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Chapter 26:

  • The Sumter in trouble
  • -- finds it impossible to coal, by reason of a combination against her, headed by the Federal Consul -- Applies to the British Government for coal, but is refused -- sends her paymaster and ex-consul Tunstall to Cadiz -- they are arrested and imprisoned at Tangier -- correspondence on the subject -- the Sumter laid up and sold.

The Sumter's boilers were very much out of condition when she arrived at Gibraltar, and we had hoped, from the fact that Gibraltar was a touching-point for several lines of steamers, that we should find here, machine and boiler shops sufficiently extensive to enable us to have a new set of boilers made. We were disappointed in this; and so were compelled to patch up the old boilers as best we could, hoping that when our funds should arrive, we might be enabled to coal, and run around to London or Liverpool, where we would find all the facilities we could desire. My funds arrived, as before stated, on the 3d of February, and I at once set about supplying myself with coal. I sent my first lieutenant and paymaster on shore, and afterward my engineer, to purchase it, authorizing them to pay more than the market-price, if it should be necessary. The reader will judge of my surprise when these officers returned, and informed me that they found the market closed against them, and that it was impossible to purchase a pound of coal in any direction I

It has been seen, in the course of these pages, how often I have had occasion to complain of the conduct of the Federal Consuls, and one can scarcely conceive the trouble and annoyance which these well-drilled officials of Mr. Seward gave [330] me. I could not, of course, have complained, if their bearing toward me had been simply that of open enemies. This was to be expected. But they descended to bribery, trickery, and fraud, and to all the other arts of petty intrigue, so unworthy of an honorable enemy. Our Southern people can scarcely conceive how little our non-commercial Southern States were known, in the marts of traffic and trade of the world. Beyond a few of our principal ports, whence our staple of cotton was shipped to Europe, our nomenclature even was unknown to the mass of mere traders. The Yankee Consul and the Yankee shipmaster were everywhere. Yankee ships carried out cargoes of cotton, and Yankee ships brought back the goods which were purchased with the proceeds. All the American trade with Europe was Yankee trade—a ship here and there excepted. Commercial men, everywhere, were thus more or less connected with the enemy; and trade being the breath of their nostrils, it is not wonderful that I found them inimical to me. With rare exceptions, they had no trade to lose with the South, and much to lose with the North; and this was the string played upon by the Federal Consuls. If a neutral merchant showed any inclination to supply the Sumter with anything she needed, a runner was forthwith sent round to him by the Federal Consul, to threaten him with the loss of his American—i. e. Yankee—trade, unless he desisted.

Such was the game now being played in Gibraltar, to prevent the Sumter from coaling. The same Federal Consul, who, as the reader has seen a few pages back, stated in an official letter to the Spanish Admiral, that the Neapolitan had been captured within the marine league of the Spanish-African coast, whilst the captain of the same ship had sworn positively that she was distant from it, nine miles, was now bribing and threatening the coal-dealers of Gibraltar, to prevent them from supplying me with coal. Whilst I was pondering my dilemma, I was agreeably surprised, one morning, to receive a visit from an English shipmaster, whose ship had just arrived with some coal on board. He was willing, he said, to supply me, naming his price, which I at once agreed to give him. I congratulated myself that I had at last found an independent Englishman, who had no fear of the loss of Yankee [331] trade, and expressed as much to him. ‘If there is anything,’ said he, ‘of which I am proud, it is just that thing, that I am an independent man.’ It was arranged that I should get up steam, and go alongside of him the next day. In the meantime, however, ‘a change came o'er the spirit’ of the Englishman's dream. He visited the shore. What took place there, we do not know; but the next morning, whilst I was weighing my anchor to go alongside of him, according to agreement, a boat came from the ship of my ‘independent’ friend to say, that I could not have the coal, unless I would pay him double the price agreed upon! He, too, had fallen into the hands of the enemy. The steam was blown off, and the anchor not weighed.

