay occasioned by
which was turned to advantage in practising the crew at the battery, and
with small arms.

With the commencement of another month the rough weather returned. The
2nd October was a real ugly-looking day, with dense black clouds and a
Newfoundland north-easter blowing freshly. No observation was to be had,
the thick clouds altogether shutting out the sun, and the ship being in
the current of the Gulf Stream, the most she could do was to guess at
her position within some thirty or forty miles.

On the 3rd the weather moderated, and fortune again smiled upon the
Alabama. The morning watch was not yet over when two sails were
descried, the one ahead, the other on the lee bow, each of which in its
turn was overhauled and captured; the one proving to be the Emily
Farnum, from New York for Liverpool; the other, the Brilliant, from the
same port for London, with a valuable cargo of grain and flour.

The cargo of the Emily Farnum being neutral property, the vessel was
released as a cartel, the prisoners from the Brilliant being transferred
to her, as also those already on board from the other prizes, a change,
as may well be imagined, sufficiently acceptable to those unfortunate
beings who had now been exposed for nearly three weeks to all the
vicissitudes of an autumn in the North Atlantic. This done, the Emily
Farnum was permitted to proceed upon her way. The Brilliant was then
stripped of everything that could be of use to her captors, set on fire,
and left to her fate.[8] From the papers taken on board of this vessel
the crew of the Alabama learned the good news of the Confederate
victories in Virginia, and also of the successful run of the
screw-steamer Florida into a Confederate port. The two vessels also
brought to the Alabama a prize, in the persons of four new recruits,
which, in the short-handed condition of the ship, was of more real value
to her than the vessels themselves.

[Footnote 8: One of the Alabama's officers writes in his private

"It seemed a fearful thing to burn such a cargo as the Brilliant had,
when I thought how the Lancashire operatives would have danced for joy
had they it shared amongst them. I never saw a vessel burn with such
brilliancy, the flames completely enveloping the masts, hull, and
rigging in a few minutes, making a sight as grand as it was appalling."]

The barque Wave Crest, of and from New York, for Cardiff, with a cargo
of grain, was the Alabama's next victim. She was chased and captured on
the 7th of October, and having no evidence of the neutral ownership of
her cargo, was condemned and set on fire, after serving for some time as
a target, at which her captors might practise their firing. She was
still blazing merrily, when another vessel was descried from the
masthead, and at 9.30 P.M. of a beautiful moonlight night, a blank shot
from the Alabama brought up the smart little brigantine Dunkirk, from
New York, for Lisbon, also loaded with grain. A boat was sent on board
of her, and her papers handed over to one of the Alabama's officers. No
evidence of neutrality, however, was to be found, and before midnight
she too was a blazing wreck, and her captain and crew prisoners on board
the Confederate steamer.

The Dunkirk proved noteworthy in two ways. On searching through her
papers, it appeared that besides her ostensible cargo she was also
employed in what may be termed a kind of religious smuggling. Some
Portuguese copies of the New Testament were discovered, together with a
number of tracts in the same language, tied up in large bundles, on the
back of one of which was the endorsement:--"Portuguese Tracts; from the
'American Tract Society,' for distribution among Portuguese passengers,
and to give upon the coast to visitors from the shore, &c. When in port,
please keep conspicuously on the cabin table for all comers to read;
but be very careful not to take any ashore, as the laws do not allow

It appeared, however, that the conscience of the society had pricked
them for this concession to the majesty of the law, and a pen had been
carefully run through the last sentence. A little lower down, upon the
same packet, was written, "As may be convenient, please report (by
letter, if necessary) anything of interest which may occur in connexion
with the distribution; also take any orders for Bibles, and forward them
to John S. Peerin, Marine Agent, New York Bible Society, No. 7 Beekman

The other noteworthy fact in connexion with the Dunkirk was the capture
on board of her of one of the seven sailors who had deserted from the
Sumter whilst lying at Cadiz ten months before. This man, whose name was
George Forrest, was at once recognised, and on the day but one after his
capture on board the enemy's vessel, a court-martial, consisting of the
first lieutenant (president); senior second lieutenant; master, chief
engineer, and lieutenant of marines, with the captain's clerk as
judge-advocate, was assembled in the wardroom to try the prisoner for
the crime of desertion. The evidence was, of course, simple enough, and
the man was found guilty, and sentenced to lose all pay, prize money,
etc., already due to him, and to fulfil his original term of service,
forfeiting all pay and allowances, except such as should be sufficient
to provide necessary clothing and liberty money.

That same afternoon another sail was descried and chased, and just
before sunset the Alabama came up with and brought to, the fine packet
ship Tonawanda, of Philadelphia, belonging to Cope's Liverpool line, and
bound from Philadelphia to Liverpool with a full cargo of grain, and
some seventy-five passengers. Here was a serious matter of
embarrassment; of the seventy-five passengers, some thirty or more were
women, and what to do with such a prize it was hard to know. It was, of
course, impossible to take the prisoners on board; yet Captain Semmes
was, not unnaturally, reluctant to release so fine a vessel if he could
by any possibility so arrange matters as to be able to destroy her. It
was therefore determined to place a prize crew on board, and keep the
ship in company for a time, in hopes that ere long some other vessel of
less value to the enemy, or guarded from destruction by a neutral cargo
might, by good luck, be captured, and thus afford an opportunity of
sending the prisoners away upon cartel.

Accordingly, a bond was taken of the captain for eighty thousand
dollars, as a measure of precaution, in case it should be found
necessary to let the ship go without further parley, and a prize master
having been put on board the Tonawanda, was ordered to keep company, and
her captor started off on a chase after a brig, which on being
overhauled proved to be English. One transfer, however, was made from
the prize, being nothing less than a well-grown and intelligent negro
lad, named David White, the slave of one of the passengers, who was
transferred to the Alabama as waiter to the wardroom mess, where he
remained until the closing scene off Cherbourg, by no means disposed, so
far as his own word may be taken for it, to regret the change of

The following day, as an additional security, the master of the
Tonawanda was brought as a hostage on board the Confederate steamer, the
prisoners from the last two ships burned being at the same time
transferred to the prize. In this manner the two vessels cruised in
company for two or three days--an anxious time enough for the crew and
passengers of the unlucky Tonawanda, who spent most of their time in
eagerly scanning the horizon, in the hope that some armed vessel of
their own nation might appear in sight, and rescue them from their
unpleasant predicament. No such luck, however, was to be theirs; but on
the 11th October, a fresh addition was made to their numbers in the crew
of the Manchester, a fine United States ship from New York to Liverpool,
the glare of which as she, like so many others, was committed to the
flames, by no means alleviated their anxiety, as they thought how soon a
similar fate might befall their own vessel, should fortune not interpose
to arrest the disaster.

