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[645] English government, so as to prevent it from listening to the representations that might be made against their interest.

It was of the utmost importance to oppose some new adversary against the richly-laden ships which sailed under the United States flag, for the two privateers which for a short time had menaced them, were both closely blockaded, and had for ever disappeared from the naval scene. The small steamer Nashville, which, as we have observed before, was the first to prey upon the commerce of the Northern States, had entered the river Ogeechee, on the coast of Georgia, in July, 1862, to land a cargo of arms, and, before she had time to gain the open sea, the entrance of the river was occupied by Federal cruisers; not daring to measure strength with the latter, she had been vainly waiting since that time for an opportunity to escape from them.

With regard to the Sumter, she was at Gibraltar, kept at bay by the Federal gun-boat Tuscarora, which, remaining within the Spanish waters of Algeciras, could give her chase as soon as she should venture to come out. It is a well-known rule of international law that, when two hostile vessels meet in the waters of a neutral power, the first to leave the port is to be granted a start of twenty-four hours. The recognition of the Confederates as belligerents gave to their privateers the benefit of this law, but it was naturally not applicable between Algeciras and Gibraltar. The rapid speed and powerful guns of the Tuscarora made her a formidable adversary. The Sumter had no chance to escape her except by making for the open sea, and taking such measures as to render it unnecessary for her to stop at a neighboring port. But in order to do this she required a larger supply of coal than was authorized by international law, and the vigilance of the American consul did not allow Semmes to evade the law. Finally, in the month of April, despairing of his ability to reach the open sea with that vessel, and expecting, moreover, to soon find another, infinitely superior in every respect, he dismantled the Sumter.

The latter vessel remained at Gibraltar until she was sold to a merchant, who employed her in running the blockade, and Semmes with his officers proceeded to England, to await orders from his government, and an opportunity to ship on one of the new vessels, the equipment of which was no longer a secret to any one.

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