Finding that I could do nothing with the merchants, I had recourse to the Government. There was some coal in the Dock-Yard, and I addressed the following note to my friend, Captain Warden, to see if he would not supply me:—

Confederate States steamer Sumter, February 10, 1862.
Sir:—I have the honor to inform you, that I have made every effort to procure a supply of coal, without success. The British and other merchants of Gibraltar, instigated I learn by the United States Consul, have entered into the unneutral combination of declining to supply the Sumter with coal on any terms. Under these circumstances I trust the Government of her Majesty will find no difficulty in supplying me. By the recent letter of Earl Russell— 31st of January, 1862—it is not inconsistent with neutrality, for a belligerent to supply himself with coal in a British port. In other words, this article has been pronounced, like provisions, innoxious; and this being the case, it can make no difference whether it be supplied by the Government or an individual (the Government being reimbursed the expense), and this even though the market were open to me. Much more then may the Government supply me with an innocent article, the market not being open to me. Suppose I had come into port destitute of provisions, and the same illegal combination had shut me out from the market, would the British Government permit my crew to starve? Or suppose I had been a sailing-ship, and had come in dismasted from the effects of a recent gale, and the dock-yard of her Majesty was the only place where I could be refitted, would you deny me a mast? The laws of nations are positive on this last point, and it would be your duty to allow me to refit in the public dock. And if you would not, under the circumstances stated, deny me a mast, on what principle will you deny me coal—the latter being as necessary to a steamer as a mast to a sailing-ship, and both being alike innoxious? [332]

The true criterion is, not whether the Government or an individual may supply the article, but whether the article itself be noxious or innoxious. The Government may not supply me with powder—why? Not because I may have recourse to the market, but because the article itself is interdicted. A case in point occurred when I was in Cadiz recently My ship was admitted into a Government dock, and there repaired. The reasons were, first, the repairs, themselves, were such as were authorized by the laws of nations; and secondly, there were no private docks in Cadiz. So here, the article is innocent, and there is none in the market—or rather none accessible to me, which is the same thing. Why, then, may not the Government supply me? In conclusion, I respectfully request that you will supply me with 150 tons of coal, for which I will pay the cash; or, if you prefer it, I will deposit the money with an agent, who can have no difficulty, I suppose, in purchasing the same quantity of the material from some of the coal-hulks, and returning it to her Majesty's dock-yard.

This application was telegraphed to the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in London, and after the lapse of a week—for it took the ‘law-officers of the Crown’ a week, it seems, to decide the question—was denied. On the same day on which I wrote the above letter, I performed the very pleasant duty of paying to the Spanish Consul at Gibraltar, on account of the authorities at Cadiz, the amount of the bill which the dockyard officers at Caracca had rendered me, for docking my ship. The dock-yard Admiral had behaved very handsomely about it. I was entirely destitute of funds. He docked my ship, with a knowledge of this fact, and was kind enough to say that I might pay at my convenience. I take pleasure in recording this conduct on the part of a Spanish gentleman, who held a high position in the Spanish Navy, as a set-off to the coarse and unfriendly conduct of the Military Governor of Cadiz, of whom I have before spoken.

Failing with the British Government, as I had done with the merchants of Gibraltar, to obtain a supply of coal, I next dispatched my paymaster for Cadiz, with instructions to purchase in that port, and ship the article around to me. A Mr. Tunstall, who had been the United States Consul at Cadiz, before the war, was then in Gibraltar, and at his request, I sent him along with the paymaster. They embarked on board a small French steamer plying between some of the Mediterranean ports, and Cadiz. Tangier, a small Moorish [333] town on the opposite side of the Strait of Gibraltar, lies in the route, and the steamer stopped there for a few hours to land and receive passengers, and to put off, and take on freight. Messrs. Myers and Tunstall, during this delay, went up into the town, to take a walk, and as they were returning, were set upon by a guard of Moorish soldiers, and made prisoners! Upon demanding an explanation, they were informed that they had been arrested upon a requisition of the United States Consul, resident in that town.

By special treaties between the Christian powers, and the Moorish and other non-Christian powers on the borders of the Mediterranean, it is provided that the consuls of the different Christian powers shall have jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, over their respective citizens. It was under such a treaty between the United States and Morocco, that the United States Consul had demanded the arrest of Messrs. Myers and Tunstall, as citizens of the United States, alleging that they had committed high crimes against the said States, on the high seas! The ignorant Moorish officials knew nothing, and cared nothing, about the laws of nations; nor did they puzzle their small brains with what was going on, on the American continent. All they knew was, that one ‘Christian dog,’ had demanded other ‘Christian dogs,’ as his prisoners, and troops were sent to the Consul, to enable him to make the arrest as a matter of course.