At length, on the 13th October, excitement prevailed on board of both
vessels, and the hopes of the anxious passengers on board the Tonawanda
rose to fever pitch, as a large vessel was seen bearing down under
topsails only, her easy-going style of sailing seeming to prove
conclusively to a sailor's eye, that she must be either a whaler or a
man-of-war. On board the Alabama the former was the favorite
supposition, and hopes ran high of another glorious bonfire fed by tons
of brightly burning sperm oil. The aspirations of the Tonawanda were
naturally in favor of the man-of-war, and it was with difficulty that
considerations of prudence restrained the open exhibition of their
delight as the stranger drew near, and the long pendant floating proudly
from her masthead seemed to assure them that their hopes were to be

But disappointment was equally in store for all. The big easy-going ship
proved to be nothing more or less than an ordinary Spanish merchantman,
who, with more regard for personal appearance than maritime etiquette,
had quietly appropriated to herself the distinguishing ornament of a
man-of-war. So the guns of the Alabama, which had been cast loose and
loaded, were again secured, and the crew dismissed from quarters; while
the disconsolate Tonawandas, balked of their fondly anticipated rescue,
shook their fists at the deceptive Spaniard, and went below to digest as
best they might their grievous disappointment.

At last, however, this time of suspense was over, and kind fortune came
to their assistance in the shape of a threatening gale of so ugly an
appearance that the captain determined not to run the risk of parting
company, and thus altogether losing his awkward, but not the less
valuable prize. Accordingly, having accepted from the master a ransom
bond for eighty thousand dollars, he dismissed him to his ship, and amid
the wildest demonstrations of delight from the closely-packed prisoners
on board, the Tonawanda filled away, and was seen no more.

The wind now freshened to a tolerably fresh gale. Not sufficient,
however, for the next two days to prevent the Alabama from chasing and
capturing, on the 15th October, the United States barque Lamplighter, of
Boston, from New York to Gibraltar, with a cargo of tobacco, which,
however, as it proved, was never destined to soothe the _ennui_ of the
British soldier at that not very lively station. The sea was running
high, and the boats had a rough time of it in boarding the barque, and
returning with prisoners, &c. However, it was managed at last; the
unlucky vessel was fired, and after burning fiercely for some time, went
headforemost to the bottom, leaving behind her a savoury cloud that
almost tempted her destroyers to regret their work.

And now it proved indeed fortunate for the prisoners who had so lately
been discharged, that they were not doomed to weather out on the
Alabama's deck the gale that came upon her. The 17th of October saw the
culminating of the bad weather that had prevailed during the last four
or five days, and for some hours the Alabama was exposed to a perfect
hurricane. The storm did not last long, but for about four hours it blew
furiously. It was not yet at its height, and the ship was still carrying
her close reefed maintopsail with reefed main trysail and fore topmast
staysail, when a sharper lurch than usual threw a sudden strain upon the
bumpkin to which the weather main brace was led, and in a moment it had
snapped in two. The mainyard no longer supported by the brace, and
pressed by the whole power of the straining topsail, flew forward and
upward till it was bent nearly double, when with a loud crash it parted
in the slings, splintering the topsail into ribands with a noise like

The ship was now in the greatest peril, for there was no longer
sufficient after canvas to keep her head to the wind against the
powerful pressure of the foretopmast staysail, and in another moment she
must have fallen into the trough of the sea, and probably been at the
least dismasted, if not altogether swamped. But the quick eye of the
captain of the foretop saw the danger, and springing to the staysail
halyards he cut the sail away, and the ship relieved of pressure
forward, again came up to the wind.

The main trysail was now lowered, though not without splitting the sail,
and a small three-cornered storm trysail hoisted in its place. Even
under this minimum of canvas the tremendous pressure of the gale upon
her spars forced her down in the water several streaks, and the idlers
and boys were lashed for safety under the weather bulwarks, life-lines
being stretched before them to prevent them from falling to leeward.

So far as it was possible under the circumstances to estimate the
probable extent of this cyclone, its greatest diameter would appear to
have been from about one hundred and sixty to two hundred miles, whilst
the diameter of the vortex, through a considerable portion of which, if
not actually through the centre, the Alabama appears to have passed,
would probably be from about thirty to five-and-thirty or perhaps forty

The Alabama took the gale at S.W., the wind hauling afterwards to S.,
and the vessel passing completely through the vortex. During that time
it lulled for about half or three-quarters of an hour, then hauled in a
few minutes to about N.N.W., which was the severest portion of the gale,
commencing with the squall by which the mainyard was carried away. The
barometer sank as low as 28.64. At 2 P.M. it had risen to 29.70, but
fell again a little, and then rose gradually. The rise and fall of the
barometer were both very rapid.

During the violence of the gale, the birds flew very low, and with great
rapidity, and some rain fell, though not a great deal. The surface of
the sea was one sheet of foam and spray, the latter completely blinding
all on deck. A curious result of the gale was a huge knot into which a
strip of the maintopsail, the clew line, and chain sheet had twisted
themselves in a hundred involutions, defying any attempt at extrication
except by aid of the knife.

During this tremendous storm the Alabama behaved splendidly, proving
herself as fine a sea-boat as ever swam.

By the evening the storm had lulled, but the sea was still running
fearfully high, and it was not until the next day that it was possible
to set about repairing the damage suffered in this by far the severest
trial through which the Alabama had as yet passed.


_Out of luck--Tempest-tossed--Rotatory storms--A prize--The case of the
Lafayette--A long chase--The Crenshaw--Neutral or not?--Rough again--The
Lauretta--Condemned!--The Baron de Custine--Released on bond._

The Alabama was again out of luck. For the second time since her
departure from Terceira, nearly a fortnight passed without bringing a
single prize. It was, indeed, hardly to be expected that the splendid
success which had attended the first three weeks of her cruise could be
maintained. From the 1st to the 18th of September, she had captured and
destroyed no less than ten vessels, of an aggregate value of nearly two
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Then had followed an interval of a
fortnight, during which one vessel only was overhauled, and proving to
be French, permitted to proceed. This dull period over, the 3rd October
had seen the commencement of another run of good fortune, extending over
nearly a fortnight, during which she succeeded in capturing five more
vessels, all of considerable size, and for the most part with valuable
cargoes. In this fortnight alone damage was inflicted upon United States
property to the amount of more than half-a-million of dollars; and it
was but natural that, after so splendid a gift, fortune should for a
time hold her hand.

