previous next

[224] in his power to have gone on board the Deerhound, and gained his liberty in the dishonorable manner which others had taken; and again, in his repudiation of the means pursued by those who obtained their liberty in this way, and his deportment while a prisoner having been of the same honorable standard, at the instance of Mr. Adams, Minister of the United States at the Court of St. James, I have paroled the said Wilson, and, feeling a full confidence and trust in his word and honor, I recommend that all privileges that can be given a prisoner of war should be extended to him, believing fully he will never violate any obligation which he pledges himself to fulfil.

John A. Winslow, Captain.

London, July 18, 1864.
my dear sir: Mr. Wilson, one of the persons taken at the time of the action with the Alabama, and now a prisoner on parole in your ship, has called to see me, to ask a word from me to you in favor of giving him his liberty on parole.

I decline to assume any authority with you in regard to the disposition you think proper to make of your prisoners. At the same time, I have reason to suppose that this young gentleman has acted honorably in this business, by recognizing his obligations, and therefore I should regret that he should experience no more liberal treatment in return, than one who disregarded them would deserve.

Under the circumstances, if in your judgment this case, for any reason of the health of the person, or any other good cause, is one in which you can make an exception, having a reliance on the honor of the individual that he will take no improper advantage of it, I will very cheerfully concur in your opinion, and approve your act.

I am, very truly, yours,

Explanatory Report of Captain Winslow.

United States steamer Kearsarge, English Channel, July 30, 1864.
sir: The latter part of the despatch of the department of the eighth instant refers to the parole of the prisoners in these words: “It is reported you have paroled the foreign pirates captured on board the Alabama. I trust you have not committed this error of judgment. They should be held at every sacrifice, and either sent home in the St. Louis, or brought here by yourself.”

I beg the department will consider the circumstances in which this vessel was placed at the termination of the action with the Alabama. The berth-deck, contracted as it is, with insufficient storage for our own men, was covered with bedding of the wounded, the quarter-deck was similarly crowded, and the forward part of the ship, on the spar-deck, was filled with prisoners under guard.

The ship was damaged both in rigging and hull. A shot had entered the stern-post, raising the transom-frame, and binding the rudder so hard as to require four men at the helm. It was therefore important that an examination should be made of the damages sustained. On our arrival at Cherbourg, I received information from our consul at London that the Florida was in the Channel, on the French coast, and at the same time information came that the Yeddo was out, and the Rappahannock was expected to follow; and, in addition to this, that the St. Louis had sailed for Madeira.

The Kearsage had been acting alone and independently for the last nine months, and I was not aware that any of our cruisers had beer ordered in the Channel. It became, therefore, in my mind, of the utmost importance, that the Kearsarge should at once be put in a state to meet these vessels and protect our commerce. This could not be done with prisoners on board, equalling the half of our crew, and the room occupied by the wounded taken to the exclusion of our own men. To have kept them would have required a quarter-watch as guards, and the ship would have been wholly ineffective as a man of war to meet this emergency which threatened.

Under these circumstances, and without an American vessel in port by which any arrangement could be made for trans-shipping the prisoners outside, I felt it my duty to parole them.

A report appeared in the papers that the prisoners were paroled contrary to Mr. Dayton's instructions. This is erroneous. Communication was had with Mr. Dayton on the subject of the officers, and after these the men were paroled.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

John A. Winslow, Captain. Hon. Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. C.

Captain Winslow's detailed Report.

United States steamer Kearsarge, English Channel, July 30, 1864.
sir: In obedience to instructions of the department, I have the honor to make the following supplementary report of the action between the Kearsarge and Alabama:

On the morning of the nineteenth ultimo, the day being fine, with a hazy atmosphere, wind moderate from the westward, with little sea, the position of the Kearsarge at ten o'clock was near the buoy which marks the line of shoals to the eastward of Cherbourg, and distant about three miles from the eastern entrance, which bore to the southward and westward. At twenty minutes after ten o'clock, the Alabama was descried coming out of the western entrance, accompanied by the Couronne, (iron-clad.) I had, in an interview with the Admiral at Cherbourg, assured him that, in the event of an action occurring with the Alabama, the position of the ships should be so far off shore that no questions could be advanced about the line of jurisdiction. Accordingly, to perfect this object, and with the double purpose of drawing the Alabama so far off shore that, if disabled, she could not return, I directed the ship's head seaward, and cleared for action, with the battery pivoted to starboard. Having attained a point about seven miles from the shore, the head of the Kearsarge was turned short

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John A. Winslow (4)
L. M. Dayton (2)
Joseph D. Wilson (1)
Gideon Welles (1)
J. Adams (1)
Charles F. Adams (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 30th, 1864 AD (2)
July 18th, 1864 AD (1)
19th (1)
8th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: