Part 7 out of 8
23 31.39 38.39
24 33.13 36.49
25 35.51 35.41
26 37.43 33.53
27 38.42 32.50
28 39.23 32.31
29 39.51 (D.R.) 32.25
May 30 Lat. 40.25 N. Long. 30.22 W.
31 40.54 27.15
June 1 41.35 24.15
2 42.07 22.15
3 42.18 20.30
4 42.10 18.04
5 41.58 16.31
6 42.31 15.42
7 43.47 14.12
8 45.45 (D.R.) 12.06
9 47.34 9.07
10 49.18 6.03
11 On this day the Alabama entered Cherbourg harbour.
Mr. LAIRD'S SPEECH ON THE ALABAMA.
The following is a full report of Mr. Laird's speech in the
House of Commons on Friday night:--After the discussion that
has taken place about the Alabama, I shall not trouble the
house with many remarks. I can only say, from all I know
and all I have heard, that from the day the vessel was laid down
to her completion everything was open and above-board in this
country. (Cheers.) I also further say that the officers of the
Government had every facility afforded them for inspecting the
ship during the progress of building. When the officers came
to the builders they were shown the ship, and day after day the
customs officers were on board, as they were when she finally
left, and they declared there was nothing wrong. ("Hear,"
from Mr. Bright.) They only left her when the tug left, and
they were obliged to declare that she left Liverpool a perfectly
legitimate transaction. (Hear, hear.) One point has been
overlooked in this discussion. If a ship without guns and without
arms is a dangerous article, surely rifled guns and ammunition
of all sorts are equally--(cheers)--and even more dangerous. (Cheers.)
I have referred to the bills of entry in the custom houses of London
and Liverpool, and I find there have been vast shipments of implements
of war to the Northern States through the celebrated houses of Baring
and Co.--(loud cheers and laughter)--Brown, Shipley and Co., of Liverpool,
and a variety of other names, which I need not more particularly
mention, but whose Northern tendencies are well known to
this house. (Hear, hear.) If the member for Rochdale, or the
honourable member for Bradford, wishes to ascertain the extent
to which the Northern States of America have had supplies of
arms from this country, they have only to go to a gentleman
who, I am sure, will be ready to afford them every information,
and much more readily than he would to me or to any one else
calling upon him--the American consul in Liverpool. Before
that gentleman the manifest of every ship is laid, he has to give
an American pass to each vessel; he is consequently able to
tell the exact number of rifles which have been shipped from this
country for the United States--information, I doubt not, which
would be very generally desired by this house. (Loud cries of
"Hear.") I have obtained from the official custom house returns
some details of the sundries exported from the United Kingdom to the
Northern States of America from the 1st of May, 1861, to the 31st
of December, 1862. There were--muskets, 41,500 (hear, hear); rifles,
341,000 (cheers); gun flints, 26,500; percussion caps, 49,982,000
(cheers and laughter); and swords, 2,250. The best information I could
obtain leads me to believe that from one-third to a half may be added
to these numbers for items which have been shipped to the Northern
States as hardware. (Hear, hear.) I have very good reason
for saying that a vessel of 2,000 tons was chartered six weeks
ago for the express purpose of taking out a cargo of "hardware"
to the United States. (Cheers.) The exportation has not
ceased yet. From the 1st of January to the 17th March, 1863,
the custom bills of entry show that 23,870 gun-barrels, 30,802
rifles, and 3,105,800 percussion caps were shipped to the United
States. (Hear, hear). So that if the Southern States have
got two ships, unarmed, unfit for any purpose of warfare--for
they procured their armaments somewhere else--the Northern
States have been well supplied from this country through the
agency of some most influential persons. (Hear, hear.) Now,
it has been stated--and by way of comparison treated as matter
of complaint--that during the Crimean war the Americans behaved
so well that the honourable member for Bradford and the
member for Birmingham both lauded their action as compared
with that of our own Government. Now, I have heard that a
vessel sailed from the United States to Petropaulovski. (Cries
of "Name.") If honourable members will allow me I will go
on, and first I propose to read an extract from the _Times_, written
by their correspondent at San Francisco, dated the 29th of
"Now, this case of the Alabama illustrates the saying that
a certain class should have a good memory. During the Crimean war,
a man-of-war (called the America, if I remember) was built in America
for the Russian Government, and brought out to the Pacific, filled with
arms and munitions, by an officer in the United States navy. This
gentleman took her to Petropaulovski, where she did service against
the allied squadron, and she is still in the Russian navy. (Cries of 'No,'
and 'Hear, hear.') We made no such childish fuss about this act
of 'hostility' by a friendly Power, which we could not prevent,
as our friends are now making about the Alabama, whose departure
from England our Government could not stop."
The America was commanded by a Lieutenant Hudson, who--if
my information be correct, and I have no doubt that it is--was
then, or had been just previously, a lieutenant in the American
navy; he was the son of a most distinguished officer in the
same service, Captain Hudson. I am further informed that
some doubts having arisen about the character of this ship, the
American men-of-war in the different ports she called at protected
her; and, on her arrival in Russia, the captain who took
her out was, I know, very handsomely rewarded for his services.
(Hear, hear.) Now, I will go a step further about the Northern
States. In 1861, just after the war broke out, a friend of
mine, whom I have known for many years, was over here, and
came to me with a view of getting vessels built in this country
for the American Government--the Northern Government. (Hear, hear.)
Its agents in this country made inquiries; plans and estimates were
given to my friend, and transmitted to the Secretary of the American
Navy. I will read an abstract from this gentleman's letter, dated the
30th of July, 1861. It is written from Washington, and states--
"Since my arrival here I have had frequent interviews with
our 'Department of Naval Affairs,' and am happy to say that
the Minister of the Navy is inclined to have an iron-plated ship
built out of the country. (Hear, hear.) This ship is designed
for a specific purpose, to accomplish a definite object. I send
you herewith a memorandum handed me last evening from the
department, with the request that I would send it to you by
steamer's mail of to-morrow, and to ask your immediate reply,
stating if you will agree to build such a ship as desired, how
soon, and for how much, with such plans and specifications as
you may deem it best to send me."
(Loud cheers.) The extract from the memorandum states
that "the ship is to be finished complete, with guns and everything
appertaining." (Renewed cheering and laughter.) On the 14th of August
I received another letter from the same gentleman, from which the
following is an extract:
"I have this morning a note from the Assistant-Secretary
of the Navy, in which he says, 'I hope your friends will tender
for the two-iron plated steamers.'" (Hear, hear.) After this,
the firm with which I was lately connected, having made contracts
to a large extent with other persons, stated that they were
not in a position to undertake any orders to be done in so short
a time. This was the reply:
"I sent your last letter, received yesterday, to the Secretary
of the Navy, who was very desirous to have you build the iron-plated
or bomb-proof batteries, and I trust that he may yet decide
to have you build one or more of the gunboats."
(Loud cheers.) I think, perhaps, in the present state of the
law in America, I shall not be asked to give the name of my
correspondent (hear), but he is a gentleman of the highest respectability.
If any honourable member wishes, I should have no hesitation in handing
the whole correspondence, with the original letters, into the hands of
you, sir, or the First Minister of the Crown, in strict confidence,
because there are communications in these letters respecting the views
of the American Government which I certainly should not divulge, which
I have not mentioned or alluded to before. But seeing that the American
Government are making so much work about other parties,
whom they charge with violating or evading the law, though in
reality they have not done so, I think it only fair to state those
facts. (Cheers.) As I said before, they are facts. (Hear,
hear.) I do not feel at liberty to state those points to which I
have referred, as being of a confidential character, but, if any
honourable gentleman feels a doubt regarding the accuracy of
what I have stated, I shall feel happy to place the documents in
the hands of the Speaker, or of the First Minister of the Crown,
when he will see that they substantiate much more than I have
stated. (Cheers.) I do not wish to occupy the House longer;
but I must say this, that to talk of freedom in a land like the
Northern States of America is an absurdity. Almost every
detective that can be got hold of in this country is employed.
(Hear, hear.) I believe there are spies in my son's works in
Birkenhead, and in all the great establishments in the country.
A friend of mine had detectives regularly on his track in consequence
of some circumstances connected with his vessels. If that be freedom,
I think we had better remain in the position in which we now are.
(Cheers and laughter.) In conclusion, I will allude to a remark which
was made elsewhere last night--a remark, I presume, applying to me or
to somebody else, which was utterly uncalled for. (Hear.) I have only
to say that I would rather be handed down to posterity as the builder of a
dozen Alabamas than as the man who applies himself deliberately
to set class against class (loud cheers), and to cry up the institutions
of another country, which, when they come to be tested, are of no value
whatever, and which reduce liberty to an utter absurdity. (Cheers.)
THE ENGAGEMENT WITH THE HATTERAS.
_From the Journal of an Officer of the_ ALABAMA.
_Sunday, 11th._--Fine moderate breeze from the eastward.
Read Articles of War. Noon: Eighteen miles from Galveston.
As I write this some are discussing the probability of a fight
before morning. 2.25 P.M.: Light breeze; sail discovered by
the look-out on the bow. Shortly after, three, and at last five,
vessels were seen; two of which were reported to be steamers.
Every one delighted at the prospect of a fight, no doubt whatever
existing as to their being war-vessels--blockaders we supposed.
The watch below came on deck, and of their own accord began preparing
the guns, &c., for action. Those whose watch it was on deck were engaged
in getting the propeller ready for lowering; others were bending a cable
to a kedge and putting it over the bow--the engineers firing up for steam,
officers looking to their side-arms, &c., and discussing the size of
their expected adversary or adversaries. At 2.30 shortened sail
and tacked to the southward. 4 P.M.: A steamer reported
standing out from the fleet toward us. Backed maintopsail and
lowered propeller. 4.50: Every thing reported ready for action.
Chase bearing N.N.E., distant ten miles. Twilight set in about
5.45. Took in all sail. At 6.20 beat up to quarters, manned
the starboard battery, and loaded with five second shell; turned
round, stood for the steamer, having previously made her out to
be a two-masted side-wheel, of apparent 1,200 tons, though at
the distance she was before dark we could not form any correct
estimate of her size, &c.
At 6.30 the strange steamer hailed and asked, "What
steamer is that?" We replied (in order to be certain who he
was), "Her Majesty's ship Petrel! What steamer is that?"
Two or three times we asked the question, until we heard,
"This is the United States steamer----," not hearing the
name. However, United States steamer was sufficient. As no
doubt existed as to her character, we said, at 6.35, that this was
the "Confederate States steamer, Alabama," accompanying the
last syllable of our name with a shell fired over him. The signal
being given, the other guns took up the refrain, and a tremendous
volley from our whole broadside given to him, every shell striking
his side, the shot striking being distinctly heard on board our vessel,
and thus found that she was iron.
The enemy replied, and the action became general. A most
sharp spirited firing was kept up on both sides, our fellows peppering
away as though the action depended on each individual. And so it did.
