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Chapter 36:

  • The Physiognomy of ships
  • -- capture of the Lafayette-decree of the Admiralty Court on board the Alabama in her case, and in that of the Lauretta-the criticisms of the New York press -- farther proof of the rotary nature of the wind -- the Lauretta captured -- the Crenshaw captured -- the New York Chamber of commerce cries aloud in pain -- capture of the Baron de Castine, and the Levi Starbuck -- capture of the T. B. Wales -- lady prisoners.

The day after the gale recorded in the last chapter, we set all hands at work repairing damages—the carpenters fishing, and the boatswain and his gang refitting the broken main-yard; the gunners putting their battery in order, the sailmaker repairing sails, and the old signal-quartermaster ‘breaking out’ his signal-lockers, which had been invaded by the sea-water, and airing his flags. The latter was enabled, by this time, to make quite a display of Yankee flags, from his signalhalliards—the Alabama having captured seventeen ships in six weeks. As the Yankee ships now began to wear, out of pure patriotism, (though they were out of the war, and profitably chasing the honest penny,) the biggest sort of ‘flaunting lies,’ there were several bagsful of these flags.

We began now to overhaul sails again. From the 16th to the 20th of October, we chased and boarded nine, all of which were neutral! We were, in fact, in an American sea—the Gulf Stream being the thoroughfare of American and West Indian commerce to Europe—and yet the American flag was beginning [480] to disappear from it. Such of the Federal ships as could not obtain employment from the Government, as transports, or be sold under neutral flags, were beginning to rot at the wharves of the once thrifty sea-ports of the Great Republic. Our ‘nautical enterprise’ was beginning to tell on the enemy, and if we had had the ability to imitate Massachusetts, in the war of the first revolution, in the way of putting forth armed cruisers, to prey upon the enemy's commerce, the said enemy would not have had so much as a rope-yarn upon the sea, in the course of twelve months. But at the time of which I am writing, the Alabama and the Florida were the only two Confederate ocean cruisers afloat.

On the 21st of October, we observed in latitude 39° 35′, and longitude 63° 26′, and on that day, we made our first capture since the gale. We were lying to, as usual, when a large ship was descried, in the north-west, running in our direction. Though the wind was very fresh, she had her royals and foretopmast studding-sails set, and was, in consequence, running before the wind, with great speed. I shook the reefs out of my own topsails, and prepared to set the topgallant-sails if it should be necessary, and filled away, and moved toward the path of the stranger as she approached, with the English colors at my peak. The fine, large ship, as she ran down to us, presented a beautiful picture—all the more beautiful because we knew her to be Yankee, although she had not yet shown her colors.

We had become now very expert in detecting the nationalities of ships. I had with me a master's mate—Evans—who had a peculiar talent in this respect. He had been a pilot out of Savannah, and had sailed in the Savannah, privateer, at the beginning of the war. He escaped the harsh treatment, and trial for piracy, which, as the reader may recollect, were the fate of the prisoners captured in that little vessel, by being absent in a prize at the time of her capture. He afterward joined me at Liverpool. Whenever I had any doubt about the nationality of a ship, I always sent for Mr. Evans, and putting my telescope in his hand, I would say to him, ‘Look at that ship,’ pointing in the given direction, ‘and tell me to what nation she belongs.’ A glance of a minute or two was [481] all he required. Lowering his glass at the end of this time, he would say to me, ‘She is a Yankee, sir,’ or, ‘She is not a Yankee,’ as the case might be; and if she was not a Yankee, he would say, ‘I think she is English,’ or French, or Dutch, or whatever other nation to which he supposed her to belong. He sometimes failed, of course, in assigning their proper nationality to neutrals, but his judgment seemed to amount to an instinct, with regard to the question, Yankee, or no Yankee. When he pronounced a ship a Yankee, I was always certain of her. I never knew him to fail, in this particular, but once, and that can scarcely be said to have been a failure. He once mistook a St. John's, New Brunswick-built ship, for an enemy; and the ships built in the British Colonies, on the Yankee border, are such counterparts of American ships, that it is very difficult to distinguish one from the other.

