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‘ [214] what she had been then. She was like the wearied fox-hound, limping back after a long chase, foot-sore, and longing for quiet repose.’

She had, in her mission to cripple the enemy's commerce and cut his sinews of war, captured sixty-three vessels, among them one of the enemy's gunboats, the Hatteras, sunk in battle, had released nine under ransom bond, and had paroled all prisoners taken.

All neutral ports being closed against her prizes, the rest of the vessels were, of necessity, burned at sea. Much complaint was made on account of the burning of these merchantmen, though very little reflection would have taught the complainants that the interests of the captor would have induced him to save the vessels, and send them into the nearest port for condemnation as prizes; therefore, whatever grievance existed was the result of the blockade and of the rule which prevented the captures from being sent into a neutral port to await the decision of a prize court.

On the morning of June 11, 1864, the Alabama entered the harbor of Cherbourg. ‘An officer was sent to call on the port admiral, and ask leave to land the prisoners from the last two ships captured; this was readily granted.’ The next day Captain Semmes went on shore to consult the port admiral ‘in relation to docking and repairing’ the Alabama. As there were only government docks at Cherbourg, the application had to be referred to the emperor. Before an answer was received, the Kearsarge steamed into the harbor, sent a boat ashore, and then ran out and took her station off the breakwater. Captain Semmes learned that the boat from the Kearsarge sent on shore had borne a request that the prisoners discharged from the Alabama might be delivered to the Kearsarge. It will be remembered that the government of the United States, in many harsh and unjust phrases, had refused to recognize the Alabama as a ship of war, and held that the paroles given to her were void. This request was therefore regarded by Captain Semmes as an attempt to recruit for the Kearsarge from the prisoners lately landed by the Alabama, and he so presented the facts to the port admiral, who rejected the application from the Kearsarge.

Captain Semmes sent notice to Captain Winslow of the Kearsarge, whose presence in the offing was regarded as a challenge, that if he would wait until the Alabama could receive some coal on board, she would come out and give him battle.

As has been shown by extracts previously made, Captain Semmes knew that, after his long cruise, the Alabama needed to go into dock for repairs. It had not been possible for him, on account of the rigid

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June 11th, 1864 AD (1)
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