The Consul, hoping to recommend himself to the mad populace of the United States, who were just then denouncing the Sumter as a ‘pirate,’ and howling for the blood of all embarked on board of her—with as little brains as their Moorish allies,—acted like the brute he was, took the prisoners to his consular residence, ironed them heavily, and kept them in close confinement! He guarded them as he would the apple of his eye, for had he not a prize which might make him Consul for life at Tangier? Alas for human hopes! I have since learned that he was kicked out of his place, to make room for another Sans Culotte, even more hungry, and more ‘truly loil’ than himself.

Intelligence of the rich prizes which he had made, having been conveyed by the Consul, to the commanding United [334] States naval officer, in the Bay of Algeziras, which bay had by this time become a regular naval station of the enemy, that officer, instead of releasing the prisoners at once, as he should have done, on every principle of honor, if not out of regard for the laws of nations, which he was bound to respect and obey, sent the sailing bark Ino, one of his armed vessels, to Tangier, which received the prisoners on board, and brought them over to Algeziras—the doughty Consul accompanying them.

There was great rejoicing on board the Yankee ships of war, in that Spanish port, when the Consul and his prisoners arrived. They had blockaded the Sumter in the Mississippi, they had blockaded her in Martinique, they had chased her hither and thither; Wilkes, Porter, and Palmer, had all been in pursuit of her, but they had all been baffled. At last, the little Tangier Consul appears upon the scene, and waylaying, not the Sumter, but her paymaster, unarmed, and unsuspicious of Yankee fraud, and Yankee trickery, captures him in the streets of a Moorish town, and hurries him over to Algeziras, ironed like a felon, and delivers him to Captain Craven, of the United States Navy, who receives the prisoner, irons and all, and applauds the act!

In a day or two, after the Consul's trophies had been duly exhibited in the Bay of Algeziras; after the rejoicings were over, and lengthy despatches had been written, announcing the capture to the Washington Government, the Ino sets sail for Cadiz, and there transfers her prisoners to a merchant-ship, called the Harvest Home, bound for the goodly port of Boston.

The prisoners were gentlemen,—one of them had been an officer of the Federal Navy, and the other a Consul,—but this did not deter the master of the Yankee merchant-ship from practising upon them the cruelty and malignity of a cowardly nature. His first act was to shave the heads of his prisoners, and his second, to put them in close confinement, still ironed, though there was no possibility of their escape. The captain of the Ino, or of the Harvest Home, I am not sure which,—they may settle it between them,—robbed my paymaster of his watch, so as not to be behindhand with their countrymen on the land, who were just then beginning to practise the art of watch and spoon stealing, in which, under the lead of illustrious [335] chiefs, they soon afterward became adepts. I blush, as an American, to be called upon to record such transactions, It were well for the American name, if they could be buried a thousand fathoms deep, and along with them the perpetrators.

At first, a rumor only of the capture and imprisonment of my paymaster, and his companion, reached me. It appeared so extraordinary, that I could not credit it. And even if it were true, I took it for granted, that the silly act of the Federal Consul would be set aside by the commander of the Federal naval forces, in the Mediterranean. The rumor soon ripened, however, into a fact, and the illusion which I had labored under as to the course of the Federal naval officer, was almost as speedily dispelled. I had judged him by the old standard, the standard which had prevailed when I myself knew something of the personnel of the United States Navy. But old things had passed away, and new things had come to take their places. A violent, revolutionary faction had possessed itself of the once honored Government of the United States, and, as is the case in all revolutions, coarse and vulgar men had risen to the surface, thrusting the more gentle classes into the background. The Army and the Navy were soon brought under the influence of these coarser and ruder men, and the necessary consequence ensued—the Army and the Navy themselves became coarser and ruder. Some few fine natures resisted the unholy influences, but the mass of them went, as masses will always go, with the current.