Accordingly, for the next ten or twelve days the Alabama lay helplessly
on the ocean, tossed and beaten about by a succession of gales from
every point of the compass, culminating, as we have seen, in the
hurricane of the 16th October. The season was, indeed, most unusually
severe, this month of October being commonly one of calm and fine
weather. A gale at this time is a most unusual occurrence; but for more
than a week a succession of storms was experienced of the most violent
description, while for fully three weeks the weather continued dark,
rough, and gloomy, with strong shifting winds and heavy rain, the thick
clouds rarely separating sufficiently to afford the chance of an

Occasionally a break in the murky canopy would give promise of a change
for the better; but a very few hours served to dissipate the rising
hope. The sky would be again overcast, the wind breeze up from a fresh
quarter, and another night of discomfort set in. In addition to this
adverse weather, a still further difficulty was experienced in the
strong current that appeared to set continuously from the westward,
drifting the vessel bodily out of her course at the rate of sixty or
seventy miles a day. During this period, the barometer ranged from
28.64 to 29.70. It was remarkable that the winds appeared to succeed
each other with perfect regularity, rotating, as nearly as possible,
once in every two days, or at the utmost, in two days and a half. The
course taken by these rotatory storms was always the same, and it was a
rare occurrence for the wind to remain stationary in one quarter during
eight or ten successive hours.

On the 23rd October the gale at last finally broke, and with the return
of better weather the Alabama's luck seemed also about to revive. At
noon a brief break in the clouds just gave time for an observation for
latitude, and this was barely worked out, when "Sail, ho!" was heard
from the masthead; and a fine brig was discovered hull down on the lee
bow. Running down to her under close-reefed topsails, she proved to be
English; but though not destined herself to become a prize, the
deviation in the Alabama's course, occasioned by the chase, proved most
fortunate for her. She had scarcely luffed up again, after ascertaining
the brig's nationality, when again the welcome cry was heard, and the
helm shifted in pursuit. Soon the new chase became clearly discernible
from the quarter-deck, when she proved to be a large ship running to the
northward and eastward under a press of canvas. So determinedly was she
"cracking on" as to have everything set, even to her main-royal,
notwithstanding that the wind was still blowing very nearly half a gale.

The course of the stranger being diagonal to that of the Alabama, the
speed at which she was travelling soon brought her within speaking
distance, and, as usual, a feint was made for the purpose of extorting a
confession of her nationality. The flag chosen this time was the English
blue ensign, and it was speedily answered by the Stars and Stripes,
which fluttered gaily from the merchantman's peak as she dashed along
under her towering mass of canvas before the breeze, right across the
Alabama's path.

Another moment and the scene was changed. The Yankee ensign had hardly
reached her peak, when down came the beguiling signal from the Alabama's
flagstaff, and the white folds of the Confederate ensign unfurled
themselves in its stead. A flash, a spurt of white smoke, curling for a
moment from the cruiser's lee-bow, and vanishing in snowy wreaths upon
the wind, and the loud report of a gun from the Alabama, summoned the
luckless Yankee to heave to. In a moment all was in confusion on board
the merchantman. Sheets and halyards were let go by the run, and the
huge cloud of canvas seemed to shrink and shrivel up as the vessel was
rounded to with folded wings like a crippled bird, and with her
foretopsail to the mast, lay submissively awaiting the commands of her

She proved to be the ship Lafayette, of Boston, bound to Belfast, with a
full cargo of grain, &c. Of her own nationality there was, of course, no
doubt; but a question now arose about the ownership of the cargo, and
some hours of patient investigation were necessary before Captain Semmes
could determine upon the course to pursue. Finally it was determined
that the claim of neutral ownership was a mere blind to insure against
capture; and at 10 P.M., the ship having been formally condemned, the
crew were transferred to the Alabama, and the prize fired and left to
her fate.

The following is Captain Semmes' memorandum of the


Ship and cargo condemned. The cargo of this ship was condemned by me as
enemy's property, notwithstanding there were depositions of the shippers
that it had been purchased by them on neutral account. These _ex-parte_
statements are precisely such as every unscrupulous merchant would
prepare, to deceive his enemy and save his property from capture. There
are two shipping houses in this case; that of Craig and Nicoll, and that
of Montgomery Bros.: Messrs. Craig and Nicoll say that the grain
supplied by them belongs to Messrs. Shaw and Finlay, and to Messrs.
Hamilton, Megault, and Thompson, all of Belfast, to which port the ship
is bound, but the grain is not consigned to them, and they could not
demand possession of it under the bill of lading, it being consigned to
_order_, thus leaving the control in the hands of the shippers. The
shippers, farther, instead of sending their grain as freight in a
general ship, consigned to the owners, they paying the freight, charter
the whole ship, and stipulate themselves for the payment of the freight.
If this property had been _bona fide_ the property of the parties in
Belfast named in the depositions, it would undoubtedly have been
consigned to them, under a bill of lading authorizing them to demand
possession of it, &c., &c.; the agreement with the ship would have been
that the consignees and owners should pay the freight upon delivery.
Even if this property were purchased, as pretended, by Messrs. Craig and
Nicoll, for the parties named, still their not consigning it to them and
delivering to them the proper bill of lading passing the possession,
left the property under the dominion of Craig and Nicoll, and as such,
liable to capture. The property attempted to be covered by the Messrs.
Montgomery, is shipped by Montgomery Bros. of New York, and consigned to
Montgomery Bros., in Belfast; and the title to the property, so far as
appears in the bill of lading, is in the latter house, or in the branch
house in New York. Further, the mere formal papers of a ship and cargo
prove nothing, unless properly verified, and in this case the master of
the ship, although a part owner of the ship, whose duty it was upon
taking in a cargo in time of war, to be informed of all the
circumstances attending it, and connected with the ownership, knew
nothing, except what he learned from the face of the papers. These
certificates, therefore, were pronounced a fraud, and the cargo as well
as the ship, condemned. 3d Phillimore 610-12 to the effect, that if the
goods are going for account of the shipper, _or subject to his order or
control_ (as in this case), the property is not divested _in transitu_.
The goods shipped by Craig and Nicoll, were consigned to their _order_,
as has been seen.