Pistols and rifles were continually pouring from our quarter-deck
messengers most deadly, the distance during the hottest of the fight
not being more than forty yards! It was a grand, though fearful sight,
to see the guns belching forth, in the darkness of the night, sheets of
living flame, the deadly missiles striking the enemy with a force that
we could _feel_. Then, when the shells struck her sides, especially the
percussion ones, her whole side was lit up, and showing rents of five or
six feet in length. One shot had just struck our smoke-stack, and wounding
one man in the cheek, when the enemy ceased his firing, and
fired a lee gun; then a second, and a third. The order was
given to "Cease firing." This was at 6.52. A tremendous
cheering commenced, and it was not till everybody had cleared
his throat to his own satisfaction, that silence could be obtained.
We then hailed him, and in reply he stated that he had surrendered,
was on fire, and also that he was in a sinking condition. He
then sent a boat on board, and surrendered the U.S. gunboat,
Hatteras, nine guns, Lieutenant-Commander Blake, 140 men.
Boats were immediately lowered and sent to his assistance, when
an alarm was given that another steamer was bearing down for
us. The boats were recalled and hoisted up, when it was found
to be a false alarm. The order was given, and the boatswain
and his mates piped "All hands out boats to save life;" and soon
the prisoners were transferred to our ship--the officers under
guard on the quarter deck, and the men in single irons. The
boats were then hoisted up, the battery run in and secured, and
the main brace spliced. All hands piped down, the enemy's
vessel sunk, and we steaming quietly away by 8.30, all having
been done in less than two hours. In fact, had it not been for
our having the prisoners on board, we would have sworn nothing
unusual had taken place--the watch below quietly sleeping in
their hammocks. The conduct of our men was truly commendable.
No flurry, no noise--all calm and determined. The coolness
displayed by them could not be surpassed by any old veterans--our
chief boatswain's mate apparently in his glory. "Sponge!"--"Load
with cartridge!"--"Shell-fire seconds!"--"Runout!"--"Well,
down compressors!"--"Left, traverse!"--"Well!"--"Ready!"--"Fire!"--"That's
into you!"--"Damn you! that kills your pig!"--"That stops your wind!"
&c., &c., was uttered as each shot was heard to strike with a crash that
nearly deafened you. The other boatswain's mate seemed equally to
enjoy the affair. As he got his gun to bear upon the enemy, he
would take aim, and banging away, would plug her, exclaiming,
as each shot told--"That's from the scum of England!"--"That's
a British pill for you to swallow!" the New York papers
having once stated that our men were the "scum of England."
All other guns were served with equal precision. We were
struck seven times; only one man being hurt during the engagement,
and he only received a flesh-wound in the cheek. One shot
struck under the counter, penetrating as far as a timber, then
glancing off; a second struck the funnel; a third going through
the side across the berth-deck, and into the opposite side; another
raising the deuce in the lamp room; the others lodging in the
coal-bunkers. Taking a shell up and examining it, we found it
filled with sand instead of powder. The enemy's fire was directed
chiefly towards our stern, the shots flying pretty quick over
the quarter-deck, near to where our Captain was standing. As
they came whizzing over him, he, with his usual coolness, would
exclaim--"Give it to the rascals!"--"Aim low, men!"--"Don't
be all night sinking that fellow!" when for all or anything we knew,
she might have been an iron-clad or a ram.
On Commander Blake surrendering his sword, he said that
"it was with deep regret he did it." Captain Semmes smacked
his lips and invited him down to his cabin. On Blake giving his
rank to Captain Semmes, he gave up his state-room for Blake's
special use, the rest of the officers being accommodated according
to their rank in the wardroom and steerages, all having previously
been paroled, the crew being placed on the berth-deck, our
men sleeping anywhere, so that the prisoners might take their
places. Of the enemy's loss we could obtain no correct accounts,
a difference of seventeen being in their number of killed, the
Hatteras having on board men she was going to transfer to other
ships. Their acknowledged loss was only two killed and seven
wounded. A boat had been lowered just before the action to
board us; as we anticipated, and learnt afterwards, it pulled in
for the fleet and reached Galveston. From conversation with
her First-Lieutenant, I learnt that as soon as we gave our name
and our first broadside, the whole after division on board her left
the guns, apparently paralyzed; it was some time before they
recovered themselves. The conduct of one of her officers was
cowardly and disgraceful in the extreme. Some of our shells
went completely through her before exploding, others burst inside
her, and set her on fire in three places. One went through
her engines, completely disabling her; another exploding in her
steam chest, scalding all within reach. Thus was fought, twenty-eight
miles from Galveston, a battle, though small, yet the first
yard-arm action between two steamers at sea. She was only
inferior in weight of metal--her guns being nine in number, viz.,
four thirty-two pounders, two rifled thirty pounders, carrying
60lb. shot (conical), one rifled twenty pounder, and a couple of
small twelve pounders. On account of the conflicting statements
made by her officers, we could never arrive at a correct estimate
of her crew. Our prisoners numbered seventeen officers, one
hundred and one seamen. We further learnt that the Hatteras
was one of seven vessels sent to recapture Galveston, it being
(although unknown to us) in the possession of our troops. We
also found that the flag-ship Brooklyn, twenty-two guns, and the
Oneida, nine guns, sailed in search of us. By their account of
the course they steered they could not fail to have seen us.
THE ALABAMA IN TABLE BAY.
[From the _Cape Argus._]
_August 6th, 1863._
Yesterday, at almost noon, a steamer from the northward
was made down from the signal-post, Lion's-hill. The Governor
had, on the previous day, received a letter from Captain
Semmes, dated Saldanha Bay, informing his Excellency that the
gallant captain had put his ship into Saldanha Bay for repairs.
This letter had been made public in the morning, and had caused
no little excitement. Cape Town, that has been more than
dull--that has been dismal for months, thinking and talking of
nothing but bankruptcies--bankruptcies fraudulent and bankruptcies
unavoidable--was now all astir, full of life and motion.
The stoop of the Commercial Exchange was crowded with merchants,
knots of citizens were collected at the corner of every
street; business was almost, if not altogether suspended. All
that could be gleaned, in addition to the information in Captain
Semmes' letter to the Governor, a copy of which was sent to the
United States Consul immediately it was received, was that the
schooner Atlas had just returned from Malagas Island, where
she had been with water and vegetables for men collecting guanos
there. Captain Boyce, the master of the Atlas, reported that he
had himself actually seen the steamer Alabama; a boat from
the steamer had boarded his vessel, and he had been on board
her. His report of Captain Semmes corroborated that given by
every one else. He said the captain was most courteous and
gentlemanly. He asked Captain Boyce to land thirty prisoners
for him in Table Bay, with which request Captain Boyce was
unable to comply. Captain Semmes said that the Florida was
also a short distance off the Cape, and that the Alabama, when
she had completed her repairs, and was cleaned and painted,
would pay Table Bay a visit. He expected to be there, he said,
very nearly as soon as the Atlas.
Shortly after the Atlas arrived, a boat brought up some of
the prisoners from Saldanha Bay, and amongst them one of the
crew of the Alabama, who said he had left the ship. All these
waited on the United States Consul, but were unable to give
much information beyond what we had already received. The
news that the Alabama was coming into Table Bay, and would
probably arrive about four o'clock this afternoon, added to the
excitement. About noon a steamer from the north-west was
made known by the signal-man on the hill. Could this be the
Alabama? or was it the Hydaspes, from India, or the Lady
Jocelyn, from England? All three were now hourly expected,
and the city was in doubt. Just after one it was made down,
"CONFEDERATE STEAMER ALABAMA, FROM THE N.W., AND FEDERAL BARQUE
FROM THE S.E." Here was to be a capture by the celebrated Confederate
craft, close to the entrance of Table Bay. The inhabitants rushed off
to get a sight. Crowds of people ran up the Lion's-hill, and to the
Kloof-road. All the cabs were chartered--every one of them; there was
no cavilling about fares; the cabs were taken and no questions asked,
but orders were given to drive as hard as possible. The barque
coming in from the south-east, and, as the signal-man made
down, five miles off; the steamer, coming in from the north-west,
eight miles off, led us to think that the Kloof-road was the best
place for a full view. To that place we directed our Jehu to
drive furiously. We did the first mile in a short time; but the
Kloof-hill for the next two and-a-half miles is up-hill work.
The horse jibbed, so we pushed on, on foot, as fast as possible,
and left the cab to come on. When we reached the summit, we
could only make out a steamer on the horizon, from eighteen to
twenty miles off. This could not be the Alabama, unless she
was making off to sea again. There was no barque. As soon
as our cab reached the crown of the hill, we set off at a breakneck
pace down the hill, on past the Roundhouse, till we came
near Brighton, and as we reached the corner, there lay the Alabama
within fifty yards of the unfortunate Yankee. As the Yankee came round
from the south-east, and about five miles from the bay, the steamer
came down upon her. The Yankee was evidently taken by surprise. The
Alabama fired a gun, and brought her to. When first we got sight of the
Alabama, it was difficult to make out what she was doing; the barque's
head had been put about, and the Alabama lay off quite immovable, as if
she were taking a sight at the "varmint!" The weather was
beautifully calm and clear, and the sea was as smooth and transparent
as a sheet of glass. The barque was making her way slowly from the steamer,
with every bit of her canvas spread. The Alabama, with her steam off,
appeared to be letting the barque get clear off. What could this mean?
no one understood. It must be the Alabama. "There," said the spectators,
"is the Confederate flag at her peak; it must be a Federal
barque, too, for there are the Stars and the Stripes of the States
flying at her main." What could the Alabama mean lying there--
"As idly as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean."
What it meant was soon seen. Like a cat watching and playing with a
victimized mouse, Captain Semmes permitted his prize to draw off a few
yards, and he then up steam again, and pounced upon her. She first
sailed round the Yankee from stem to stern, and stern to stem again. The
way that fine, saucy, rakish craft was handled was worth riding a
hundred miles to see. She went round the bark like a toy, making a
complete circle, and leaving an even margin of water between herself and
her prize of not more than twenty yards. From the hill it appeared as if
there were no water at all between the two vessels. This done, she sent
a boat with the prize crew off, took possession in the name of the
Confederate States, and sent the barque off to sea. The Alabama then
made for the port.
We came round the Kloof to visit Captain Semmes on board. As we came we
found the heights overlooking Table Bay covered with people; the road to
Green Point lined with cabs. The windows of the villas at the bottom of
the hill were all thrown up, and ladies waved their handkerchiefs, and
one and all joined in the general enthusiasm; over the quarries, along
the Malay burying-ground, the Gallows Hill, and the beach, there were
masses of people--nothing but a sea of heads as far as the eye could
reach. Along Strand Street and Adderley Street the roofs of all the
houses from which Table Bay is overlooked, were made available as
standing-places for the people who could not get boats to go off to her.
The central, the north, the south, and the coaling jetties, were all
crowded. At the central jetty it was almost impossible to force one's
way through to get a boat. However, all in good time, we did get a boat,
and went off in the midst of dingies, cargo-boats, gigs and wherries,
all as full as they could hold. Nearly all the city was upon the bay;
the rowing clubs in uniform pulled off with favoured members of their
respective clubs on board. The crews feathered their oars in
double-quick time, and their pulling, our "stroke" declared, was "a
caution, and no mistake." Just before getting alongside, we passed
Captain Wilson in the port-boat, who told us that the prize taken was
the Sea Bride, and that there was no difficulty in hearing from Captain
Semmes himself the whole story of the capture. We passed the Federal
barque Urania at her anchorage, and that ship, disregardful of the
privateer, sported all her bunting with becoming pluck. The Stars and
Stripes floated defiantly from her-mizen peak, and her name from her
main. On getting alongside the Alabama, we found about a dozen boats
before us, and we had not been on board five minutes before she was
surrounded by nearly every boat in Table Bay, and as boat after boat
arrived, three hearty cheers were given for Captain Semmes and his
gallant privateer. This, upon the part of a neutral people, is,
perchance, wrong; but we are not arguing a case--we are recording facts.
