that this scourge of the Federal navy came out of Cherbourg. It is not in our power to say why Captain Semmes, who has gained so much glory and so unquestionable a reputation for courage that he could afford to be prudent, came out with a ship just returned from a long voyage, and much in want of repair, to encounter a foe larger, better manned, better armed, provided, as it turned out, with some special contrivances for protection, and quite as likely to be as well handled as his own ship. For many months, we have heard of the Kearsarge as a foe worthy of the Alabama, should she have the luck to catch her; indeed, the Captain of the Kearsarge had assumed that if they met there could be only one possible result. Why, then, did not Captain Semmes see that this was an occasion for the exercise of that discretion or that ingenuity which the greatest generals have thought rather an addition to their fame? Did his prudence give way, as they say a brave man's courage will sometimes? Was he wearied with a warfare upon the defenceless? Did conscience or self-respect suggest that the destroyer of a hundred unarmed merchantmen had need to prove his courage and to redeem his name from piracy? It is simply said he had been challenged, and that he had accepted the challenge, not without some forecasts of the result. As an ordinary duellist hands his watch and his pocket-book to a friend, Captain Semmes sent on shore his sixty chronometers — the mementoes of so many easier conflicts — his money, and the bills of ransomed vessels. He then steamed nine miles out to sea, and entered into mortal combat with the enemy, first exchanging shots at the distance of little more than a mile — out of all distance, our fathers would have called it; not so now. As it happened, and as it frequently happens on such occasions, an English yacht was in the harbor, and its owner, Mr. Lancaster, thought the view of one of the most important naval engagements likely to occur in his time, was worth the risk of a stray shot. His wife, niece, and family were on board; but, no doubt, they shared his interest in the spectacle. The firing began just as we Londoners had got to the first lesson in the morning service. As the guns of the Alabama had been pointed for two thousand yards, and the second shot went right through the Kearsarge, that was probably the distance at first; and we are told the ships were never nearer than a quarter of a mile. The Alabama fired quicker, in all, about one hundred and fifty rounds; the Kearsarge fired about one hundred, chiefly eleven-inch shells. One of these shells broke the Alabama's rudder and compelled her to hoist sail. By this time, however, after about an hour's work, the Alabama was sinking, and could only make the best of her way in the direction of Cherbourg. Pursuing our comparative chronology, this brings us to the beginning of the sermon; and it was at the very time that our congregations were listening, as well as they could, to the arguments or the eloquence of our preachers, that the very moving incidents of death and of rescue took place off Cherbourg — the gradual sinking of the Alabama, the picking up of the drowning seamen, and the final departure of the Deerhound, with Captain Semmes, his surviving officers, and some of the crew. The men were all true to the last; they only ceased firing when the water came into the muzzles of their guns; and as they swam for life, all they cared for was that their commander should not fall into Federal hands. He reports that he owes his best men to the training they received on board the Excellent. To all appearance, the superiority of the Kearsarge lay partly in her guns, and, of course, somewhat in her more numerous crew, but not less in her more powerful machinery, which enabled her to move quicker and manoeuvre more easily. We are becoming accustomed to scenes that only four years ago would have been thought appalling, horrible, and portentous. Think of a quiet gentleman, with wife, niece, and family, perhaps governess and maid-servants, having witnessed at their ease, on Sunday morning, a fight, not between two cocks or two dogs, but two men-of-war, a few hours' sail from Southampton. In fact, they and the survivors of the ship destroyed were walking about Southampton and shopping on Monday morning. There appears to have been a very respectable allowance of killed, wounded, and missing; and among the latter is an English surgeon, who is supposed to have gone to the bottom in the midst of his bleeding patients. We shall know very shortly whether the chains hung outside the Kearsarge saved her men. To all appearance, they did not; and but for the melancholy fact that some of the Alabama's wounded must have gone down with her, the loss would probably have been nearly the same on both sides. Is there not something ominous in such an encounter within our own seas? Such a contest, so brief, so hard fought, and so decisive, is even more terrible than the hand-to-hand tussle, and the mere game of fisticuffs that our old fleets used to indulge in with a thousand pop-guns on either side. True, there was damage done at last, but sometimes very little damage to speak of; and a big ship might receive many hundred shots only to have the glory of showing the shot-holes to the populace of Portsmouth. It is not so now. At the distance of a mile, never less than a quarter of a mile, a formidable ship, the terror of American commerce, well armed, well manned, well handled, is sent to the bottom in an hour. Exactly an hour elapsed from the first shot to the moment when it became obvious that the vessel was sinking, when, indeed, the rudder was broken, and the fires were put out. That is the pace at which our naval engagements will be fought for the future. In this instance the pace was all the quicker because the guns had start of the ships, the guns being the new artillery, the ships wooden, excepting the chains of the Kearsarge, if they constitute an exception. The next duel in the British Channel will probably be between two vessels of the Warrior class; and it must
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Foreign accounts of the fight.
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