The ship which was now running down for us was, as I have said, a picture, with her masts yielding and swaying to a cloud of sail, her tapering poles shooting skyward, even above her royals, and her well-turned, flaring bows—the latter a distinctive feature of New York-built ships. She came on, rolling gracefully to the sea, and with the largest kind of a ‘bone in her mouth.’ She must have suspected something, from our very equivocal attitude in such weather, and in such a place; but she made no change in her course, and was soon under our guns. A blank cartridge brought her to the wind. If the scene was beautiful before, it was still more so now. If she had been a ship of war, full of men, and with hands stationed at sheets, halliards, and braces, she could not have shortened sail much more rapidly, or have rounded more promptly and gracefully to the wind, with her main topsail aback. Her cloud of canvas seemed to shrivel and disappear, as though it had been a scroll rolled up by an invisible hand. It is true, nothing had been furled, and her light sails were all flying in the wind, confined to the yards only by their clew-lines, but the ship lay as snugly and conveniently for boarding, as I could desire. I frequently had occasion, during my cruises, to admire the seamanship of my enemies. The Yankee is certainly a remarkable specimen of the genus homo. He is at once a duck, and a chicken, and takes to the water, [482] or the land, with equal facility. Providence has certainly designed him for some useful purpose. He is ambitious, restless, scheming, energetic, and has no inconvenient moral nature to restrain him from the pursuit of his interests, be the path to these never so crooked. In the development of material wealth he is unsurpassed, and perhaps this is his mission on this new continent of ours. But he is like the beaver, he works from instinct, and is so avid of gain, that he has no time to enjoy the wealth he produces. Some malicious demon seems to be goading him on, in spite of himself, to continuous and exhausting exertion, which consigns him to the tomb before his time, leaving a ‘pile’ of untouched wealth behind him.

The prize, upon being boarded, proved to be the Lafayette, from New York, laden with grain, chiefly for Irish ports. We learned from newspapers captured on board of her, that news of our capture of the Brilliant and Emily Farnum off the Banks of Newfoundland, had reached the United States, and, as was to be expected, I found, when I came to examine the papers of the Lafayette, plenty of certificates to cover her cargo. In fact, from this time onward, I rarely got hold of an enemy's ship, whose cargo was not certificated all over—oaths for this purpose being apparently as cheap, as the much-derided custom-house oaths, that every ship-master is expected to take, without the least regard to the state of the facts. Upon examination of these certificates, I pronounced them fraudulent, and burned the ship.

As the burning of this vessel, with her cargo nicely ‘covered,’ as the shippers had hoped, with British Consular seals and certificates, seemed to warm up the Northern press, and cause it to hurl fresh denunciations of ‘piracy’ against me, I will detain the reader, a moment, from the thread of my narrative, to look a little into the facts. The reader has already been told that I held a regular prize-court on board the Sumter. I did the same thing on board the Alabama, never condemning a ship or cargo, when there was any claim of neutral property, without the most careful, and thorough examination of her papers, and giving to the testimony the best efforts of my judgment. I had every motive not to offend neutrals. We were hoping for an early recognition of our independence, [483] by the principal powers of the earth, and were covetous of the good — will of them all. I had, besides, the most positive instructions from Mr. Mallory, our Secretary of the Navy, to pay the utmost attention and respect to neutral rights.

Referring to the records of ‘The Confederate States Admiralty Court, held on board the Confederate States steamer Alabama, on the High Seas,’ I find the following decree entered, in the case of the Lafayette.

In re Lafayette.

The ship being under the enemy's flag and register, is condemned. With reference to the cargo, there are certificates, prepared in due form, and sworn to before the British Consul, that it was purchased, and shipped, on neutral account. These ex parte statements are precisely such as every unscrupulous merchant would prepare, to deceive his enemy, and save his property from capture. There are two shipping-houses in the case; that of Craig & Nicoll, and that of Montgomery Bros. Messrs. Craig & Nicoll say, that the grain shipped by them, belongs to Messrs. Shaw & Finlay, and to Messrs. Hamilton, Megault & Thompson, all of Belfast, in Ireland, to which port the ship is bound, but the grain is not consigned to them, and they could not demand possession of it, under the bill of lading. It is, on the contrary, consigned to the order of the shippers; thus leaving the possession, and control of the property, in the hands of the shippers. Farther: The shippers, instead of sending this grain to the pretended owners, in a general ship, on freight, consigned to them, they paying freight, as usual, have chartered the whole ship, and stipulated, themselves, for the payment of all the freights. If this property had been, bona fide, the property of the parties in Belfast, named in the depositions, it would undoubtedly have gone consigned to them, in a bill of lading, authorizing them to demand possession of it, and the agreement with the ship would have been, that the consignees and owners of the property should pay the freight, upon delivery. But even if this property were purchased, as pretended, by Messrs. Craig & Nicoll, for the parties named, still, their not consigning it to them, and delivering them the proper bill of lading, passing the possession, left the property in the possession, and under the dominion of Craig & Nicoll, and as such liable to capture. See 3 Phillimore on International Law, 610, 612, to the effect, that if the goods are going on account of the shipper, or subject to his order or control, they are good prize. They cannot even be sold, and transferred to a neutral, in transitu. They must abide by their condition, at the time of the sailing of the ship.

The property attempted to be covered by the Messrs. Montgomery Bros., is shipped by Montgomery Bros., of New York, and consigned to Montgomery Bros., in Belfast. Here the consignment [484] is all right. The possession of the property has legally passed to the Belfast house. But when there are two houses of trade doing business as partners, and one of them resides in the enemy's country, the other house, though resident in a neutral country, becomes also enemy, quoad the trade of the house in the enemy's country, and its share in any property belonging to the joint concern is subject to capture, equally with the share of the house in the enemy's country. To this point, see 3 Phillimore, 605. Cargo condemned.