They did cheer, and cheer with a will, too. It was not, perhaps, taking
the view of either side, Federal or Confederate, but in admiration of
the skill, pluck, and daring of the Alabama, her captain, and her crew,
who now afford a general theme of admiration for the world all over.
Visitors were received by the officers of the ship most courteously, and
without distinction, and the officers conversed freely and unreservedly
of their exploits. There was nothing like brag in their manner of
answering questions put to them. They are as fine and gentlemanly a set
of fellows as ever we saw; most of them young men. The ship has been so
frequently described, that most people know what she is like, as we do
who have seen her. We should have known her to be the Alabama if we had
boarded her in the midst of the ocean, with no one to introduce us to
each other. Her guns alone are worth going off to see, and everything
about her speaks highly for the seamanship and discipline of the
commander and his officers. She has a very large crew, fine,
lithe-looking fellows, the very picture of English men-of-war's men.
The second officer told us that it was the Sea Bride they had captured,
and pointed out her captain, who stood aft conversing with a number of
people who had gathered round him. "This, sir," said the officer, "is
our fifty-sixth capture; we have sent her off with about ten of our men
as a crew, and we left a few of her own men on board of her." We asked
him how he liked Saldanha Bay, and his answer was, "It is a very
charming place. Why did you not build Cape Town there?" Our answer was,
"Because we never do anything properly at the Cape." "Ah, sir!" he said;
"that is a great mistake to leave so fine a bay without harbor
conveniences. It is a great deal better than Table Bay. We enjoyed
ourselves capitally there, had some good shooting; one of us shot an
ostrich, a fine fellow, but he got away. Unfortunately, we lost one of
our officers there--one whom we all respected--as fine an officer as
ever trod this ship's deck. He was in a boat in the bay, shooting wild
fowl; he drew his gun towards him, the barrel in his hand; the trigger
caught, the charge passed through his lung, and his only dying words
were, 'Oh, me!' and he fell back a corpse. But for that circumstance, we
should always remember Saldanha Bay with pleasure. The gun was within an
inch of his breast when it went off."
After this melancholy recital, we walked across to get a little chat
with the prisoner so recently captured. He is a superior man, and spoke
of the loss of his ship in the spirit of a philosopher. He was leaning
against a rail just opposite the cabin. "What can't be cured must be
endured," said he. In answer to our remark, that an hour more would have
saved him, he said, "Yes, it would; I had not the remotest idea of a
capture at this end of the world. I never supposed that she was in this
direction. I was in my cabin, washing," said he, "and my mate came down
and said there was a steamer in sight. 'Capital!' I said; 'it is the
English mail-steamer; I shall be just in time for my letters.' He went
up again, and shortly returning, said, 'She is going to hail us.' 'Hail
us!' I said; 'what the deuce can she want to hail us for?' and I went on
deck. I looked at that (pointing to the Confederate flag), and I soon
saw who we were falling into the hands of. I said, 'Good-bye, mate; we
shall not be long here.' This, sir," he went on to say, "is the second
time I have been captured coming to the Cape. I left New York in the
M.J. Calcon, and was captured by the Florida in 33 deg. West and between 28 deg.
and 29 deg. North. I went home all right, and left New York again on the
28th of May, direct for the Cape." This gentleman's name is Mr. H.
The next we had an opportunity of conversing with was the chief officer.
This gentleman who, by the way, stands six feet four out of his shoes,
showed us round the ship with just pride. He pointed out to us the
peculiar qualities of the magnificent guns. One of Blakeley's rifle
pieces is a terrible-looking weapon. It throws conical shells of a
hundred weight; and he remarked, "When we fought the Hatteras, these
conical shells struck one after the other in capital style; they
exploded with magnificent effect, and lit up her whole broadside." Many
of the captured crew we observed in irons.
We were now introduced to Capt. Semmes, who up to this time had been
engaged in the cabin with Mr. W.J. Anderson, of Anderson, Saxon, and
Co., upon the subject of supplies, which are to be provided by the firm.
We received a very cordial greeting from the gallant gentleman, who
remarked that at Bahia, and indeed everywhere he had been, both his
officers and himself had received very great attention from the English
residents. We had always concluded that Captain Semmes, of the
Powhattan, a fine steamer belonging to the States, to whom we were
introduced some years since by the late Mr. D.M. Huckins, American
Consul, was the captain of the Sumter and Alabama; but we found we were
mistaken, and on remarking this to the captain, he said, "Captain Semmes
of the Powhattan is of the same family as myself--he is, indeed, my
cousin; but he was born in the North, his interests are all there, and
he remains in the Federal service." Having desired us to take a seat, he
said he should be happy to give us any information in his power; he had
no secrets, and bade us take notes if we wished so to do. He then
informed us that he had taken fifteen ships since he left Bahia. We told
him that Captain Bartlett, of the ship Fortuna, stated that on the 2d of
July he saw a ship on fire. Our readers will recollect that the
particulars were given in a paragraph immediately after the Fortuna
arrived. It was as follows:--"On the 2d of July, Captain Bartlett saw
some smoke rising up on the horizon, which he supposed to be the smoke
from a steamer. Later in the day, however, a strong reflection of light
was seen in the sky, and which the captain at once believed to be a ship
on fire. All hands were then called up 'to bout ship,' and they stood
towards the spot from whence the light proceeded. This was about six
o'clock; and at two o'clock on the morning of the 3d July, and in lat.
25 deg. 57' South, and in long. 38 deg. 20' West, the Fortuna ran up within
forty yards of a large vessel of 800 or 1000 tons, which was enveloped
in one mass of flame from stem to stern. Nothing remained of her but her
hull; the whole of her rigging, masts, and decks had already been
consumed. As the Fortuna ran towards the wreck, another vessel--the
Oaks--bound to Calcutta, joined her, and the two vessels spoke one
another. From what Captain Bartlett could make out, the captain of the
Oaks told him that in the evening, about half-past six, an English
man-of-war had passed him, and whilst passing she fired two guns, from
which it was concluded that the crew of the burning vessel had been
rescued by the man-of-war." Captain Semmes said Captain Bartlett was
quite right in supposing that the ship had been set on fire by himself.
She was the Annie F. Schmidt, from New York to San Francisco, with a
general cargo on board; but the supposition of the man-of-war coming to
the rescue of the crew was a mistake. "We set her on fire in the night,"
said Captain Semmes, "and shortly after we had done so, we heard a
couple of guns. We thought it was another Yankee, and we up steam and
fired a gun for her to heave-to. On coming alongside her, we found she
was Her Majesty's frigate Dido. 'We did not take her, sir,' said the
captain, with a laugh; 'in fact, we never attempt to take any of Her
We said we would mention that, and we do, as Captain Semmes's last. "The
Dido people," he went on to say, "asked us if we had set the ship on
fire, and I answered we had, and had got the crew safe on board. 'All
right!' was the answer, and we parted. She was a vessel of about 1000
tons." We asked Captain Semmes if he could give us the names of the
vessels he had captured. He answered that he could. "For," he said, "you
English people won't be neighbourly enough to let me bring my prizes
into your ports, and get them condemned, so that I am obliged to sit
here a court of myself, try every case, and condemn the ships I take.
The European powers, I see, some of them complain of my burning the
ships; but what, if they will preserve such strict neutrality as to keep
me out of their ports, what am I to do with these ships when I take them
but burn them?" He then fetched his record books, and we took the
following down from his lips:--"The ships we have captured were--the
Ocmulgee, of 400 tons, thirty-two men on board; we burned her. The
Alert, a whaler of 700 tons; we burned her. The whaling schooner
Weathergauge; we burned her. The whaling brig Altamaha; we burned her.
The whaling ship Benjamin Tucker; we burned her. The whaling schooner
Courser; we burned her. The whaling barque Virginia; we burned her. The
barque Elisha Dunbar, a whaler; we burned her. The ship Brilliant, with
1000 tons of grain on board; we burned her. The Emily Farnum we captured
and released as a cartel, and having so many prisoners we put some of
them on board her, and sent them off. The Wave Crest, with a general
cargo on board for Europe, we set on fire. The Dunkirk brig, with a
general cargo on board, we burned. The ship Tonawanda we captured, with
a valuable freight on board, and released her, after taking a bond for a
thousand dollars. The ship Manchester, with a cargo of grain, we burned.
The barque Lamplighter, with an assorted cargo for Europe, we burned.
The barque Lafayette, with an assorted cargo, we burned. The schooner
Crenshaw, with an assorted cargo for the West Indies, we burned. The
barque Lauretta, with an assorted cargo on board for Europe, we burned.
The brig Baron de Custine we took a bond for and released. The whaling
ship Levi Starbuck we burned. The T.B. Wales, from Calcutta to Boston,
with a valuable cargo on board, we burned. The barque Martha, from
Calcutta to West Indies, with an assorted cargo, we burned. The schooner
Union we, after boarding, found had some English property on board, and
we released her on bond. The mail steamer Ariel Running between New York
and Aspinwall, we captured. Unfortunately she was going, not returning,
or we should have had a lot of gold. We released her on bond. The United
States gunboat Hatteras, who came out to fight us, had the same number
of guns and crew. Our guns were a little heavier than hers, but we
equalized them by permitting her to fight us at 300 yards. We sunk her
in thirteen minutes by the watch. The barque Golden Rule, with an
assorted cargo, we burned. She belonged to the same company as the
Ariel. The brig Chastelaine we burned. The schooner Palmetto we burned.
The barque Olive Jane we burned. The Golden Eagle, laden with guano, we
burned. The Washington, from the Pacific, with guano, we released on
bond. The Bethia Thayer, from East India, with a valuable cargo on
board, was released on bond. The John A. Parker, with flour and lumber,
from Boston to Buenos Ayres, we burned. The Punjaub, from East India,
we found to have some English cargo on board, we released on bond. The
ship Morning Star we released on bond. The whaling schooner Kingfisher
we burned. The ship Nora, from Liverpool to West Indies, with salt on
board, we burned. The barque Lafayette we burned. The whaling brig Kate
Cory we burned. The whaling barque Nye we burned. The Charles Hall, from
Liverpool, with coal, we burned.
"The ship Louisa Hatch, from Cardiff to West Indies, we burned. The ship
Dorcas Prince, with a general cargo, we burned. The ship Sea Lark, with
a general cargo from the East Indies, we burned. The barque Union Jack,
from Boston to Shanghai, we burned. We captured a Yankee consul on board
of her; he was on his way to Foochin; we landed him at the Brazils. The
ship Gildersliene, from New York to the East Indies, we burned. The
barque Justina we released on bond, to take home prisoners. The ship
Jabez Snow, from New York to the East Indies, we burned. The barque
Amazonian, from Boston to Buenos Ayres, we burned. The ship Talisman,
from New York to the East Indies, we burned. The barque Conrad, fitted
up as a Federal cruiser, a tender to a man-of-war, we captured and
burned. After these came the Anne F. Schmidt, mentioned before, and the
Sea Bride--and the Sea Bride you saw us take to-day. The estimated value
of these captures is 4,200,000 dollars."
