A splendid officer.
“He was always considered one of the best officers and most high-toned gentlemen of the old service.
For some years he was connected with the coast survey, and Professor Bache
, the head of the department, declared that if Maffitt
was taken from him he could not supply his place in all the navy.”
He added: ‘He is not only a thorough seaman and game to the backbone, but a man of superior intellect, a humorist of rare excellence, and one of the most delightful companions.
There is no position in his profession which Maffitt
is not capable of filling with honor and distinction.’
This was his acknowledged position when the war began.
His last command while in the service of the United States
, was the Crusader
. He was very successful in capturing slavers.
In January, 1860, while in command of the Crusader
, and also acting as paymaster of the vessel, he was ordered by the Secretary of the Navy
to proceed to Mobile
, and there cash a check on the collector of the port for prize money due the officers and crew.
The city being agitated at the time by the Ordinance of Secession, just passed by the State of Alabama
, he was forced to put his vessel in a defensive position, and soon retired to the port of Habana
Here, failing to negotiate with the bank of Habana
for the funds requisite for the necessities of the vessel, he advanced from his private funds the money needed to work the steamer to New York, where he was ordered.
He turned the steamer over to the proper authorities and went to Washington
to settle his accounts.
His cash accounts received no attention, though for several months he was a constant applicant for settlement.
A trying position was his, as his wife was dead, and his children had no kinsfolk, save in North Carolina
; if he remained in the navy his property, which was all in the North
, would be secured to him. All that appealed to his interests lay there.
Love of his profession was entwined with every fibre of his being.
On the other hand, he would have been compelled to fight against his people—perhaps fire upon the very home that had sheltered him, and was then sheltering his defenceless children.
One night a friend informed him that his name was down for arrest the next day. His affections drew him South.
His resignation having been accepted, he felt free to leave and cast his fortunes with his people.
His war record is well known.
During the earlier part of the war he commanded the celebrated Confederate corvette Florida
, and the ram Albemarle
, rendering most valuable service