As soon as the misfortunes of my agents were known to me, I resorted to all the means within my reach, to endeavor to effect their release, but in vain, as they were carried to Boston, and there imprisoned. I first addressed a note to General Codrington, the Governor of Gibraltar, requesting him to intercede with her Britannic Majesty's Charge, at the Court of Morocco, for their release. This latter gentleman, whose name was Hay, resided at Tangier, where the Court of Morocco then was, and was said to have great influence with it; indeed, to be all-powerful. I then wrote to the Morocco Government direct, and also to Mr. Hay. I give so much of this correspondence below as is necessary to inform the reader of the facts and circumstances of the case, and of the conduct of the several functionaries to whom I addressed myself. [336]

Confederate States steamer Sumter, Bay of Gibraltar, February 22, 1862.
Sir:—I have the honor to ask the good offices of his Excellency, the Governor of Gibraltar [this letter was addressed to the Colonial Secretary, who conducted all the Governor's official correspondence], in a matter purely my own. On Wednesday last, I dispatched from this port, in a French passenger-steamer for Cadiz, on business connected with this ship, my paymaster, Mr. Henry Myers, and Mr. T. T. Tunstall, a citizen of the Confederate States, and ex-United States Consul at Cadiz. The steamer having stopped on her way, at Tangier, and these gentlemen having gone on shore for a walk during her temporary delay there, they were seized by the authorities, at the instigation of the United States Consul, and imprisoned.

A note from Paymaster Myers informs me that they are both heavily ironed, and otherwise treated in a barbarous manner. * * * An occurrence of this kind could not have happened, of course, in a civilized community. The political ignorance of the Moorish Government has been shamefully practised upon by the unscrupulous Consul. I understand that the British Government has a diplomatic agent resident at Tangier, and a word from that gentleman would, no doubt, set the matter right, and insure the release of the unfortunate prisoners. And it is to interest this gentleman in this humane task, that I address myself to his Excellency. May I not ask the favor of his Excellency, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, to address Mr. Hay a note on the subject, explaining to him the facts, and asking his interposition? If any official scruples present themselves, the thing might be done in his character of a private gentleman. The Moorish Government could not hesitate a moment, if it understood correctly the facts, and principles of the case; to wit: that the principal powers of Europe have recognized the Confederate States, as belligerents, in their war against the United States, and consequently that the act of making war against these States, by the citizens of the Confederate States, is not an offence, political, or otherwise, of which a neutral can take cognizance, &c.

Governor Codrington did kindly and humanely interest himself, and write to Mr. Hay, but his letter produced no effect. In reply to my own note to Mr. Hay, that gentleman wrote me as follows:—

You must be aware, that her Majesty's Government have decided on observing a strict neutrality, in the present conflict between the Northern and Southern States; it is therefore incumbent on her Majesty's officers, to avoid anything like undue interference in any questions affecting the interests of either party, which do not concern the British Government; and though I do not refuse to accede to your request, to deliver the letter to the Moorish authorities, I think it my duty to signify, distinctly, to the latter, my intention [337] to abstain from expressing an opinion regarding the course to be pursued by Morocco, on the subject of your letter.

In reply to this letter of Mr. Hay, I addressed him the following:—

Confederate States steamer Sumter, Gibraltar, February 25, 1862.
Sir:—I have had the honor to receive your letter of yesterday's date, in reply to mine of the 23d inst., informing me that ‘You [I] must be aware that her Britannic Majesty's Government have decided on observing a strict neutrality, in the present conflict between the Northern and Southern States; it is therefore incumbent on her Majesty's officers to avoid anything like undue inter. ference in any questions affecting the interests of either party, which do not concern the British Government; and though I do not refuse to accede to your request, to deliver the letter to the Moorish authorities, I think it my duty to signify distinctly to the latter my intention to refrain from expressing an opinion regarding the course to be pursued by Morocco on the subject-matter of your letter.’

Whilst I thank you for the courtesy of delivering my letter, as requested, I must be permitted to express to you my disappointment at the course which you have prescribed to yourself, of refraining from expressing any opinion to the Moorish Government, of the legality or illegality of its act, lest you should be charged with undue interference.