The American Consul, Mr. Graham, has handed to his Excellency the
Governor a protest against the capture of the Sea Bride, on the ground
that the vessel was in British waters at the time of her being stopped
by the Alabama. His Excellency told Mr. Graham that the decision of the
case remained purely on evidence, but he would see there was no breach
of neutrality. The Captain of the Sea Bride says he is prepared to show
by bearings that he was within two and a half miles of Robben Island.
CORRESPONDENCE RESPECTING THE TUSCALOOSA.
_Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker to the Secretary to the Admiralty.
August_ 19, 1863.
I beg you will be pleased to acquaint my Lords Commissioners of the
Admiralty with the following particulars relative to the proceedings of
the Confederate States ships of war Alabama, her reported tender
Tuscaloosa, and the Georgia, which have recently arrived at the Cape of
2. On the 28th of July an English schooner arrived in Table Bay, and
reported that on the previous day she had been boarded by the
Confederate steamer Alabama, fifteen miles north-west of Green Point.
After some inquiries the Alabama left her, steering south-east.
3. Upon the receipt of this intelligence I ordered Captain Forsyth, of
the Valorous, to hold himself in readiness to proceed to any of the
ports in this colony where the Alabama might anchor, in order to
preserve the rules of strict neutrality.
4. By a letter addressed to the Governor of this Colony by Captain
Semmes, copy of which was telegraphed to me on the 4th instant, it
appears that the Alabama had proceeded to Saldanha Bay for a few days,
anchoring there on the 29th of July.
5. On the 5th instant I received a private telegram to the effect that
the Alabama was off Table Bay, when I directed the Valorous immediately
to proceed to that anchorage; and shortly afterwards a telegram reached
me from the Governor stating "that the Alabama had captured a vessel
(American), which was in sight, and steering for Table Bay." The
Valorous reached that Bay at 10.15 P.M., where the Alabama had anchored
at 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the same day.
6. Captain Forsyth having informed me that the tender to the Alabama had
been ordered by Captain Semmes to Simon's Bay for provisions, and having
learned that this vessel had been captured off the coast of Brazil, and
not been condemned in any Prize Court, I had doubts as to the legality
of considering her in the light of a tender, being under the impression
that it was a ruse to disguise the real character of the vessel. I
therefore wrote to the Governor to obtain the opinion of the
Attorney-General of the Colony upon this subject, which correspondence
7. On the 8th of August the tender Tuscaloosa, a sailing barque, arrived
in Simon's Bay, and the boarding officer having reported to me that her
original cargo of wool was still on board, I felt that there were
grounds for doubting her real character, and again called the Governor's
attention to this circumstance. My letter and his reply are annexed. And
I would here beg to submit to their Lordships' notice that this power of
a captain of a ship of war to constitute every prize he may take a
"tender," appears to me to be likely to lead to abuse and evasion of the
laws of strict neutrality, by being used as a means for bringing prizes
into neutral ports for disposal of their cargoes, and secret
arrangements--which arrangements, it must be seen, could afterwards be
easily carried out at isolated places.
8. The Alabama, after lying three days in Table Bay, came to this
anchorage to caulk and refit. She arrived here on the 9th, and sailed
again on the 15th instant. Captain Semmes was guarded in his conduct,
and expressed himself as most anxious not to violate the neutrality of
9. I should observe that, from the inclosed copy of a letter from
Captain Forsyth to the Governor, it would appear that the vessel Sea
Bride, taken by the Alabama off Table Bay, was beyond the jurisdiction
of neutral territory.
10. During his passage to this port Captain Semmes chased another
American vessel, the Martha Wentzel, standing in for Table Bay. On my
pointing out to him that he had done so in neutral waters, he assured me
that it was quite unintentional, and, being at a distance from the land,
he did not observe that he had got within three miles of an imaginary
line drawn from the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Hanglip, but on
discovering it he did not detain the vessel. The explanation I
11. The tender Tuscaloosa, having been detained by a strong
south-easter, got under way for the purpose of going to sea on the 14th
instant, but anchored again a little distance from the Roman Rock
lighthouse in consequence of thick fog prevailing.
12. The Alabama did not take in any coal, either here or at Table Bay,
but after being caulked she proceeded to sea on the 15th instant,
followed by the Tuscaloosa. Their destinations are unknown.
13. On the 16th instant, the Confederate States steamer Georgia,
Commander Maury, anchored in this bay. She requires coal, provision, and
caulking. This vessel did not meet the Alabama outside.
14. The Florida, another Confederate States steamer, is reported to be
off this coast, probably cruising to intercept the homeward-bound
American ships from China; indeed, it is with that object these ships
are on this part of the Station.
15. I have learnt, since the departure of the Alabama, and her so-called
tender, that overtures were made by some parties in Cape Town to
purchase the cargo of wool, but, being unsatisfactory, they were not
accepted. It is reported to be Captain Semmes' intention to destroy the
Tuscaloosa at sea.
16. The Alabama is a steamer of about 900 tons, with 8 guns, and 150
men. The Georgia is an iron steamer of about 700 tons, with 5 guns, and
110 men. The Tuscaloosa is a sailing-barque of 500 tons, having 2 small
guns and 10 men.
_Captain Semmes, C.S.N., to Governor Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 1, 1863.
An opportunity is offered me by the coasting schooner Atlas, to
communicate with the Cape, of which I promptly avail myself.
I have the honour to inform your Excellency that I arrived in this bay
on Wednesday morning last, for the purpose of effecting some necessary
repairs. As soon as these repairs can be completed I will proceed to
sea, and in the meantime your Excellency may rest assured that I will
pay the strictest attention to the neutrality of your Government.
_Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker to Governor Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 7,
Captain Forsyth having informed me that the Alabama has a tender outside
captured by Captain Semmes on the coast of America, and commissioned by
one of the Alabama's Lieutenants, and as this vessel has been ordered
into Simon's Bay for provisions, may I request your Excellency will be
good enough to obtain the opinion of the Law Officers whether this
vessel ought still to be looked upon in the light of a prize, she never
having been condemned in a Prize Court; the instructions, copy of which
I inclose, strictly forbidding prizes captured by either of the
contending parties in North America being admitted into our ports.
_Governor Sir P. Wodehouse to Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker, August 8,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency's letter
of yesterday's date, and to inclose the copy of an opinion given by the
Acting Attorney-General to the effect that the vessel to which you refer
ought to be regarded as a tender and not as a prize.
I shall take care to submit this question to Her Majesty's Government by
the next mail, but in the meantime I conclude that your Excellency will
be prepared to act on the opinion of the Attorney-General in respect to
any vessels which may enter these ports in the character of prizes
converted into ships of war by the officers of the navy of the
_Extracts from "Wheaton's Elements of International Law."_
What constitutes a setting forth as a vessel of war has been determined
by the British Courts of Prize, in cases arising under the clause of the
Act of Parliament, which may serve for the interpretation of our own
law, as the provisions are the same in both. Thus it has been settled
that where a ship was originally armed for the Slave Trade, and after
capture an additional number of men were put on board, but there was no
commission of war and no additional arming, it was not a setting forth
as a vessel of war under the Act. But a commission of war is decisive if
there be guns on board; and where the vessel after the capture has been
fitted out as a privateer, it is conclusive against her, although, when
recaptured, she is navigating as a mere merchant-ship; for where the
former character of a captured vessel had been obliterated by her
conversion into a ship of war, the Legislature meant to look no further,
but considered the title of the former owner forever extinguished. Where
it appeared that the vessel had been engaged in a military service of
the enemy, under the direction of his Minister of the Marine, it was
held as a sufficient proof of a setting forth as a vessel of war; so
where the vessel is armed, and is employed in the public military
service of the enemy by those who have competent authority so to employ
it, although it be not regularly commissioned. But the mere employment
in the enemy's military service is not sufficient; but if there be a
fair semblance of authority, in the person directing the vessel to be so
employed, and nothing upon the face of the proceedings to invalidate it,
the Court will presume that he is duly authorized; and the commander of
a single ship may be presumed to be vested with this authority as
commander of a squadron.
_Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker to Governor Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 8,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency's letter
of this day's date, covering the written opinion of the Acting
Attorney-General of this Colony as to the legality of the so-called
tender to the Confederate States armed ship Alabama, and for which I beg
to express my thanks.
The vessel in question, now called the Tuscaloosa, arrived here this
evening, and the boarding officer from my flag-ship obtained the
That she is a barque of 500 tons, with two small rifled 12 pounder guns
and ten men, and was captured by the Alabama on the 21st June last, off
the coast of Brazil: cargo of wool still on board.
The admission of this vessel into port will, I fear, open the door for
numbers of vessels captured under similar circumstances being
denominated tenders, with a view to avoid the prohibition contained in
the Queen's instructions; and I would observe that the vessel Sea Bride
captured by the Alabama off Table Bay a few days since, or all other
prizes, might be in like manner styled tenders, making the prohibition
entirely null and void.
I apprehend that to bring a captured vessel under the denomination of a
vessel of war, she must be fitted for warlike purposes, and not merely
have a few men and two small guns put on board of her (in fact nothing
but a prize crew) in order to disguise her real character as a prize.
Now this vessel has her original cargo of wool still on board, which
cannot be required for warlike purposes, and her armament and the number
of her crew are quite insufficient for any services other than those of
a slight defence.
Viewing all the circumstances of the case, they afford room for the
supposition, that the vessel is styled a "tender" with the object of
avoiding the prohibition against her entrance as a prize into our ports,
where, if the captors wished, arrangements could be made for the
disposal of her valuable cargo, the transhipment of which, your
Excellency will not fail to see, might be readily effected on any part
of the coast beyond the limits of this Colony.
My sole object in calling your Excellency's attention to the case is to
avoid any breach of strict neutrality.
_Governor Sir P. Wodehonse to Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker. August_ 10,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency's letter
of the 8th instant, on which I have consulted the Acting
The information given respecting the actual condition of the Tuscaloosa
is somewhat defective, but referring to the extract from Wheaton
transmitted in my last letter, the Attorney-General is of opinion that
if the vessel received the two guns from the Alabama or other
Confederate vessel of war, or if the person in command of her has a
commission of war, or if she be commanded by an officer of the
Confederate navy, in any of these cases there will be a sufficient
setting forth as a vessel of war to justify her being held to be a ship
of war; if all of these points be decided in the negative, she must be
held to be only a prize, and ordered to leave forthwith.
_Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker to Governor Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 11,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency's
letter, dated yesterday, respecting the Confederate barque Tuscaloosa
now in this bay.
As there are two guns on board, and an officer of the Alabama in charge
of her, the vessel appears to come within the meaning of the cases cited
in your above-mentioned communication.
_Governor Sir P. Wodehouse to the Duke of Newcastle. August_ 19, 1863.
