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[302] advantage that was proved completely in the action between the two well-matched vessels when at last they met.

June 19, 1864, was the momentous day of the meeting. The Kearsarge had located the Alabama in the harbor of Cherbourg, France, and on the 14th of the month had steamed in and passed out again without anchoring. This was both a challenge and a defiance, and Captain Semmes decided that he could “hardly do less than go out and meet her.” So he wrote the Alabama's agent at Cherbourg, expressing the hope that the Kearsarge would not depart at once, as he intended to fight just as soon as the Alabama could be gotten ready. Through this channel, Winslow was informed of Semmes' intention by the United States consul. It was a bright Sunday morning when the Alabama steamed through the opening of the harbor, accompanied by the French man-of-war Couronne, and steered straight for her waiting adversary. Let us quote from a Confederate chronicle:

The late foul weather had given way to a gentle breeze, and the subsiding swell of the Atlantic wave under a clear sky made the day eminently favorable for the work in hand. All Cherbourg was on the heights above the town and along the bastions and the mole. Never did knightly tournament boast a more eager multitude of spectators. It chanced, fortunately, that an English steam-yacht, the Deerhound, with its owner, Mr. John Lancaster, and his family on board, was in harbor at the time. The Deerhound followed the Alabama at a respectful distance and was the closest witness of the fight. Some French pilot-boats hung as near as they considered prudent. At the limit of neutral waters the Alabama parted company with her escort, and the Couronne returned to within a league of the shore.

In three-quarters of an hour, at the distance of about a mile, the Alabama opened fire. It was some time before the Kearsarge replied. Captain Winslow soon perceived that, despite the supposed superiority of the Alabama in enginepower, he had the faster vessel, and the circling tactics which the two ships observed during the fight were made necessary

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