I had supposed that the ‘Trent affair,’ of so recent occurrence, had settled, not only the right, but the duty of the civilized nations of the earth to ‘interfere,’ in a friendly manner, to prevent wars between nations. It cannot have escaped your observation, that the course pursued by Europe in that affair, is precisely analogous to that which I have requested of you. In that affair a quarrel arose between the United States, one of the belligerents in the existing war, and Great Britain, a neutral in that war; and instead of ‘refraining’ from offering advice, all Europe made haste to volunteer it to both parties. The United States were told by France, by Russia, by Spain, and other Powers, that their act was illegal, and that they could, without a sacrifice of honor, grant the reparation demanded by Great Britain. Neither the nation giving the advice nor the nation advised, supposed for a moment that there was a breach of neutrality in this proceeding; on the contrary, it was the general verdict of mankind, that the course pursued was not only legal, but eminently humane and proper, as tending to allay excitement, and prevent the effusion of blood.

If you will run a parallel between the Trent case, and the case in hand, you will find it difficult, I think, to sustain the reason you have assigned for your forbearance. In that case, the quarrel rel was between a neutral, and a belligerent, as in this case. In that case, citizens of a belligerent State were unlawfully arrested [338] on the high seas, in a neutral ship, by the opposite belligerent, and imprisoned. In this case, citizens of a belligerent State have been unlawfully arrested by a neutral, in neutral territory, and imprisoned. Does the fact that the offence was committed in the former case, by a belligerent against a neutral, and in the latter ease, by a neutral against a belligerent, make any difference in the application of the principle we are discussing? And if so, in what does the difference consist? If A strikes B, is it lawful to interfere to preserve the peace, and if B strikes A, is it unlawful to interfere for the same purpose? Can the circumstance, that the prisoners seized by the one belligerent, in the Trent affair, were citizens of the other belligerent, alter the application of the principle? The difference, if any, is in favor of the present case, for whilst the belligerent in the former case was compelled to release its enemies, whom, under proper conditions it would have had the right to capture, in the latter case I requested you to advise a neutral to release prisoners, who were not the enemies of the neutral, and whom the neutral could have no right to capture under any circumstances whatever.

Upon further inquiry, I learn that my first impression, that the two gentlemen in question had been arrested under some claim of extradition, was not exactly correct. It seems that they were arrested by Moorish soldiery, upon the requisition of the United States Consul, who claimed to exercise jurisdiction over them, as citizens of the United States, under a provision of a treaty common between what are called the non-civilized and the civilized nations. This state of facts does not alter, in any degree, the reasoning applicable to the case. If Morocco adopts the status given to the Confederate States by Europe, she must remain neutral between the two belligerents, not undertaking to judge of the nationality of the citizens of either of them, or to decide any other question growing out of the war, which does not concern her own interests. She has no right, therefore, to adjudge a citizen of the Confederate States? to be a citizen of the United States; and not having this right, herself, she cannot convey it by treaty to the United States, to be exercised by their Consul in Tangier.

I trust that you will not understand, that I have written in a tone of remonstrance, or complaint. I have no ground on which to demand anything of you. The friendly offices of nations, like those of individuals, must be spontaneous; and if in the present instance, you have not deemed yourself at liberty to offer a word of friendly advice, to a Barbarian Government which has evidently erred through ignorance of its rights and duties, in favor of unfortunate citizens of a Government, in amity with your own, and whose people are connected with your people by so many ties of consanguinity and interest, I have no word of remonstrance to offer. You are the best judge of your own actions.

I never received any reply to this letter from Mr. Hay. The fact that the prisoners were permitted to be delivered up to the enemy, [339] as before stated, is conclusive that he was as good as his word, and ‘signified distinctly’ to the Moorish Government, that he should refrain from giving it any advice on the subject— which, of course, under the circumstances, was tantamount to advising it to do what it did. If he had contented himself with handing in my protest to the Moorish authorities, without any remark whatever, his conduct would not have been so objectionable, but when he made it a point to inform them, as he took pains to tell me he would, that he had no advice to offer them, this was saying to them in effect, ‘I have no objection to offer to your course;’ for it must be borne in mind, that Mr. Hay was a great favorite with the Government to which he was accredited, and was in the constant habit of giving it advice on every and all occasions. The consuls of the different powers resident in Tangier behaved no better than Mr. Hay. A serious commotion among the Christian residents took place, upon the arrest and imprisonment of Messrs. Myers and Tunstall, which would probably have resulted in their release by the Government, but for the interference of these consuls, headed by Mr. Hay. They advised their respective countrymen to disperse, and ‘refraining distinctly,’ each and all of them, from giving a word of advice to the perplexed authorities, though implored by the Moors themselves to do so, the latter construed the whole course of Hay and the consuls to mean, that they must comply with the Federal Consul's demand, and hand over the prisoners to him.