I beg to take this opportunity of making your Grace acquainted with what
has occurred here in connection with the visit of the Confederate States
On Tuesday, the 4th instant, I received a letter from the Commander of
that vessel, dated the 1st August at Saldanha Bay, announcing his having
entered that bay with a view to effecting certain repairs, and stating
that he would put to sea as soon as they were completed, and would
strictly respect our neutrality.
When this intelligence was received, the United States Consul called on
me to seize her, or at any rate to send her away instantly; but as the
vessel which brought the news reported that the Alabama was coming
immediately to Table Bay, I replied that I could not seize her, but
would take care to enforce the observance of the neutral regulations.
On the next day, about noon, it was reported from the signal station
that the Alabama was steering for Table Bay from the north, and that a
Federal barque was coming in from the westward; and soon after, that the
latter had been captured and put about. A little after 2 P.M. the United
States Consul called to state that he had seen the capture effected
within British waters; when I told him he must make his statement in
writing, and an investigation should be made. I also, by telegram,
immediately requested the Naval Commander-in-Chief to send a ship of war
from Simon's Bay. The Alabama, leaving her prize outside, anchored in
the bay 3.30 P.M., when Captain Semmes wrote to me that he wanted
supplies and repairs, as well as permission to land thirty-three
prisoners. After communicating with the United States Consul, I
authorized the latter, and called upon him to state the nature and
extent of his wants, that I might be enabled to judge of the time he
ought to remain in the port. The same afternoon he promised to send the
next morning a list of the stores needed, and announced his intention of
proceeding with all despatch to Simon's Bay to effect his repairs there.
The next morning (August 6th) the Paymaster called on me with the
merchant who was to furnish the supplies, and I granted him leave to
stay till noon of the 7th.
On the night of the 5th, Her Majesty's ship Valorous had come round from
Simon's Bay. During the night of the 6th the weather became
unfavourable; a vessel was wrecked in the bay, and a heavy sea prevented
the Alabama from receiving her supplies by the time arranged. On the
morning of the 8th, Captain Forsyth, of the Valorous, and the Port
Captain, by my desire, pressed on Captain Semmes the necessity for his
leaving the port without any unnecessary delay; when he pleaded the
continued heavy sea and the absence of his cooking apparatus, which had
been sent on shore for repairs, and had not been returned by the
tradesman at the time appointed, and intimated his own anxiety to get
away. Between 6 and 7 A.M., on Sunday, the 9th, he sailed, and on his
way round to Simon's Bay captured another vessel; but on finding that
she was in neutral waters he immediately released her.
In the meantime, the United States Consul had, on the 5th August,
addressed to me a written statement that the Federal barque Sea Bride
had been taken "about four miles from the nearest land," and "already in
British waters;" on which I promised immediate inquiry. The next day the
Consul repeated his protest, supporting it by an affidavit of the master
of the prize, which he held to show that she had been taken about two
miles and a half from the land; and the agent for the United States
underwriters, on the same day, made a similar protest. On the 7th, the
Consul represented that the prize had, on the previous day, been brought
within one mile and a half of the lighthouse, which he considered as
much a violation of the neutrality as if she had been there captured,
and asked me to have the prize crew taken out and replaced by one from
the Valorous, which I declined.
I had, during this period, been seeking for authentic information as to
the real circumstances of the capture, more particularly with reference
to the actual distance from the shore, and obtained through the Acting
Attorney-General statements from the keeper of the Green Point
Lighthouse (this was supported by the Collector of Customs), from the
signal-man at the station at the Lion's Rump, and from an experienced
boatman who was passing between the shore and the vessels at the time.
Captain Forsyth, of the Valorous, also made inquiries of the captain of
the Alabama and of the Port Captain, and made known the result to me.
And upon all these statements I came to the conclusion that the vessels
were not less than four miles distant from land; and on the 8th I
communicated to the United States Consul that the capture could not, in
my opinion, be held to be illegal by reason of the place at which it was
In his reply of the 10th, the Consul endeavoured to show how
indefensible my decision must be, if, in these days of improved
artillery, I rested it on the fact of the vessels having been only three
miles from land. This passage is, I think, of considerable importance,
as involving an indirect admission that they were not within three miles
at the time of capture. And I hope your Grace will concur in my view
that it was not my duty to go beyond what I found to be the distance
clearly established by past decisions under international law.
An important question has arisen in connection with the Alabama, on
which it is very desirable that I should, as soon as practicable, be
made acquainted with the views of Her Majesty's Government. Captain
Semmes had mentioned after his arrival in port, that he had left outside
one of his prizes previously taken, the Tuscaloosa, which he had
equipped and fitted as a tender, and had ordered to meet him in Simon's
Bay, as she also stood in need of supplies. When this became known to
the naval commander-in-chief, he requested me to furnish him with a
legal opinion; and whether this vessel could he held to be a ship of war
before she had been formally condemned in a prize court; or whether she
must not be held to be still a prize, and, as such, prohibited from
entering our ports. The Acting Attorney-General, founding his opinion on
Earl Russell's despatch to your Grace, of the 31st January, 1862, and on
"Wheaton's International Law," states in substance that it was open to
Captain Semmes to convert this vessel into a ship of war, and that she
ought to be admitted into our ports on that footing.
On the 8th August the vessel entered Simon's Bay, and the Admiral wrote
that she had two small rifled guns, with a crew of ten men, and that her
cargo of wool was still on board. He was still doubtful of the propriety
of admitting her.
On the 10th August, after further consultation with the Acting
Attorney-General, I informed Sir Baldwin Walker that, if the guns had
been put on board by the Alabama, or if she had a commission of war, or
if she were commanded by an officer of the Confederate Navy, there must
be held to be a sufficient setting forth as a vessel of war to justify
her admission into port in that character.
The Admiral replied in the affirmative on the first and last points, and
she was admitted.
The Tuscaloosa sailed from Simon's Bay on the morning of the 14th
instant, but was becalmed in the vicinity until the following day, when
she sailed about noon. The Alabama left before noon on the 15th instant.
Neither of these vessels was allowed to remain in port longer than was
really necessary for the completion of their repairs.
On the 16th, at noon, the Georgia, another Confederate war steamer,
arrived at Simon's Bay in need of repairs, and is still there.
Before closing this despatch I wish particularly to request instructions
on a point touched on in the letter from the United States Consul of the
17th instant, viz.: the steps which should be taken here in the event of
the cargo of any vessel captured by one of the belligerents being taken
out of the prize at sea, and brought into one of our ports in a British
or other neutral vessel.
Both belligerents are strictly interdicted from bringing their prizes
into British ports by Earl Russell's letter to the Lords of the
Admiralty of the 1st June, 1861, and I conceive that a colonial
government would be justified in enforcing compliance with that order by
any means at its command, and by the exercise of force if it should be
But that letter refers only to "prizes;" that is, I conceive, to ships
themselves, and makes no mention of the cargoes they may contain.
Practically the prohibition has been taken to extend to the cargoes; and
I gathered, from a conversation with Captain Semmes on the subject of
our neutrality regulations, that he considered himself debarred from
disposing of them, and was thus driven to the destruction of all that he
took. But I confess that I am unable to discover by what legal means I
could prevent the introduction into our ports of captured property
purchased at sea, and tendered for entry at the custom-house in the
usual form from a neutral ship. I have consulted the Acting
Attorney-General on the subject, and he is not prepared to state that
the customs authorities would be justified in making a seizure under
such circumstances; and therefore, as there is great probability of
clandestine attempts being made to introduce cargoes of this
description, I shall be glad to be favoured with the earliest
practicable intimation of the views of Her Majesty's Government on the
_Captain Semmes, C.S.N., to Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 5, 1863.
I have the honour to inform your Excellency of my arrival in this bay,
in the Confederate States steamer Alabama under my command. I have come
in for supplies and repairs, and in the meantime I respectfully ask
leave to land in Cape Town thirty-three prisoners, lately captured by me
on board two of the enemy's ships destroyed at sea. The United States
Consul will doubtless be glad to extend such hospitality and assistance
to his distressed countrymen, as required of him by law.
_Sir P. Wodehouse to Captain Semmes, C.S.N. August_ 5, 1863.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter announcing
your arrival in this port, and to state that I have no objection to
offer to your landing the prisoners now detained in your ship.
I have further to beg that you will be good enough to state the nature
and extent of the supplies and repairs you require, that I may be
enabled to form some estimate of the time for which it will be necessary
for you to remain in this port.
_Captain Semmes, C.S.N., to Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 5, 1863.
I have had the honour to receive your letter of this day's date, giving
me permission to land my prisoners, and requesting me to state the
nature of the supplies and repairs which I may require. In the way of
supplies I shall need some provisions for my crew, a list of which will
be handed you to-morrow by the paymaster, and as for repairs my boilers
need some iron work to be done, and my bends require caulking, being
quite open. I propose to take on board the necessary materials here, and
to proceed with all despatch to Simon's Bay for the purpose of making
_Mr. Adamson to Captain Semmes C.S.N. August_ 6, 1863.
I am directed by the Governor of this colony to acquaint you that he
has received from the Consul for the United States at this port a
representation, in which he sets forth that an American barque was
yesterday captured by the ship which you command, in British waters, in
violation of the neutrality of the British Government, and claims from
him redress for the alleged outrage.
His Excellency will be glad, therefore, to receive from you any
explanation you may wish to give as to the circumstances in which the
capture was effected.
_Captain Semmes, C.S.N., to Mr. Adamson. Cape Town, August_ 6, 1863.
I have had the honour to receive your communication of this day's date,
informing me that the United States Consul at this port had presented to
his Excellency the Governor a representation in which he sets forth that
an American barque was yesterday captured by this ship under my command
in British waters, in violation of the neutrality of the British
Government, and requesting me to make to his Excellency such
representation as I may have to offer on the subject.
In reply, I have the honour to state that it is not true that the barque
referred to was captured in British waters, and in violation of British
neutrality; she having been captured outside all headlands, and a
distance from the nearest land of between five and six miles. As I
approached this vessel I called the particular attention of my officers
to the question of distance, and they all agreed that the capture was
made from two to three miles outside the marine league.
_U.S. Consul to Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 4, 1863.
From reliable information received by me, and which you are also
doubtless in possession of, a war steamer called the Alabama is now in
Saldanha Bay, being painted, discharging prisoners of war, &c.
The vessel in question was built in England to prey upon the commerce of
the United States of America, and escaped therefrom while on her trial
trip, forfeiting bonds of L20,000, which the British Government exacted
under the Foreign Enlistment Act.
Now, as your Government has a treaty of amity and commerce with the
United States, and has not recognised the persons in revolt against the
United States as a Government at all, the vessel alluded to should be at
once seized and sent to England, from whence she clandestinely escaped.
Assuming that the British Government was sincere in exacting the bonds,
you have doubtless been instructed to send her home to England, where
she belongs. But if, from some oversight, you have not received such
instructions, and you decline the responsibility of making the seizure,
I would most respectfully protest against the vessel remaining in any
port of the colony another day. She has been at Saldanha Bay four [six]
days already, and a week previously on the coast, and has forfeited all
right to remain an hour longer by this breach of neutrality. Painting a
ship does not come under the head of "necessary repairs," and is no
proof that she is unseaworthy; and to allow her to visit other ports
after she has set the Queen's proclamation of neutrality at defiance
would not be regarded as in accordance with the spirit and purpose of
_Mr. Adamson to U.S. Consul. August 5,_ 1863.