As to the Montgomery's, see 3rd Phillimore 605, to the effect that if a
person be a partner in a house of trade in an enemy's country, he is, as
to the concerns and trade of that house, deemed an enemy, and his share
is liable to confiscation as such, notwithstanding his own residence is
in a neutral country. Further, the property consigned to Montgomery
Bros., even admitting the Belfast house not to be a partner in the New
York house, is liable to the same objection, as in the case of Craig and
Nicoll; since, although the property is described as belonging to a
party in Sligo, there is no bill of lading among the papers authorizing
that party to demand the possession. The property is not divested,
therefore, _in transitu_.

3rd Phillimore, 599, to the effect, that "further proof" is always
necessary when the master cannot swear to the ownership of the property
(as in this case). And as I cannot send my prizes in for adjudication, I
must of necessity condemn in all cases where "further proof" is
necessary, since the granting of "further proof" proceeds on the
presumption that the neutrality of the cargo is not sufficiently
established; and where the neutrality of the property does not fully
appear from the ship's papers and the master's deposition, I had the
right to act upon the presumption of enemy's property.

By midnight the Lafayette showed only a dim glare on the distant
horizon, but the event formed a topic of discussion for the next two
days, more especially as from the newspapers found on board it was
ascertained that news of the captures on the banks of Newfoundland had
already made its way to the United States, and that the Yankee cruisers
were, therefore, probably by that time in full pursuit.

The 26th October, however, provided the crew of the Alabama with a
fresh excitement. The weather had cleared beautifully, the wind was
light from the eastward, and the vessel was gliding smoothly and
swiftly, with studding-sails set alow and aloft, over the long, easy
swell, which alone remained to tell of the heavy gales of the past
fortnight. Every one was enjoying the change, and even the strict
discipline of the man-of-war was, for the moment, in some measure
relaxed, as officers and men gave themselves up to the full pleasure of
a period of sunshine and tranquillity, after the long spell of gloom and
storm. The look-out-man alone, high up on the fore topgallant
crosstrees, still swept the horizon as eagerly as ever in search of a
prize. At about noon his vigilance was rewarded by the sight of a sail
on the port-quarter, and in a moment all was again bustle and excitement
on board. Quick as the word could be given, the "flying kites" were
furled, yards braced in, and the ship hauled up on a taut bowline in

But the stranger was now well to windward, and fully four or five miles
distant. The Alabama flew through the water with the freshening breeze,
flinging the spray over her sharp bows, and stretching to her task as
though she herself were conscious of the work before her, and eager in
chase. But the strange sail was almost, if not quite, as fast as
herself, and her position so far to windward gave her an immense
advantage. The day, too, was wearing on, and the sky beginning to cloud
over, giving every token of a dark if not a stormy night. If the chase
could only hold on her course till dusk she was safe, and already the
hopes of another prize were beginning to fade, and the anxious
speculators on the forecastle were expecting the order to up helm and
relinquish the chase.

On the quarter-deck, too, the idea was gaining ground that the affair
was hopeless, and that it was not worth while to keep the ship longer
from her course. But the Alabama was not given to letting a chance slip,
and before finally abandoning the pursuit it was determined to try the
effect of a shot or two upon the nerves of the stranger. A slight cheer,
quickly checked by the voice of authority, rose from the eager crowd on
the forecastle, as the weather bow gun was cast loose and loaded, and in
another minute the bright flash, with its accompanying jet of white
smoke, leaped from the cruiser's bow, as the loud report of a 32 pounder
rang out the command to heave to.

A moment of breathless suspense, and another cheer rose from the
delighted throng of sailors, as the stranger's sails were seen for a
moment to shiver in the wind, and the frightened chase luffed to the
wind, and then lay motionless with the Stars and Stripes at her
mizenpeak. Another sharp hour's beating and the Alabama was alongside,
and had taken possession of the United States schooner Crenshaw, from
New York to Glasgow, three days out.

And now began another investigation into the character of the cargo, and
notes were once more carefully compared, lest any _bona fide_ neutral
property should become involved in the fate that would otherwise befall
the captured enemy. Finally, however, the case was decided against ship
and cargo, and both were accordingly committed to the flames, the
following entry being made by Captain Semmes of the grounds of his


This vessel was captured under the North American flag, and had on board
a North American register--there is, therefore, no question as to the
ship. There has been an attempt to cover the cargo, but without success.
The shippers are Francis Macdonald and Co., of the city of New York; and
Mr. James Hutchison, also of New York, deposed before the British
consul, that "the goods specified in the annexed bills of lading were
shipped on board the schooner Crenshaw, for, and on account of, subjects
of Her Britannic Majesty, and that the said goods are wholly and _bona
fide_ the property of British subjects." No British subject is named in
the deposition, and no person is therefore entitled to claim under it.
Further: even admitting the goods to have been purchased on British
account, the shipper has not divested himself of the possession by a
proper consignment, under a proper bill of lading. The property is
consigned to the _order of the shipper_, which leaves it entirely under
his control; and it having left the port of New York as his property,
the title cannot be changed while the property is _in transitu_.

As to the first point--to wit, the failure to point out some particular
British owner of the property--see 3d Phillimore 596, to the following
effect:--"If in the ship's papers, property, in a voyage from an enemy's
port, be described 'for neutral account,' this is such a general mode as
points to no designation whatever; and under such a description no
person can say that the cargo belongs to him, or can entitle himself to
the possession of it as his property," &c.

And as to the second point--to wit, the failure on the part of the
shipper to divest himself of the title and control of the property by a
proper bill of lading--see 3rd Phillimore 610-12, as follows, viz.: "In
ordinary shipments of goods, unaffected by the foregoing principles, the
question of proprietary interest often turns on minute circumstances
and distinctions, the general principle being, that if they are going
for account of the shipper, or subject _to his order or control_, the
property is not divested _in transitu"_ &c.

* * * * *

_Monday, October 27th._--Another gale of wind! In the mid-watch last
night the barometer commenced falling, and by 3 this afternoon it had
gone down to 29.33, where it remained stationary for a time, and then
began to rise slowly, being at 29.45 at 8 P.M. The wind began to blow
freshly from the south, and hauled gradually to the westward, the
barometer commencing to rise when the wind was about W.S.W. In the early
part of the gale we had the weather very thick, with heavy squalls of
rain, clearing about nightfall, with the wind from the W.S.W.