The news of this arrest and imprisonment created great excitement in most of the Christian capitals, particularly in London. A formal call was made in the British Parliament, upon the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, for an official statement of the facts; but it being rumored and believed, soon afterward, in London, that the prisoners had been released, no steps were taken by the British Government, if any were contemplated, until it was too late. Mr. Mason, our Commissioner in London, interested himself at once in the matter, but was deceived like the rest, by the rumor. The following extract from a letter written by me to him on the 19th of March will show how the British Government had been bamboozled by some one, although there was a continuous line of telegraph between London and Gibraltar— [340]

I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 8th inst. informing me that, as late as the 7th of March, the English Government was under the impression that Paymaster Myers and Mr. Tunstall, had been released from imprisonment; and requesting me to telegraph you, if the contrary should be the fact. This lack of information on the part of the Under Secretary of State is somewhat remarkable, as no rumor has prevailed here, at any time, that these gentlemen had been liberated. On the contrary, the sloop-of-war Ino, of the enemy, came into this Bay—Spanish side—on the 28th of February, with the prisoners on board, and sailed with them the next day. On the 6th of March, the Ino transferred the prisoners to the enemy's merchant-ship, Harvest Home, off Cadiz, which sailed immediately for Boston. You will perceive, from the narration of these facts, that it was unnecessary to telegraph to you, as the prisoners, though they had not been released, had been placed beyond the reach of the British Government through its Charge at Tangier—even if you could have induced that Government to interfere, which I very much doubt.

‘You have, of course, been informed through the press, that the Moorish Government was anxious to liberate the prisoners, but that it was bullied into acquiescence, by the truculent Federal Consul, who was backed by a force of forty armed men, landed from the Ino, and who threatened to haul down his flag, and quit the country, if his demand was not complied with. A word of advice given, unofficially even, by Mr. Hay, or some one of the consuls present, would have been an act of kindness to the ignorant Moors, in keeping them out of a scrape, as well as to ourselves. As the case now stands, we shall be obliged, as soon as we shall have gotten rid of this Yankee war, to settle accounts with his Majesty of Morocco.’

One more letter, and the reader will have full information of this Tangier difficulty. Myers and Tunstall had embarked, as has been stated, under the French flag, and I wrote to Mr. Slidell in Paris, requesting him to call the attention of the French Government to this fact. Having received from him in reply a note informing me that he had done so, I wrote him again as follows:—

I have had the honor to receive your note of the 8th of March, informing me that you had referred the subject of the capture of Messrs. Myers and Tunstall to Mons. Thouvenal, the French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but that the impression prevailed in Paris that those gentlemen had been liberated. With regard to the latter fact, you will, of course, have been undeceived before this. The prisoners will probably be in Fort Warren, before this reaches you. The French Consul-General at Tangier must have kept his Government badly informed on the subject, since the latter [341] supposed, as late as the 8th inst., that the prisoners had been liberated.

I trust that you will be able to make something out of the case. It is one in which all the Christian powers are interested. If this precedent is to stand, a French or an English subject may be seized, to-morrow, upon the simple requisition of a consul, and handed over to his enemy. And then, as I stated to you, in my first letter, is not the honor of the French flag involved? It is admitted that, as between civilized states, this question of the flag would not arise, the parties having disembarked. But a different set of rules has been applied to the dealings of the Christian powers, with the non-Christian, as is shown by this very arrest, under a claim of jurisdiction by a consul. A Frenchman in Morocco is, by treaty, under the protection of the French Consular flag. If he commits an offence, he is tried and punished by his Consul, regardless of the fact that he is literally within the jurisdiction of Morocco. And these concessions have been demanded by the Christian nations, for the security of their subjects.

A French citizen, on board a French merchant-ship, lying in the waters of Morocco, would be subject to the same rule. Should, now, a French traveller, landing in Morocco, in itinere, only, from a French ship, be subject to a different rule? and if so, on what principle? And if a Frenchman would be protected under these circumstances—protected because of the flag which has brought him hither, and not because he is a Frenchman, simply, why may not Messrs. Myers and Tunstall claim French protection? Though they were on the soil of Morocco, when arrested, they were there, in itinere, under the French flag, which not only exterritorialized the ship, over which it floated, but every one who belonged to the ship, whether on ship-board or on shore, for the time being.