I am directed by the Governor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter
of yesterday's date relative to the Alabama.
His Excellency has no instructions, neither has he any authority, to
seize or detain that vessel; and he desires me to acquaint you that he
has received a letter from the Commander, dated the 1st instant, stating
that repairs were in progress, and as soon as they were completed he
intended to go to sea. He further announces his intention of respecting
strictly the neutrality of the British Government.
The course which Captain Semmes here proposes to take is, in the
Governor's opinion, in conformity with the instructions he has himself
received relative to ships of war and privateers belonging to the United
States and the States calling themselves the Confederate States of
America visiting British ports.
The reports received from Saldanha Bay induce the Governor to believe
that the vessel will leave that harbour as soon as her repairs are
completed; but he will immediately, on receiving intelligence to the
contrary, take the necessary steps for enforcing the observance of the
rules laid down by Her Majesty's Government.
_Mr. Graham (U.S. Consul) to Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 5, 1863.
The Confederate steamer Alabama has just captured an American barque off
Green Point, or about four miles from the nearest land (Robben Island).
I witnessed the capture with my own eyes, as did hundreds of others at
the same time. This occurrence at the entrance of Table Bay, and clearly
in British waters, is an insult to England and a grievous injury to a
friendly Power, the United States.
Towards the Government of my country and her domestic enemies the
Government of England assumes a position of neutrality; and if the
neutrality can be infringed with impunity, in this bold and daring
manner, the Government of the United States will no doubt consider the
matter as one requiring immediate explanation.
Believing that the occurrence was without your knowledge or expectation,
and hoping you will take such steps to redress the outrage as the
exigency requires, I am, &c.
_Mr. Rawson to Mr. Graham. August_ 6, 1863.
I am directed by the Governor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter
of yesterday's date respecting the capture of the Sea Bride by the
Alabama, and to acquaint you that he will lose no time in obtaining
accurate information as to the circumstances of the capture. I have,
(Signed) RAWSON W. RAWSON,
_Mr. Graham to Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 6, 1863.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of this
I beg now to enclose for your Excellency's perusal, the affidavit of
Captain Charles F. White, of the Sea Bride, protesting against the
capture of the said barque in British waters. The bearings taken by him
at the time of capture conclusively show that she was in neutral waters,
being about two and a half miles from Robben Island. This statement is
doubtless more satisfactory than the testimony of persons who measured
the distance by the eye.
I believe that there is no law defining the word "coast" other than
international law. That law has always limited neutral waters to the
fighting distance from land, which, upon the invention of gunpowder, was
extended to a distance of three nautical miles from land on a straight
coast, and by the same rule, since the invention of Armstrong rifled
cannon, to at least six miles.
But all waters inclosed by a line drawn between two promontories or
headlands are recognised by all nations as neutral, and England was the
first that adopted the rule, calling such waters the "King's chambers."
By referring to "Wheaton's Digest," page 234, or any other good work on
international law, you will find the above rules laid down and
The fact that the prize has not already been burned, and that her fate
is still in suspense, is clear proof that Captain Semmes had misgivings
as to the legality of the capture, and awaits your Excellency's assent.
If you decide that the prize was legally taken, you will assume a
responsibility which Captain Semmes himself declined to take.
_Affidavit of C.F. White._
On this 6th day of August, A.D. 1863, personally appeared before me,
Walter Graham, Consul of the United States at Cape Town, Charles F.
White, master of the barque Sea Bride, of Boston, from New York, and
declared on affidavit that on the 3d day of August instant, he sighted
Table Mountain and made for Table Bay, but that on the 4th instant,
night coming on, he was compelled to stand out. On the 5th instant, he
again made for the anchorage, and about two P.M. saw a steamer standing
toward the barque, which he supposed was the English mail steamer, but
on nearing her, found her to be the Confederate steamer Alabama. He,
Captain White, was peremptorily ordered to heave his vessel to as a
prize to the Alabama. One gun was fired, and immediately after the
demand was made another gun was fired. Two boats were lowered from the
Alabama and sent on board the barque. The officer in charge of these
boats demanded the ship's papers, which the said master was compelled to
take on board the said steamer. This happened about a quarter before
three o'clock. He and his crew were immediately taken from his vessel
and placed as prisoners on board the Alabama, the officers and crew
being put in irons. The position of the barque at the time of capture
was as follows:--Green Point Lighthouse bearing south by east; Robben
Island Lighthouse north-east.
The said appearer did further protest against the illegal capture of
said vessel, as she was in British waters at the time of capture,
according to bearings.
_Mr. Graham to Sir P. Wodehouse. August 7, 1863_.
Understanding from your letter of this date, received this morning,
that the case of the Sea Bride is still pending, I enclose the
affidavits of the first officer of that vessel and the cook and steward,
which I hope will throw additional light on the subject.
[Footnote 17: A formal acknowledgment omitted here as superfluous.]
From the affidavit of the first officer, it appears that the alleged
prize was brought within one and a half miles of Green Point Lighthouse
yesterday at one o'clock P.M. Now, as the vessel was at that time in
charge of a prize crew, it was a violation of neutrality as much as if
the capture had been made at the same distance from land.
Pending your decision of the case I would most respectfully suggest that
the prize crew on board the Sea Bride be removed, and that the vessel be
put in charge of a crew from Her Majesty's ship Valorous.
_Affidavit of James Robertson._
On the day and date hereof before me, Walter Graham, Consul for the
United States of America at Cape Town, personally came and appeared
James Robertson, cook and steward of the barque Sea Bride, an American
vessel, and made affidavit that he was on board said barque on the night
of the 5th day of August instant, after the said barque had been
captured as a prize by the Confederate steamer Alabama, and a prize crew
put on board. That at about five minutes before two o'clock A.M. of the
6th instant, the prize crew on board the said barque received a signal
from the Alabama aforesaid to burn the said barque, and immediately all
hands were called to execute that order. That the sails were clewed, a
tar barrel taken from underneath the topgallant forecastle and placed in
the forecastle, and a bucketful of tar, with other combustibles and
ammunition, ordered on the cabin table, but that when these arrangements
were completed, another signal was received from the said Alabama,
countermanding the order to burn the said prize, and to stand off and on
the land until daylight, which orders were obeyed.
_Affidavit of John Schofield._
On the day and date hereof before me, Walter Graham, Consul for the
United States of America at Cape Town, personally came and appeared
John Schofield, first officer of the barque Sea Bride, of Boston, who
made affidavit that he was on board of said vessel at one o'clock P.M.
yesterday, the 6th day of August instant, while she was in possession of
a prize crew of the steamer Alabama; that he took the bearings of said
barque at that time, which were as follows: Robben Island Lighthouse
bore north-east by north one-half north, Green Point Lighthouse bore
south-west one-half west.
He also deposed that the officer in command of the barque came on deck
about that time, and stamping his foot as if chagrined to find her so
near the land, ordered her further off, which was done immediately.
I am directed by the Governor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter
of this date, inclosing two affidavits relative to the Sea Bride, and to
state that his Excellency is not prepared to admit that the fact of that
vessel having been brought by the prize crew within one and a half miles
of the Green Point Lighthouse "was a violation of the neutrality as much
as if the capture had taken place at the same distance from land,"
although both the belligerents are prohibited from bringing their prizes
into British ports.
The Governor does not feel warranted in taking steps for the removal of
the prize crew from the Sea Bride.
_Mr. Bawson to Mr. Graham. August_ 8, 1863.
With reference to the correspondence that has passed relative to the
capture by the Confederate States steamer Alabama, of the barque Sea
Bride, I am directed by the Governor to acquaint you that, on the best
information he has been enabled to procure, he has come to the
conclusion that the capture cannot be held to be illegal, or in
violation of the neutrality of the British Government, by reason of the
distance from land at which it took place.
His Excellency will, by next mail, make a full report of the case to Her
_Mr. Graham to Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 10, 1863.
Your decision in the case of the Sea Bride was duly received at four
o'clock p. M. on Saturday. In communicating that decision you simply
announce that the vessel was, in your opinion, and according to evidence
before you, a legal prize to the Alabama; but you omit to state the
principle of international law that governed your decision, and neglect
to furnish me with the evidence relied upon by you.
Under these circumstances I can neither have the evidence verified or
rebutted here, nor am I enabled to transmit it as it stands to the
American Minister at London, nor to the United States Government at
Washington. An invitation to be present when the _ex parte_ testimony
was taken was not extended to me, and I am therefore ignorant of the
tenor of it, and cannot distinguish the portion thrown out from that
which was accepted. If your decision is that the neutral waters of this
colony only extend a distance of three miles from land, the character of
that decision would have been aptly illustrated to the people of Cape
Town had an American war-vessel appeared on the scene, and engaged the
Alabama in battle. In such a contest with cannon carrying a distance of
six miles (three overland), the crashing buildings in Cape Town would
have been an excellent commentary on your decision.
But the decision has been made, and cannot be revoked here, so that
further comment at present is, therefore, unnecessary. It can only be
reversed by the Government you represent, which it probably will be when
the United States Government shall claim indemnity for the owners of the
An armed vessel named the Tuscaloosa, claiming to act under the
authority of the so-called Confederate States, entered Simon's Bay on
Saturday the 8th instant. That vessel was formerly owned by citizens of
the United States, and while engaged in lawful commerce was captured as
a prize by the Alabama. She was subsequently fitted out with arms by the
Alabama to prey upon the commerce of the United States, and now, without
having been condemned as a prize by any Admiralty Court of any
recognized Government, she is permitted to enter a neutral port in
violation of the Queen's Proclamation, with her original cargo on board.
Against this proceeding I hereby most emphatically protest, and I claim
that the vessel ought to be given up to her lawful owners. The capture
of the Sea Bride in neutral waters, together with the case of the
Tuscaloosa, also a prize, constitute the latest and best illustration of
British neutrality that has yet been given.
_Mr. Rawson to Mr. Graham. August_ 10, 1863.
I am directed by the Governor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter
of this date, and to state with reference to that part of it which
relates to the Tuscaloosa, that his Excellency is still in
correspondence with the Commander-in-chief respecting the character of
that vessel, and the privileges to which she is entitled.
_Mr. Graham to Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 12, 1863.
Upon receiving your last communication to me dated the 10th instant, I
deemed it simply a report of progress on one subject treated of in my
last letter to your Excellency, and I have therefore waited anxiously
for the receipt of another letter from the Colonial Secretary
communicating the final result in the case. Failing to receive it, and
hearing yesterday P.M. that the Tuscaloosa would proceed to Sea from
Simon's Bay to-day, I applied for an injunction from the Supreme Court
to prevent the vessel sailing before I had an opportunity of showing by
witnesses that she is owned in Philadelphia in the United States, and
her true name is Conrad; that she has never been condemned as a prize by
any legally constituted Admiralty Court; and that I am _ex officio_ the
legal agent of the owners, underwriters, and all others concerned. I
have not yet learned the result of that application, and fearing that
delay may allow her to escape, I would respectfully urge you to detain
her in port until the proper legal steps can be taken.