In the midst of a heavy squall of wind and rain, and with a heavy sea
on, we discovered a brig close aboard of us, on our weather quarter; but
as we were on opposite tacks we soon increased our distance from each
other. Wore ship, and hove to, under close-reefed topsails on the
starboard tack. Being about a degree to the southward of St. George's
Bank, got a cast of the lead at 7 P.M., with no bottom at eighty-five
fathoms. Lat. 39.47 N., Long. 68.06 W., a little over two hundred miles
from New York.

_Tuesday, October 28th_.--Weather cloudy; wind light from the north,
hauling to the eastward. The heavy sea, from the effects of the gale
yesterday, continued all day rolling and tumbling us about, and keeping
the deck flooded with water. In the morning watch descried a brig
running off to the southward. She being some distance off, and running
in the wrong direction, we did not chase. Soon afterwards another sail
was reported to the westward, standing in our direction; shaped a course
to head her off, and at 11 A.M., having approached her within half a
mile, hoisted the English blue. The stranger showing United States
colours, we hoisted our own, and hove him to with a gun. Brought the
master on board with his papers, and finding the cargo condemnable, got
the crew on board, fired the ship, and filled away.

The prize proved to be the barque Lauretta, of Boston, from New York,
for Madeira and the Mediterranean. Received papers as late as the 24th.
The intelligence of our captures (as late as the Brilliant) seems to
have created great alarm for the safety of commerce in New York.


This ship being under American colours, with an American (U.S.)
register, no question arises as to the ship. There are two shippers of
the cargo, Messrs. Chamberlain, Phelps, and Co., and Mr. H.J. Burden,
both houses of New York city. Chamberlain, Phelps, and Co. ship 1424
barrels of flour, and a lot of pipe staves, to be delivered at Gibraltar
or Messina, to their own order; and 225 kegs of nails to be delivered at
Messina, to Mariano Castarelli. The bill of lading for the flour and
staves has the following indorsement, sworn to before a notary: "State,
city and county of New York: Louis Contenein being duly sworn, says,
that he is a clerk with Chamberlain, Phelps, and Co., and that part of
the maize in the within bill of lading, is the property of subjects of
the King of Italy." This certificate is of no force or effect for its
generality; it points to no one as the owner of the merchandise, and no
person could claim it under the certificate. See 3rd Phillimore, 596.
Farther: the property is consigned to the _order_ of the shipper. The
title, therefore, remains in him, and cannot be divested _in transitu_.
See 3rd Phillimore, 610-12. The contingent destination of this property,
too, shows that it was property for a market. It was to be delivered
either at Gibraltar or Messina, as the shipper might determine--probably
on advices by steamer, before the ship should reach her destination. She
was to stop, as we have seen, at Madeira, which would give ample time
for the decision.

The bill of lading for the 225 kegs of nails has a similar indorsement,
except that it is asserted that the whole of the property belongs to
subjects of the King of Italy. It is not sworn that the property belongs
to Castarelli, the consignee, and for aught that appears, Castarelli is
the agent of the shipper to receive this consignment on his, the
shipper's account. The presumption being, that notwithstanding a
consignment in due form by an enemy shipper to a neutral, the property
is enemy's property, until the contrary be shown. The consignment alone
does not show the property to be vested in Castarelli, and the
certificate does not indicate him as the owner. Although Castarelli
could demand possession of the goods, under this consignment, he could
not claim to hold them as his property under the certificate. There is,
therefore, no evidence to show that he is not the mere agent of the
shipper. What renders this consideration still more clear is, that if
the goods had really belonged to Castarelli, it would have been so
stated in the certificate. Why say that the goods belonged to "subjects
of the King of Italy," when the consignee was the real owner?

The property shipped by H. Jas. Burden consists of 998 barrels of flour
and 290 boxes of herrings, and is consigned to Charles B. Blandly, Esq.,
at Funchal, Madeira. The shipper, H.J. Burden, makes the following
affidavit before the British consul in New York, to wit: "That all and
singular the goods specified in the annexed bill of lading, were shipped
by _H.J. Burden_, in the barque Lauretta, for and on account of _H.J.
Burden_, subject of Her Britannic Majesty." Now, Burden may be a very
good subject of Her Britannic Majesty, but he describes himself as of 42
Beaver Street, New York, and seems to lose sight of the fact, that his
domicile, for the purposes of trade, in the enemy's country, makes him
an enemy, _quoad_ all his transactions in that country. Further: if the
H.J. Burden, the shipper, is not one and the same person with the H.J.
Burden for whom the property is claimed, then there is nothing in the
papers to show that property is vested in the latter, since it is not
consigned to him, nor is it shown that the consignee, Charles B.
Blandly, Esq., is his agent. The presumption, in the absence of proof,
is, that the consignee is the agent of the shipper.

* * * * *

_Wednesday, October 29th._--* * * * At 10 A.M. hove to; let down the
propeller, and put the ship under steam. Chased and overhauled a Dutch
barque, and towards nightfall came up with the United States brigantine,
Baron de Custine, from Bangor, with lumber for Cardenas. The vessel
being old, and of little value, I released her on ransom bond, and
converted her into a cartel, sending some forty-five prisoners on board
of her, the crews of the last three ships burned.


_Disappointment--Out of the track--The Levi Starbuck--Fresh vegetables
--News--The other side of the case--Kindness repaid--The T.B. Wales--A
family--Volunteers--In man-of-war trim_.

The month of October went out as it came in with severe and blustering
weather. The Alabama was still upwards of two hundred miles from New
York, and it seemed as though a change would become necessary in her
plans. Ever since starting upon his adventurous cruise, it had been a
favorite scheme with Captain Semmes to make his appearance off this the
very chief of the enemy's ports, and, if not strong enough actually to
threaten the place itself, at all events to make a few captures within
sight of the capital city of the North. It had been, therefore, a
special disappointment to find himself baffled by a continued succession
of hostile winds and contrary currents; and even the brilliant success
that had thus far attended him in the capture of twenty-one vessels and
the destruction of property to very nearly a million of dollars, seemed
hardly to compensate for the failure of his pet project.

It was fast becoming evident, however, that the scheme for putting in an
appearance off New York must be abandoned, at all events for the
present; and on the 30th October the chief engineer was consulted as to
the amount of coal remaining in the bunkers. The report was unfavorable.
Four days' fuel only was left; and it was clear that even had the vessel
been nearer than she was to her intended cruising ground, this would
have been rather a short supply with which to venture on so dangerous an
experiment. Reluctantly, therefore, the scheme was relinquished, the
fires let down, propeller hoisted up again, and sail made to the
southward and eastward _en route_ for the coal depot.