‘But what appears to me most extraordinary in this case, is the apathy, or rather the fear of their own governments, which was manifested by the representatives of the Christian powers, on the occasion of the arrest. A friend of mine, the Captain of an English steam-frigate, on this station, visited Tangier, with his ship, a day or two only after the occurrence, and he informs me that the Moorish authorities were sorely perplexed, during the pendency of the affair, and that they implored the counsel and assistance of the representatives of the Christian powers, to enable them to solve the difficulty, but that not one word of advice was tendered.’ * * *

I was sorry to lose my very efficient paymaster, but there was no remedy. He was incarcerated for a while, after his arrival in Boston, but was treated as a prisoner of war, and was finally released on parole. The Secretary of the Federal Navy directed his stolen watch to be returned to him; which is worthy of record, as being something exceptional [342] but I have never learned whether any punishment was inflicted upon the party committing the theft. Probably not, as by this time, entire Federal armies had become demoralized and taken to plundering.

The Sumter was now blockaded by three ships of the enemy and it being impossible for me to coal, I resolved to lay her up, and proceed to London, and consult with my Government as to my future course. I might possibly have had coal shipped to me from London, or some other English port, but this would have involved expense and delay, and it was exceedingly doubtful besides, whether I could elude the vigilance of so many blockading ships, in a slow ship, with crippled boilers. In her best days, the Sumter had been a very inefficient ship, being always anchored, as it were, in the deep sea, by her propeller, whenever she was out of coal. A fast ship, propelled entirely by sail-power, would have been better.

When I look back now, I am astonished to find what a struggle it cost me to get my own consent to lay up this old ship. As inexplicable as the feeling is, I had really become attached to her, and felt as if I would be parting forever with a valued friend. She had run me safely through two vigilant blockades, had weathered many storms, and rolled me to sleep in many calms. Her cabin was my bed-room and my study, both in one, her quarter-deck was my promenade, and her masts, spars, and sails, my playthings. I had handled her in all kinds of weather, watching her every motion in difficult situations, as a man watches the yielding and cracking ice over which he is making a perilous passage. She had fine qualities as a seaboat, being as buoyant, active, and dry as a duck, in the heaviest gales, and these are the qualities which a seaman most admires.

And then, there are other chords of feeling touched in the sailor's heart, at the end of a cruise, besides the parting with his ship. The commander of a ship is more or less in the position of a father of a family. He necessarily forms an attachment for those who have served under him, and especially for such as have developed honorable qualities, and high abilities, and I had a number on board the Sumter who had developed both. I only regretted that they had not a wider field for the [343] exercise of their abilities. I had officers serving with me, as lieutenants, who were equal to any naval command, whatever. But, unfortunately for them, our poor, hard-pressed Confederate States had no navy worth speaking of; and owing to the timidity, caution, and fear of neutrals, found it impossible to improvise one. And then, when men have been drenched, and wind-beaten in the same storm, have stood on the deck of the same frail little ship, with only a plank between them and eternity, and watched her battling with the elements, which threaten every moment to overwhelm her, there is a feeling of brotherhood that springs up between them, that it is difficult for a landsman to conceive.

There was another, and if possible, stronger chord which bound us together. In the olden time, when the Christian warrior went forth to battle with the Saracen, for the cross, each knight was the sworn brother of the other. They not only slept in the same tents, endured the same hardships, and encountered the same risks, but their faith bound them together with hooks of steel. Without irreverence be it spoken, we of the Southern States had, too, our faith. The Saracen had invaded our beloved land, and was laying it waste with fire and sword. We were battling for our honor, our homes, and our property; in short, for everything that was dear to the human heart. Yea, we were battling for our blood and our race, for it had been developed, even at this early stage of the war, that it was the design of the Northern hordes that were swarming down upon us, not only to liberate the slave, but to enable him to put his foot upon the neck of his late master, and thus bastardize, if possible, his posterity. The blood of the white man in our veins could not but curdle at the contemplation of an atrocity which nothing but the brain of a demon could have engendered.