I am well aware that your Government has conceded to the so-called
Confederate States the rights of belligerents, and is thereby bound to
respect Captain Semmes' commission; but having refused to recognize the
"Confederacy" as a nation, and having excluded his captures from all the
ports of the British Empire, the captures necessarily revert to their
real owners, and are forfeited by Captain Semmes as soon as they enter a
Hoping to receive an answer to this and the preceding letter as early as
possible, and that you will not construe my persistent course throughout
this correspondence on neutral rights as importunate, or my remarks as
inopportune, I have, &c.
_Mr. Rawson to Mr. Graham. August 12, 1863_.
I am directed by the Governor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter
of this date, and to acquaint you that it was not until late last
evening that his Excellency received from the naval Commander-in-chief
information that the condition of the Tuscaloosa was such as, as his
Excellency is advised, to entitle her to be regarded as a vessel of war.
The Governor is not aware, nor do you refer him to the provisions of
international law by which captured vessels, as soon as they enter our
neutral ports, revert to their real owners, and are forfeited by their
captors. But his Excellency believes that the claims of contending
parties to vessels captured can only be determined in the first instance
by the Courts of the captor's country.
The Governor desires me to add that he cannot offer any objection to the
tenor of the correspondence which you have addressed to him on this
subject, and that he is very sensible of the courtesy you have exhibited
under such very peculiar circumstances!!! He gives you credit for acting
on a strict sense of duty to your country.
_Mr. Graham to Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 17, 1863.
I have delayed acknowledging the receipt of your last letter, dated the
12th August, on account of events transpiring, but which have not yet
culminated so as to form the subject of correspondence.
Your decision that the Tuscaloosa is a vessel of war, and by inference a
prize, astonishes me, because I do not see the necessary
incompatibility. Four guns were taken from on board the Talisman (also a
prize), and put on board the Conrad (Tuscaloosa), but that transfer did
not change the character of either vessel as a prize, for neither of
them could cease to be a prize till it had been condemned in an
Admiralty Court of the captor's country, which it is not pretended has
been done. The Tuscaloosa, therefore, being a prize, was forbidden to
enter Simon's Bay by the Queen's Proclamation, and should have been
ordered off at once; but she was not so ordered. Granting that Her
Majesty's Proclamation affirmed the right of Captain Semmes as a
belligerent to take and to hold prizes on the high seas, it just as
emphatically denied his right to hold them in British ports. Now, if he
could not hold them in Simon's Bay, who else could hold them except
those whose right to hold them was antecedent to his--that is, the,
The Tuscaloosa remained in Simon's Bay seven days with her original
cargo of skins and wool on board. This cargo, I am informed by those who
claim to know, has been purchased by merchants in Cape Town; and if it
should be landed here directly from the prize, or be transferred to
other vessels at some secluded harbour on the coast beyond this Colony,
and brought from thence here, the infringement of neutrality will be so
palpable and flagrant that Her Majesty's Government will probably
satisfy the claims of the owners gracefully and at once, and thus remove
all cause of complaint. In so doing it will have to disavow and
repudiate the acts of its executive agents here--a result I have done
all in my power to prevent.
Greater cause of complaint will exist if the cargo of the Sea Bride is
disposed of in the same manner, as I have reason to apprehend it will be
when negotiations are concluded; for being originally captured in
neutral waters, the thin guise of neutrality would be utterly torn into
shreds by the sale of her cargo here.
The Georgia, a Confederate war-steamer, arrived at Simon's Bay
yesterday, and the Florida, another vessel of the same class, has
arrived, or is expected hourly at Saldanha Bay, where she may remain a
week without your knowledge, as the place is very secluded. The Alabama
remained here in Table Bay nearly four days, and at Simon's Bay six
days; and as the Tuscaloosa was allowed to remain at Simon's Bay seven
days, I apprehend that the Georgia and Florida will meet with the same
or even greater favours. Under such circumstances further protests from
me would seem to be unavailing, and I only put the facts upon record for
the benefit of my Government and officials possessed of diplomatic
_Mr. Rawson to Mr. Graham. August_ 19, 1863.
I am directed by the Governor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter
of the 17th instant, and to state that he has, during the recent
transactions, endeavoured to act in strict conformity with the wishes of
Her Majesty's Government; he will in like manner pursue the same course
in any future cases which may arise.
I am to add that His Excellency has no reason to believe that either the
Alabama or the Tuscaloosa have been allowed to remain in the ports of
the Colony for a greater length of time than the state of the weather,
and the execution of the repairs of which they actually stood in need,
_Statement of Joseph Hopson._
Joseph Hopson, keeper of the Green Point Lighthouse, states:
I was on the look-out on Wednesday afternoon when the Alabama and Sea
Bride were coming in. When I first saw them the steamer was coming round
the north-west of Robben Island, and the barque bore from or about five
miles west-northwest. The barque was coming in under all sail with a
good breeze, and she took nothing in when the gun was fired. I believe
two guns were fired, but the gun I mean was the last, and the steamer
then crossed the stern side of the barque, and hauled up to her on the
starboard side. He steamed ahead gently, and shortly afterwards I saw
the barque put round with her head to the westward, and a boat put off
from the steamer and boarded her. Both vessels were then good five miles
off the mainland, and quite five, if not six, from the north-west point
of Robben Island.
_Statement of W.S. Field, Collector of Customs._
I was present at the old Lighthouse, Green Point, on Wednesday
afternoon, at 2 P.M., and saw the Alabama capture the American barque
Sea Bride, and I agree with the above statement as far as the position
of the vessels and their distance from shore.
I may also remark that I called the attention of Colonel Bisset and the
lighthouse keeper Hopson to the distance of the vessels at the time of
the capture, as it was probable we should be called upon to give our
evidence respecting the affair, and we took a note of the time it
_Statement of John Roe._
I was yesterday, the 5th day of August, 1863, returning from a whale
chase in Hunt's Bay, when I first saw the barque Sea Bride standing from
the westward on to the land. I came on to Table Bay, and when off Camps
Bay I saw the smoke of the Alabama some distance from the westward of
Robben Island. When I reached the Green Point Lighthouse the steamer was
standing up towards the barque, which was about five miles and a half to
the westward of Green Point, and about four and half from the western
point of Robben Island. This was their position (being near each other
at the time) when the gun was fired.
_Statement of Signalman at the Lion's Rump Telegraph Station._
On Wednesday last, the 5th day of August, 1863, I sighted the barque Sea
Bride about seven o'clock in the morning, about fifteen or twenty miles
off the land, standing into Table Bay from the south-west. There was a
light breeze blowing from the north-west, which continued until after
midday. About midday I sighted the Alabama screw steamer standing from
due north towards Table Bay, intending, as it appeared to me, to take
the passage between Robben Island and the Blueberg Beach. She was then
between fifteen and eighteen miles off the land.
After sighting the steamer, I hoisted the demand for the barque, when
she hoisted the American flag, which I reported to the Port Office, the
barque then being about eight miles off the land from Irville Point. No
sooner had the barque hoisted the American flag than the steamer turned
sharp round in the direction of and towards the barque. The steamer
appeared at that time to have been about twelve miles off the land from
Irville Point, and about four or five miles outside of Robben Island,
and about seven miles from the barque.
The steamer then came up to and alongside of the barque, when the latter
was good four miles off the land at or near the old Lighthouse, and five
miles off the Island. The steamer, after firing a gun, stopped the
further progress of the barque, several boats were sent to her, and
after that the barque stood out to sea again, and the Alabama steamed
into Table Bay.
_Captain Forsyth to Sir P. Wodehouse. August_ 6, 1863.
In compliance with the request conveyed to me by your Excellency, I have
the honor to report that I have obtained from Captain Semmes a statement
of the positions of the Confederate States steamer Alabama and the
American barque Sea Bride, when the latter was captured yesterday
Captain Semmes asserts that at the time of his capturing the Sea Bride,
Green Point Lighthouse bore from the Alabama south-east about six or six
and a half miles.
This statement is borne out by the evidence of Captain Wilson, Port
Captain of Table Bay, who has assured me that at the time of the Sea
Bride being captured, he was off Green Point in the port boat, and that
only the top of the Alabama's hull was visible.
I am of opinion, if Captain Wilson could only see that portion of the
hull of the Alabama, she must have been about the distance from the
shore which is stated by Captain Semmes, and I have therefore come to
the conclusion that the barque Sea Bride was beyond the limits assigned
when she was captured by the Alabama.
_Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker to the Secretary to the Admiralty.
September_ 17, 1863.
With reference to my letters dated respectively the 19th and 31st
ultimo, relative to the Confederate States ship of war Alabama, and the
prizes captured by her, I beg to inclose, for their Lordships'
information, the copy of a statement forwarded to me by the Collector of
Customs at Cape Town, wherein it is represented that the Tuscaloosa and
Sea Bride had visited Ichaboe, which is a dependency of this Colony.
2. Since the receipt of the above-mentioned document, the Alabama
arrived at this anchorage (the 16th instant), and when Captain Semmes
waited on me, I acquainted him with the report, requesting he would
inform me if it was true. I was glad to learn from him that it was not
so. He frankly explained that the prize Sea Bride in the first place had
put into Saldanha Bay through stress of weather, and on being joined
there by the Tuscaloosa, both vessels proceeded to Angra Pequena, on the
West Coast of Africa, where he subsequently joined them in the Alabama,
and there sold the Sea Bride and her cargo to an English subject who
resides at Cape Town. The Tuscaloosa had landed some wool at Angra
Pequena and received ballast, but, he states, is still in commission as
a tender. It will, therefore, be seen how erroneous is the accompanying
report. I have no reason to doubt Captain Semmes' explanation; but he
seems to be fully alive to the instructions of Her Majesty's Government,
and appears to be most anxious not to commit any breach of neutrality.
3. The Alabama has returned to this port for coal, some provisions, and
to repair her condensing apparatus.
4. From conversation with Captain Semmes, I find that he has been off
this Cape for the last five days, and as the Vanderbilt left this on the
night of the 11th instant, it is surprising they did not see each other.
_The Duke of Newcastle to Sir P. Wodehouse. November 4, 1863_.
I have received your despatch of the 19th August last, submitting for my
consideration various questions arising out of the proceedings at the
Cape of Good Hope of the Confederate vessels Georgia, Alabama, and her
reputed tender, the Tuscaloosa.
I will now proceed to convey to you the views of Her Majesty's
Government on these questions.
The capture of the Sea Bride, by the Alabama, is stated to have been
effected beyond the distance of three miles from the shore--which
distance must be accepted as the limit of territorial jurisdiction,
according to the present rule of international law upon that subject. It
appears, however, that the prize, very soon after her capture, was
brought within the distance of two miles from the shore; and as this is
contrary to Her Majesty's orders, it might have afforded just grounds
(if the apology of Captain Semmes for this improper act, which he
ascribed to inadvertence, had not been accepted by you) for the
interference of the colonial authorities upon the principles which I am
about to explain.
With respect to the Alabama herself, it is clear that neither you nor
any other authority at the Cape could exercise any jurisdiction over
her; and that, whatever may have been her previous history, you were
bound to treat her as a ship of war belonging to a belligerent Power.
With regard to the vessel called the Tuscaloosa, I am advised that this
vessel did not lose the character of a prize captured by the Alabama,
merely because she was, at the time of her being brought within British
waters, armed with two small rifled guns, in charge of an officer, and
manned with a crew of ten men from the Alabama, and used as a tender to
that vessel under the authority of Captain Semmes.