The ship was now out of the track of commerce, and for some time
scarcely a vessel was seen. The 2d November, however, brought a prize in
the shape of the ship Levi Starbuck, five days out from New Bedford, on
a whaling voyage of thirty months to the Pacific Ocean. Like all
whalers, she carried a stronger crew than is common with other vessels
of similar tonnage, and twenty-nine prisoners were transferred from her
to the Alabama. Being bound, too, on so long a cruise, she was well
furnished with all necessaries, and the captor was enabled to supply
himself from her with various articles of which, by this time, and after
the rough weather he had experienced, he had begun to stand somewhat
sorely in need.

Not the least highly-prized among the spoils of the Levi Starbuck was a
noble collection of cabbages and turnips, fresh from their native soil!
These were, indeed, invaluable. The Alabama had now been upwards of
seventy days at sea, and during nearly the whole of that period her crew
had subsisted entirely on salted provisions. Happily, as yet, no ill
effects had appeared; but the fresh vegetables came most opportunely to
ward off any danger of that scourge of the sailor's existence, scurvy,
to which a longer confinement to salt diet must inevitably have exposed

Indeed, but for the consciousness of how vitally necessary a change of
diet is to the health of a ship's crew, there would have been something
almost ludicrous in the delight with which the men, who for the last six
months had been almost daily destroying thousands of pounds' worth of
the most valuable property of every description, now hailed the
acquisition of a sack or two of turnips and a few strings of humble
cabbages. But abstinence is a wonderful quickener of apprehension; and
for teaching the true value of the good things of this life, there are
few recipes more effectual than a voyage in the forecastle of a cruising

Besides the cabbages and turnips, which were so welcome forward, the
Levi Starbuck contributed not a little to the comfort of the after-part
of the vessel by her contribution of newspapers, which passed eagerly
from hand to hand, through wardroom and steerage, affording a pleasant
change from the worn-out topics of discussion that had now grown
threadbare through the wear-and-tear of many a dull day and stormy
night. The Starbuck's papers brought news from Yankeeland as late as the
28th of October, and not the least important item was that which told of
the excitement occasioned among the enemy by the little craft whose
officers were now jesting merrily over the consternation she had raised,
and the measures that were being taken for her destruction.

It was certainly not a little amusing to read in the angry columns of
Yankee newspapers, the magnificently-exaggerated accounts of the
depredations of the dreaded Confederate "pirate." It was difficult
sometimes to recognise the events referred to under the gorgeous
embellishments with which they were invested. Occasionally, too, an
exclamation of disgust would be heard from some officer, more excited or
less philosophic than his comrades, as with his head half-buried in some
broad, ill-printed, vilely-smelling sheet, he would declaim from its
columns, for the edification of the mess, paragraph after paragraph of
abuse of the vessel and her officers, and withering denunciations of the
barbarity with which their unfortunate prisoners were treated while on
board. Among those who thus revealed their true nature by abusing and
vilifying the men, who, though enemies, had endeavoured while they had
them in their power to alleviate in every possible way the inevitable
hardships of captivity, the master of the ship Brilliant obtained for
himself an unenviable pre-eminence, by the grossness of the falsehoods
with which he retaliated upon his captors for their mistaken kindness;
and many a vow was registered in the wardroom and gun-room of the
Alabama, that should this gentleman ever again fall into their hands,
they would be wiser than to waste courtesy on one who could so little
appreciate it.

The Levi Starbuck having been disposed of in the usual manner, sail was
again made upon the Alabama, and on the 5th November, Bermuda, "the
still vexed," was passed, though at too great a distance to sight the

_Saturday, November 8th._--... In the mid-watch a sail was reported--a
schooner, standing south. Wore ship (1.30 A.M.) and gave chase. Soon
after daylight, the chase being some five miles dead to windward of us,
a ship was discerned standing to the northward and westward.
Discontinued the chase of the schooner, and gave chase to the ship. At
10 A.M., the latter having approached to within a mile of us (we having
United States colours flying), hove her to with a gun, and a change of
flags. Sent a boat, and brought the master on board. She, proved to be
the ship T.B. Wales, of Boston, from Calcutta for Boston. There being no
claim of neutral property among the papers, and the master having no
knowledge on the subject, except that the linseed belonged to the owner
of the ship, condemned both ship and cargo. A large portion of this
cargo was consigned to Baring Brothers, Boston, including 1704 bags of
saltpetre--contraband of war--which would have condemned all the
property of the Barings, even if proof of ownership had been found on
board, which was not the case.

We are to be embarrassed with two females and some children, the master
having his wife with him, and there being also a passenger and his wife.
I shall bestow them upon the wardroom, having a couple of state rooms
vacated for them. Poor women! They are suffering for the sins of their
wicked countrymen who are waging this murderous war upon us.

* * * * *

About nightfall another sail was descried from aloft, and a light was
seen after dark; but we did not get hold of the sail. Just at dark,
having taken all the prisoners on board from the prize, and got her
mainyard on board to replace ours, carried away in, the storm of the
16th ultimo, we set fire to her, and filled away on our course. Nine of
the crew of this ship volunteered, and were shipped as part of our own
crew--an acquisition more valuable than the prize herself.

_Sunday, November 9th._--... My _menage_ has become quite home-like
with the presence of women and the merry voices of children. We have had
a quiet Sabbath-day, there being nothing in sight.

* * * * *

For some time from this date quiet days preponderated. The Alabama was
now in the region of the trade winds, but it was some time before they
were fairly taken. From the 9th November, in Lat. 27.52 N., Long. 58.24
W., to the 15th November, in Lat. 21 N., Long. 57.49 W., the wind
continued light and variable, sometimes even for a few hours blowing
directly from the southward. On the 15th November the N.E. trade
appeared to have fairly set in, and from this time fine weather and
favouring breezes became the order of the day.

* * * * *

_Sunday, November 16th_.--Beautiful clear weather, with a moderate trade
from about east by south. Woollen clothes becoming uncomfortable. At 11
A.M. mustered the crew, and inspected the ship. A quiet Sabbath-day,
with nothing in sight. Our ship begins to look quite like a ship of
war--with her battery in fine order, her decks clean, freshly-painted
outside, masts scraped, &c., &c., and the crew well disciplined. Thus
far I have never seen a better disposed or more orderly crew. They have
come very kindly into the traces.

