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Admiral David D. Porter, The Naval History of the Civil War., Chapter 7: the Trent affair. (search)
o Europe as commissioners from the Confederate Government to the Courts of England and France; the other two were Messrs. Eustis and McFarland, attaches to the commissioners. The Trent was one of a line of British steamers which ran regularly between Vera Cruz and Havana, thence to St. Thomas, and from there to England. The company had a contract with the British Government to carry the mails, and its steamers had ample accommodations for the passenger travel between England and the West Indies. The Trent left the port of Havana on the morning of the 7th of November, under the command of Captain Moir. Nothing of interest occurred until about noon of the 8th, when, in the narrow passage of the Old Bahama Channel, opposite the Panador Grande light, from the Trent was seen a steamer ahead, apparently waiting and showing no colors. The Trent at this time was on her legitimate voyage; she had touched at no port in the Southern Confederacy, and had held no communication with
Admiral David D. Porter, The Naval History of the Civil War., Chapter 38: review of the work done by the Navy in the year 1863. (search)
r it could be found. As soon as the existence of these Confederate cruisers was known to the Secretary of the Navy, ships were sent in pursuit. While in the West Indies, the Confederate cruisers were protected whenever they were able to escape into a neutral port --an opportunity which was offered on every hand — or get within uasi vessels-of-war, threw every obstacle in the way of Federal cruisers obtaining supplies of coal and provisions. Not only that, the neutrals all through the West Indies furnished the commanding officers of the Confederate cruisers (by means of the mail-steamers plying between the different ports) with information of the intendee imagined, under such circumstances as these, how difficult it would be for a United States vessel-of-war to capture one of these sea-rovers, especially in the West Indies. The islanders, not satisfied with transmitting information to the Confederates, in some cases assumed an intimacy with the commanders of United States vessels
Admiral David D. Porter, The Naval History of the Civil War., Chapter 45: the cruise of the Sumter and the havoc she committed. (search)
d received his pay, ready to pounce upon them and take them back again for another fee. Nothing could better please that sort of man than this game of semi-piracy. Probably he was a descendant of some of those pirates who infested the Spanish West Indies in 1824-26, murdering the crews of American merchant vessels, plundering their cargoes, and then destroying the vessels. Semmes was determined not to lay himself liable for violating any neutrality laws; he was too conscientious for that. ast had heard of the Sumter's escape and had taken a new route homeward consequently. Semmes gained little by cruising between the parallels of 2°.30′ and 9.30′ North and the Meridians 41°.30′ and 47°.30′ West. So he made his way back to the West Indies, while the Powhatan about the same time followed in his track. On the 24th of October, the Sumter captured the schooner Daniel Trowbridge, of New Haven, loaded with everything a cruiser could desire, her deck even being filled with live
Admiral David D. Porter, The Naval History of the Civil War., chapter 48 (search)
would have been instructed to arrest them on the high seas, or in any English port, for a violation of the Foreign Enlistinent Act. But this was not attempted, and the English Navy, in their scrupulous care to be neutral, almost deserted the West Indies, leaving the Confederate agents to carry on their operations for the future destruction of American commerce at their discretion. The work of getting the guns on board the Oreto had been so severe in that burning climate that it produced sif the British Foreign Enlistment Act, but no one can doubt that these rough and devil-may-care-looking fellows were ready for any adventure that promised plunder or profit; they were the same kind of men that accompanied Morgan all through the West Indies, across the Isthmus, and even to the gates of Panama. But to perform these functions for the christening of the 290, it was necessary to be careful that no neutral law should be violated. Not for anything in the world would Semmes and his
Admiral David D. Porter, The Naval History of the Civil War., chapter 51 (search)
e way which for a time impeded the progress of his plans. In the first place, Mr. Welles attached too much importance to the blockade of the Southern ports and listened too much to the clamors of commanders of squadrons for more vessels on their stations; for inferior-built steamers could have performed that duty as well as the sea-going corvettes. Then, his plans were interfered with by Commodore Wilkes, who not only had a squadron of twelve vessels with which he patrolled the Gulf and West Indies, but also seized upon the fastest cruisers the Secretary of the Navy had sent on special duty to go in pursuit of the Confederates, and detained the vessels belonging to the neighboring stations and attached them to his squadron. In one instance, at least, there was a chance of capturing the Alabama, which had touched at all the ports where her pursuer followed her, but the latter was just a month too late. Though the Navy Department may have been at fault in its judgment in not sending