Besides my officers, I had many worthy men among my crew, who had stood by me in every emergency, and who looked forward with sorrowful countenances, to the approaching separation. The reader has been introduced to my Malayan steward, John, on several occasions. John's black, lustrous eyes filled with ill-concealed tears, more than once, during the last days of the Sumter, as he smoothed the pillow of my cot [344] with a hand as tender as that of a woman, or handed me the choicest dishes at meals.

I had governed my crew with a rigid hand, never overlooking an offence, but I had, at the same time, always been mindful of justice, and I was gratified to find, both on the part of officers and men, an apparent forgetfulness of the little jars and discords which always grow out of the effort to enforce discipline, it matters not how suavely and justly the effort may be made.

Being more or less cut off from communication with the Navy Department, I deemed it but respectful and proper to consult with our Commissioner in London, Mr. Mason, and to obtain his consent before finally laying up the Sumter. Mr. Mason agreed with me entirely in my views, and telegraphed me to this effect on the 7th of April. The next few days were busy days on board the Sumter. Upon the capture of Paymaster Myers, I had appointed Lieutenant J. M. Stribling Acting Paymaster, and I now set this officer at work, closing the accounts of the ship and paying off the officers and men. The officers were formally detached from the command, as fast as paid off, and they embarked for London, on their way to another ship, or to the Confederate States, as circumstances might determine; and the men, with snug little sums in their pockets, were landed, and as is usually the case with sailors, soon dispersed to the four quarters of the globe; each carrying with him the material for yarn-spinning for the balance of his life.

By the 11th of April we had completed all our preparations for turning over the ship to the midshipman who was to have charge of her, and in two or three days afterward, accompanied by Mr. Kell, my first lieutenant, and several other of my officers, I embarked on board the mail-steamer for Southampton. The following is an extract from the last letter that was written to the Secretary of the Navy from on board the Sumter:—

I now have the honor to report to you, that I have discharged and paid off, in full, all the crew, numbering fifty, with the exception of the ten men detailed to remain by the ship, as servants, and to form a boat's crew for the officer left in charge. I have placed [345] Midshipman R. F. Armstrong, assisted by Acting Master's Mate I. T. Hester, in charge of the ship, with provisions and funds for ten or twelve months, and I have directed all the other officers to return to the Confederate States, and report themselves to the Department. I will myself proceed to London, and after conferring with Mr. Mason, make the best of my way home. I trust the Department will see, in what I have done, an anxious desire to advance the best interests of our country, and that it will justify the responsibility, which, in the best exercise of my judgment, I felt it my duty to assume, in the difficult circumstances by which I was surrounded and embarrassed. Enclosed is a copy of my order to Midshipman Armstrong, and a list of the officers and men left on board the ship.

A brief summary of the services of the Sumter, and of what became of her, may not be uninteresting to the reader, who has followed her thus far, in her wanderings. She cruised six months, leaving out the time during which she was blockaded in Gibraltar. She captured seventeen ships, as follows: the Golden Rocket, Cuba, Machias, Ben. Dunning, Albert Adams, Naiad, Louisa Kilham, West Wind, Abby Bradford, Joseph Maxwell, Joseph Parke, D. Trowbridge, Montmorency, Arcade, Vigilant, Eben Dodge, Neapolitan, and Investigator. It is impossible to estimate the damage done to the enemy's commerce. The property actually destroyed formed a very small proportion of it. The fact alone of the Sumter being upon the seas, during these six months, gave such an alarm to neutral and belligerent shippers, that the enemy's carrying-trade began to be paralyzed, and already his ships were being laid up, or sold under neutral flags—some of these sales being bona fide, and others fraudulent. In addition to this, the enemy kept five or six of his best ships of war constantly in pursuit of her, which necessarily weakened his blockade, for which, at this time, he was much pressed for ships. The expense to my Government of running the ship was next to nothing, being only $28,000, or about the price of one of the least valuable of her prizes. The Sumter was sold in the course of a month or two after being laid up, and being put under the English flag as a merchant-ship, made one voyage to the coast of the Confederate States, as a blockade-runner, entering the port of Charleston. Her new owner changed her name to that of Gibraltar. She was lost afterward in the North Sea, and her bones lie interred not far from those of the Alabama.

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