_Monday, November 17th_.--... Running before the wind, with
studding-sails set on both sides. At 2 P.M. made the island of Dominica,
half a point on the starboard bow.


_Martinique--News from home--Friendly greetings--Mutiny!--Order
restored--The San Jacinto--Neutrality of the port invaded--Prompt
measures--Expectation--Ready for action--Success--Locking an empty
stable--Temptation--The Clara L. Sparks--Refitting--A court-martial

The 18th November saw Captain Semmes again off Martinique, which he had
visited in the Sumter just twelve months before. Making the north end of
the island at about 4 A.M., the propeller was lowered and steam got up,
the day breaking just as the Alabama's screw began to revolve. At 10
A.M., having run past St. Pierre, she anchored in the harbour of Fort de

Here she found her faithful consort, the Agrippina, from whom she had
parted at Terceira on the 24th of August. On her departure from that
port, she had returned with all speed to Cardiff, from which she had
again sailed for the rendezvous at Martinique, and was now ready with a
fresh supply of coal for the Alabama, and had been waiting her arrival
just eight days. In addition to the much needed supply of coal, the
Agrippina brought a small mail for the Alabama's officers, who thus
received news from friends at home for the first time for more than
three months.

No sooner was the anchor down than a lieutenant was sent ashore to pay
the usual visit of ceremony to the Governor, carrying with him a note,
informing his Excellency of the arrival of the Confederate steamer
Alabama in French waters. A few hours brought a courteous reply,
extending to the Alabama the hospitality of the port; and the health
officers having visited the ship, arrangements were made for laying in a
stock of provisions, and such other articles as were required after the
cruise. Nor were the amenities of the Alabama's reception confined to
the authorities alone. An enthusiastic greeting awaited her from almost
every one; the clubs were placed at their disposal, and invitations _a
discretion_ poured in from every side.

It would, perhaps, have been better for the discipline of the Alabama
had the welcome extended to her crew been somewhat less cordial. Weary
of their long confinement, and bent, as the sailor always seems to be on
first putting into port, on a "good spree," a considerable number of her
men fairly succumbed to the hospitality of the worthy islanders, a
result that was not a little aggravated by the exertions of the
deserter, Forrest. This man appears to have entertained a deliberate
purpose of exciting a mutiny on board of the vessel, and with this
object in view, managed to slip overboard unobserved, swam to a boat,
and returned on board with a quantity of spirits, which he distributed
through the forecastle. The result was a disturbance, which at one time
wore a serious aspect, and which, but for the energy and promptitude of
the means taken to subdue it, might have had very awkward results.

The Captain of the Alabama, however, was not a man to be intimidated or
taken off his guard. No sooner was the disturbance reported than the
drums beat to quarters, and the sober portion of the crew were at once
directed to seize the rioters. Placed in double irons, and effectually
drenched with buckets of cold water by their laughing comrades, the
unlucky mutineers soon came to their senses, and order was restored. The
ringleader, Forrest, was then triced up in the mizen-rigging, "two hours
on and two off," to await the punishment of his crimes.

The next day brought a fresh vision of the Stars and Stripes, but this
time from the mizen-peak of a heavily-armed steamer, which appeared
early in the morning, standing in towards the harbour. The Alabama was
at once cleared for action, and, as a precautionary measure, her funds
were despatched on shore for deposit in the event of the engagement
which appeared likely to ensue. This, however, was not to be. The
merchants, thinking evidently that Captain Semmes was in their power,
and must pay their price for taking charge of his treasure, refused to
have anything to do with it at a lower rate than five per cent. To this
the officer in charge would not agree, and the money was again carried
on board. Fortunately, as it turned out, for when the true character of
the stranger came to be ascertained, he proved to be the United States
steamer San Jacinto, of fourteen guns--viz., twelve 68 pounders, and two
eleven-inch shell-guns, and therefore much too heavy for the Alabama to
venture on an attack. This point was but just settled when the merchants
appeared alongside with an abatement in their charges for taking care of
the Confederate treasure; but the chance was gone, and they were
compelled to return as empty-handed as they had come.

Meanwhile, the authorities ashore had been bestirring themselves to
prevent any violation of the neutrality of their port. A boat was
despatched to the San Jacinto with orders either to come to an anchor,
in which case she must remain in the harbour full twenty-four hours
after the departure of the Alabama, or else to proceed again to sea, and
cruise beyond the limits of the maritime league from the harbour. The
latter alternative being preferred by the United States Captain, the San
Jacinto put her helm aport, and came slowly round, returning to the
prescribed distance from the shore, where she proceeded to steam slowly
backwards and forwards, in the hope of intercepting her little enemy,
should the latter venture to leave her anchorage.

Pending this submission on the part of the United States cruiser to the
orders of the Governor, the French gunboat Fata received instructions to
get up steam, and shifting her berth, took up her position close
alongside of the Alabama, fully prepared to offer her own contribution
to any controversy that might arise between the two rival vessels. Her
Captain and officers were very friendly, offering every assistance, and
pointing out on the chart the best means of eluding the enemy, the
superiority of whose size and weight put an end to all idea of a
deliberate attack, though there were still some among the crew of the
Alabama who could not relinquish the hope that in making their way out
of the harbour an engagement might be forced upon them.

All the vigilance of the authorities, however, though extending to the
prohibition of any intercourse whatever between the San Jacinto and the
shore, was unable to prevent the Yankee from establishing a code of
signals by which he might at once be put in possession of any movement
on the part of the Confederate steamer, which he now, no doubt, fully
looked on as his prize. Two of his boats were, as was afterwards
discovered, on the look-out during the night, and an understanding had
been come to with the master of the Yankee vessel lying in the harbour
to signal the Alabama's departure.

By dusk, Captain Semmes' preparations were completed; the funds, which
the Martinique merchants had allowed to slip through their
too-widely-opened fingers, were safely despatched on their way to
Liverpool; the necessary supplies were on board; and, with decks cleared
for action, all lights carefully extinguished, and all hands at
quarters, the Alabama stole quietly from her anchorage, and steamed
cautiously across the harbour on her way to the open sea.