It would appear that the Tuscaloosa is a barque of 500 tons, captured by
the Alabama, off the coast of Brazil, on the 21st of June last, and
brought into Simon's Bay on or before the 7th of August, with her
original cargo of wool (itself, as well as the vessel, prize) still on
board, and with nothing to give her a warlike character (so far as is
stated in the papers before me), except the circumstances already
Whether, in the case of a vessel duly commissioned as a ship of war,
after being made prize by a belligerent Government, without being first
brought _infra praesidia_, or condemned by a court of prize, the
character of prize, within the meaning of Her Majesty's orders, would or
would not be merged in that of a national ship of war, I am not called
upon to explain. It is enough to say that the citation from Mr.
Wheaton's book by your attorney-general does not appear to me to have
any direct bearing upon the question.
Connected with this subject is the question as to the cargoes of
captured vessels, which is alluded to at the end of your despatch. On
this point I have to instruct you that Her Majesty's orders apply as
much to prize cargoes of every kind which may be brought by any armed
ships or privateers of either belligerent into British waters as to the
captured vessels themselves. They do not, however, apply to any articles
which may have formed part of any such cargoes, if brought within
British jurisdiction, not by armed ships or privateers of either
belligerent, but by other persons who may have acquired or may claim
property in them by reason of any dealings with the captors.
I think it right to observe that the third reason alleged by the
attorney-general for his opinion assumes (though the fact had not been
made the subject of any inquiry) that "no means existed for determining
whether the ship had or had not been judicially condemned in a court of
competent jurisdiction," and the proposition that, "_admitting her to
have been captured by a ship of war of the Confederate States_, she was
entitled to refer Her Majesty's Government, in case of any dispute, to
the court of her States in order to satisfy it as to her real
character." This assumption, however, is not consistent with Her
Majesty's undoubted right to determine within her own territory whether
her own orders, made in vindication of her own neutrality, have been
violated or not.
The question remains what course ought to have been taken by the
authorities of the Cape--
1st. In order to ascertain whether this vessel was, as alleged by the
United States Consul, an uncondemned prize brought within British waters
in violation of Her Majesty's neutrality; and
2dly. What ought to have been done if such had appeared to be really the
I think that the allegations of the United States Consul ought to have
been brought to the knowledge of Captain Semmes while the Tuscaloosa
was still within British waters, and that he should have been requested
to state whether he did or did not admit the facts to be as alleged. He
should also have been called upon (unless the facts were admitted) to
produce the Tuscaloosa's papers. If the result of these inquiries had
been to prove that the vessel was really an uncondemned prize, brought
into British waters in violation of Her Majesty's orders made for the
purpose of maintaining her neutrality, I consider that the mode of
proceeding in such circumstances, most consistent with Her Majesty's
dignity, and most proper for the vindication of her territorial rights,
would have been to prohibit the exercise of any further control over the
Tuscaloosa by the captors, and to retain that vessel under Her Majesty's
control and jurisdiction until properly reclaimed by her original
_Sir P. Wodehouse to the Duke of Newcastle. December_ 19, 1863.
I have had the honour to receive your Grace's despatch of the 4th
ultimo, from which I regret to learn that the course taken here relative
to the Confederate war steamer Alabama and her prizes has not in some
respects given satisfaction to Her Majesty's Government.
I must only beg your Grace to believe that no pains were spared by the
late Acting Attorney-General or by myself to shape our course in what we
believed to be conformity with the orders of Her Majesty's Government
and the rules of international law, as far as we could ascertain and
Mr. Denyssen has been so constantly engaged with professional business
since the arrival of the mail that I have been prevented from discussing
with him the contents of your despatch; but I think it right,
nevertheless, to take advantage of the first opportunity for
representing to your Grace the state of uncertainty in which I am placed
by the receipt of this communication, and for soliciting such further
explanations as may prevent my again falling into error on these
matters. In so doing I trust you will be prepared to make allowance for
the difficulties which must arise out of this peculiar contest, in
respect of which both parties stand on a footing of equality as
belligerents, while only one of them is recognized as a nation.
In the first place, I infer that I have given cause for dissatisfaction
in not having more actively resented the fact that the Sea Bride, on the
day after her capture, was brought a short distance within British
Your Grace demurs to my having accepted Captain Semmes' apology for this
improper act, which he ascribed to inadvertence. You will pardon my
noticing that the fact of the act having been done through inadvertence
was established by the United States Consul himself, one of whose
witnesses stated, "the officer in command of the barque came on deck
about that time, and stamping his foot as if chagrined to find her so
near the land, ordered her further off, which was done immediately."
I confess that on such evidence of such a fact I did not consider myself
warranted in requiring the commander of Her Majesty's ship Valorous to
take possession of the Alabama's prize.
The questions involved in the treatment of the Tuscaloosa are far more
important and more embarrassing; and first let me state, with reference
to the suggestion that Captain Semmes should have been required to admit
or deny the allegations of the United States Consul, that no such
proceeding was required. There was not the slightest mystery or
concealment of the circumstances under which the Tuscaloosa had come
into, and then was in possession of the Confederates. The facts were not
disputed. We were required to declare what was her actual status under
those facts. We had recourse to Wheaton, the best authority on
International Law within our reach--an authority of the nation with whom
the question had arisen--an authority which the British Secretary for
Foreign Affairs had recently been quoting in debates on American
questions in the House of Lords.
Your Grace intimates that the citation from this authority by the Acting
Attorney-General does not appear to have any direct bearing upon the
You will assuredly believe that it is not from any want of respect for
your opinion, but solely from a desire to avoid future error, that I
confess my inability to understand this intimation, or, in the absence
of instructions on that head, to see in what direction I am to look for
the law bearing on the subject.
The paragraph cited made no distinction between a vessel with cargo and
a vessel without cargo; and your Grace leaves me in ignorance whether
her character would have been changed if Captain Semmes had got rid of
the cargo before claiming for her admission as a ship of war. Certainly,
acts had been done by him which, according to Wheaton, constituted a
"setting forth as a vessel of war."
Your Grace likewise states, "Whether in the case of a vessel duly
commissioned as a ship of war, after being made prize by a belligerent
Government without being first brought _infra praesidia_, or condemned
by a Court of Prize, the character of prize, within the meaning of Her
Majesty's orders, would or would not be merged in a national ship of
war, I am not called upon to explain."
I feel myself forced to ask for further advice on this point, on which
it is quite possible I may be called upon to take an active part. I have
already, in error apparently, admitted a Confederate prize as a ship of
war. The chief authority on International Law, in which it is in my
power to refer, is Wheaton, who apparently draws no distinction between
ships of war and other ships when found in the position of prizes; and I
wish your Grace to be aware that within the last few days the commander
of a United States ship of war observed to me that if it were his good
fortune to capture the Alabama, he should convert her into a Federal
I trust your Grace will see how desirable it is that I should be fully
informed of the views of Her Majesty's Government on these points, and
that I shall be favoured with a reply to this despatch at your earliest
_Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker to the Secretary to the Admiralty. January_
I request you will be pleased to acquaint my Lords Commissioners of the
Admiralty that the barque called the Tuscaloosa, under the flag of the
Confederate States of North America (referred to in my letter of the
19th of August last), termed a tender to the Alabama, returned to this
anchorage on the 26th ultimo from cruising off the coast of Brazil.
2. In order to ascertain the real character of this vessel, I directed
the boarding officer from my flag-ship to put the questions, as per
inclosure No. 1, to the officer in command, Lieutenant Low, of the
Alabama; and having satisfied myself from his answers that the vessel
was still an uncondemned prize captured by the Alabama under the name of
the Conrad, of Philadelphia, I communicated the circumstances to the
Governor of this Colony, who, concurring in opinion with me that she
ought to be retained under Her Majesty's control and jurisdiction until
reclaimed by her proper owners, for violation of Pier Majesty's orders
for the maintenance of her neutrality, I caused the so-called
Tuscaloosa to be taken possession of; informing Lieutenant Low, at the
same time, of the reason for doing so.
3. Lieutenant Low has entered a written protest against the seizure of
the vessel, a copy of which, together with the reply of the Governor, I
inclose for their Lordships' information, as well as a copy of all the
correspondence which has passed on this subject.
4. Lieutenant Low having informed me that he expects the Alabama shortly
to arrive at this place, I have allowed him and his crew to remain on
board the Conrad for the present; but should the Alabama not make her
appearance I have acquainted him that I will grant him and his officers
(probably only one besides himself) a passage to England in one of the
packets. The crew he wishes to discharge if there is no opportunity of
their rejoining the Alabama.
5. The vessel in question is at present moored in this bay, in charge of
an officer and a few men belonging to Her Majesty's ship Narcissus,
where she will remain until she can be properly transferred to her
lawful owners, as requested by the Governor.
_Questions to be put to the Officer in Command or Charge of the barque
Tuscaloosa, carrying the Flag of the so-called Confederate States of
Ship's name and nation?--Tuscaloosa. Confederate.
Name and rank of officer in command?--Lieutenant Low, late Alabama.
Tonnage of the ship?--500.
Number of officers and men on hoard?--4 officers and 20 men.
Number and description of guns on board?--3 small brass guns, 2 rifled
12 pounders, 1 smooth-bore-pounder.
Where is she from?--St. Katherine's, Brazils.
Where is she bound?--Cruising.
For what purpose has the ship put into this port?--For repairs and
Is it the same ship that was captured by the Alabama, and afterwards
came to this port on the 9th of August last?--Yes.
What was her original name, on being captured by the Alabama?--Conrad,
When was she captured by Alabama?--21st June, 1863.
To what nation and to whom did she belong before her capture?--Federal
States of America.
Has she been taken before any legally constituted Admiralty Court of the
Has she been duly condemned as a lawful prize by such Court to the
What is she now designated?--Tender to the Alabama.
What papers are there on board to constitute her as the Confederate
barque Tuscaloosa?--The commission of the Lieutenant commanding the
Tuscaloosa from Captain Semmes. The officers also have commissions to
their ship from him.
Are the papers which belonged to her before she was seized by the
Alabama on board?--No.
Is there any cargo on board, and what does it consist of?--No
cargo--only stores for ballast.
(Signed) JOHN LOW,
_Lieut.-Commander, Confederate States barque Tuscaloosa._
(Signed) FRANCIS L. WOOD,
_Lieutenant and Boarding Officer, Her Majesty's ship Narcissus._
_Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker to Lieutenant Low, C.S.N. December_ 27,
As it appears that the Tuscaloosa, under your charge and command, is a
vessel belonging to the Federal States of America, having been captured
by the Confederate States ship of war Alabama, and not having been
adjudicated before any competent Prize Court, is still an uncondemned
prize, which you have brought into this port in violation of Her
Britannic Majesty's orders for the maintenance of her neutrality, I have
the honour to inform you that, in consequence, I am compelled to detain
the so-called Tuscaloosa (late Conrad) with a view of her being restored
to her original owners, and I request you will be so good as to transfer
the charge of the vessel to the officer bearing this letter to you.
_Rear-Admiral Sir B. Walker to Sir P. Wodehouse. December_ 28, 1863.
I have the honour to inform your Excellency that, acting upon your