It was a period of intense anxiety as the Alabama slipped silently
through the tranquil water of the harbour, each moment bringing her
nearer to the powerful enemy, who, when dusk had shut him from their
view, had been planted in the very centre of the entrance, eagerly
looking out for the expected prize. Presently it was found that her
movements were, at all events, known to the spies of the enemy, and a
succession of signals from the Yankee vessel they had left at anchor
were evidently intended to warn the San Jacinto of the attempted escape.
Momentarily now was expected the flash of the enemy's gun, and the
hoarse roar of his shot, and each crew stood by its loaded gun ready
with a prompt reply. Not a word was uttered on the crowded deck, and so
deep was the silence, that the low throbbing of the Alabama's propeller,
as it revolved slowly in the water, seemed to strike on the ear with a
noise like thunder. But the minutes passed by and the expected broadside
never came. The straining eyes of the look-outs could see no sign of the
San Jacinto. Either she had misunderstood the signals of her accomplice
on shore, or by some strange fatality they had altogether escaped her;
and the Alabama held on her course unmolested, until, at twenty minutes
past eight, less than an hour after the start, she was considered fairly
out of danger of interception.

The guns were now run in and secured, the word passed to the engineers
to fire up and give her a full head of steam; the men were piped below,
and the Alabama, throwing off the silence in which for the last hour she
had been wrapped fore and aft, darted off merrily over the rippling
waves, in the direction of the island of Blanquilla, at the rate of
fourteen knots an hour. It subsequently transpired that, notwithstanding
all her vigilance and all her pre-arranged signals, the San Jacinto had
been totally unaware of the escape of her agile foe, and actually
remained for four days and four nights carefully keeping guard over the
stable from which the steed had cleverly stolen away.

The morning of the 21st of November found the Alabama off the Hermanas,
and by 1.30 PM. she was in sight of the island of Blanquilla, the
appointed rendezvous of the Agrippina, who had already, about nine
o'clock that morning, been descried on the port bow making all speed
towards her destined anchorage. Here both vessels arrived in the course
of the afternoon; the Alabama, which was a far swifter sailer than her
merchant tender, being the first to drop anchor, and the Agrippina
following her in.

As the two vessels neared the shore, a schooner was discovered at anchor
in the little bay, and on the approach of the strangers she hoisted the
Stars and Stripes. On being overhauled by a boat, despatched for that
purpose from the Alabama, she proved to be the United States whaling
schooner, Clara L. Sparks, of Provincetown; and great was the grief and
astonishment of the unlucky master when the white flag of the
Confederacy was discovered floating at the new comer's peak.

The temptation was great to seize her, and devote her to the flames, but
Captain Semmes was anxious for nothing so much as to avoid all possible
ground of complaint with regard to any infringement of neutrality. It
happened, fortunately for the Clara Sparks, that a few herdsmen from
Venezuela were supporting a miserable existence in the barren island off
which she was anchored, and to make prize of the vessel under these
circumstances, might possibly be construed into a breach of neutral
privilege. In the end, therefore, it was determined not to molest the
whaler; and her master was informed, much to his relief and delight,
that so soon as the Alabama's arrangements were completed, he would be
free to continue his course. Meanwhile, however, it was peremptorily
necessary that he should not be permitted to escape, and reward the
forbearance of his captors by giving her enemy information as to her
whereabout. Orders were therefore given that the master and mate of the
schooner should repair every evening on board the cruiser, remaining
with her till the morning, when they were permitted to return on board,
and resume their avocations.

At 8 A.M. of Saturday, the 27th November, the operation of coaling
commenced, the men working in groups, which were relieved every two
hours, and by nightfall about seventy tons had been got on board. The
wind was fresh enough to raise a slight sea, causing the two vessels to
chafe considerably as they lay closely locked together for the purpose
of transhipping the coal. But notwithstanding the breeze, the day was so
hot as to deter Captain Semmes from visiting the shore, despite the
inevitable longing, after a confinement on board of more than three
months, to find the foot once more planted on solid ground. Some of the
other officers, however, explored the island, which they found a barren
place enough; the three herdsmen, who constitute the entire population
of the country, maintaining themselves after a fashion, by rearing a few
goats. They must, indeed, lead a life of privation, the island producing
scarcely anything; and even the water supply being extremely scanty, and
so brackish as to be hardly fit for human use.

Although to-day is the Sabbath--writes Captain Semmes, in his journal of
the following day--I did not consider it any violation of Christian duty
to continue coaling, as we are liable to be surprised at any moment, and
to have our purpose defeated.

So, too, thought the Alabama's crew, who worked cheerfully on throughout
the day, completing their task by half-past eleven on the Monday
morning. The Alabama had now on board about 285 tons, nearly 200 tons
having been received from the Agrippina. Estimating her consumption at
sixteen tons a day, which would give a moderate rate of steaming, she
had, therefore, in her bunkers fuel for about eighteen days.

This important matter arranged, the next thing to be done was to send
down the mainyard, which had been carried away in the cyclone, and
roughly fished together, and to supply its place with the second new
spar taken from the ship T.B. Wales. This occupied the greater portion
of the 25th, and Captain Semmes then proceeded to "break out" the hold,
for the purpose of taking stock of his provisions, no opportunity having
yet offered, since the hurried shipment of stores off Terceira, to
ascertain the precise amount in hand of salted provisions, and other
necessaries. Batches of liberty-men were also sent on shore to recruit
themselves with a run upon _terra firma_--an amusement in which such of
the officers as could be spared were but too glad to join.

Wednesday, the 26th November, saw all these arrangements completed, and
the last batch of liberty-men safely on board again after their run. The
Alabama was now ready for a fresh cruise, but before taking leave of
Blanquilla, there was an act of justice to be done. Accordingly, that
afternoon a court-martial was summoned for the trial of George Forrest,
the seaman who had originally deserted from the Sumter, and who, on his
recapture, had been sentenced to serve out his time, forfeiting all pay,
prize-money, &c. His present offence was that of endeavouring to incite
the crew to mutiny, and of procuring with that object the liquor with
which the rioters of the 18th November had been made intoxicated.

The case was clearly proved, and after some consultation judgment was
passed, sentencing him to lose all prize-money, and to be dismissed the
ship in disgrace. At a quarter past seven in the evening, all hands were
mustered aft to hear the sentence read; and after a short but effective
address from Captain Semmes, the prisoner was informed that he was now
dismissed the Confederate service with the stain of infamy upon him, and
bundled over the side into the boat that was to convey him to the shore.

This ceremony over, and the ship rid of the incorrigible scoundrel who
had so long disgraced her, the men were dismissed, and preparations made
for the Alabama's departure. She had been already preceded by the
Agrippina, three of whose hands had volunteered in exchange for three
from the steamer, and on the return of the boat no time was lost in
getting her under way. The captain and mate of the Yankee schooner were

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