This is the whole case of the Lafayette. As this case was coupled, in the criticisms in the Yankee papers to which I have alluded, and which the reader will see presently, with the case of the Lauretta, not yet captured, I will anticipate the capture of this ship by a few days, that the reader may have the facts also in her case.

In re Lauretta.

The ship being under the enemy's colors and register, is condemned. There are two shippers of the cargo, the house of Chamberlain, Phelps & Co., and Mr. H. J. Burden—all the shippers resident, and doing business in the city of New York. Chamberlain, Phelps & Co., ship 1424 barrels of flour, and a lot of pipe staves, to be delivered at Gibraltar, or Messina, to their own order, and 225 kegs of nails to be delivered at Messina, to Mariano Costarelli. The bill of lading for the flour and staves has the following indorsement, sworn to before a notary: “State, City, and County of New York: Louis Contencin, being duly sworn, says, that he is clerk with Chamberlain, Phelps & Co., and that part of the merchandise in the within bill of lading is the property of the subjects of the King of Italy.” This certificate is void for uncertainty. It does not separate the property in the bill of lading, and say which of it belongs to the “subjects of the King of Italy,” and which to the enemy. For aught that appears, ‘the subjects’ alluded to may own no more than a single pipe-staff apiece. Indeed, they can own nothing, as it does not appear what they own. Further: If the property was identified in the certificate, the “subjects of the King of Italy” are not. No man—for there is none named—could claim the property under this certificate. It is, therefore, void, for this reason. See 3 Phillimore, 596.

But the flour and staves are consigned to the order of the shippers, and this, alone, would be sufficient to condemn them, even if the articles had been identified, and the proper owners pointed out in the certificate. The possession of the property at the time of the sailing of the ship, must be divested out of the enemy-shipper. See 3 Phillimore, 610, 612, cited in the case of the Lafayette.

The contingent destination of this property, is another pregnant circumstance. It shows that it was intended for a market, and not [485] for any particular neutral owner. It was to be delivered at Gibraltar or Messina, as the shippers might determine, after the sailing of the ship—probably upon advices received by steamer. So much for the claim of Chamberlain, Phelps & Co.

The property shipped by H. J. Burden, consists of 998 barrels of flour, and 290 boxes of herring, and is consigned to Charles R. Blandy, Esq., at Funchal, Madeira. The shipper makes the following affidavit before the British Consul, in New York: “That all and singular, the goods specified in the annexed bill of lading, were shipped by H. J. Burden, in the bark Lauretta, for, and on account of, H. J. Burden, subject of her Britannic Majesty.” Mr. Burden may be a very good subject of her Britannic Majesty, but he describes himself as of 42 Beaver Street, New York City, and seems to lose sight of the fact, that his domicile in an enemy's country, for the purposes of trade, makes him, quoad that trade, an enemy. Cargo condemned.

The reader is now in a condition to understand the following criticism, from that very elegant sheet, the New York Commercial Advertiser, and to appreciate the justice and courtesy with which I was treated by the press of New York, generally.

The Alabama. British and Italian property destroyed—Portugal also involved.

The English Authorities Acting.—Important Facts.—Some important facts have just been developed in relation to the operations of the rebel privateer Alabama, and the present and prospective action of the British and other foreign Governments, whose citizens have lost property by the piracies of her commander. The depredations of the vessel involve the rights of no less than three European governments—England, Italy, and Portugal—and are likely to become a subject of special interest to all maritime nations.

Already the capture and burning of the ship Lafayette, which contained an English cargo, has been the occasion of a correspondence between the British Consul at this port, Mr. Archibald, and Rear-Admiral Milne, commanding the British squadron on the American coast; and it is stated (but we cannot vouch for the truth of the statement) that the Admiral has dispatched three warvessels in pursuit of the pirate. The Consul has also, we understand, communicated the facts of the case to the British Government and Her Majesty's Minister at Washington. What action will be taken by the British Government, remains to be seen.

The Lafayette sailed from this port with a cargo of grain for Belfast, Ireland. The grain was owned by two English firms of this city, and the facts were properly certified on the bills of lading [486] under the British national seal. The Lafayette was, however, a Boston vessel, and was commanded by Captain Saunders. The facts of the burning have been published.

But another case (that of the bark Lauretta) is about to be submitted for the consideration of the British authorities, as well as those of Italy and Portugal. The facts establish a clear case of piracy. The Lauretta, which had on board a cargo consisting principally of flour and staves, was burned by Semmes on the 28th of October. She was bound from this port for the island of Madeira and the port of Messina, in Italy. Nearly a thousand barrels of flour and also a large number of staves were shipped by Mr. H. J. Burden, a British subject residing in this city, to a relative in Funchal, Madeira. The bill of lading bore the British seal affixed by the Consul, to whom the shipper was personally known. The other part of the cargo was shipped by Chamberlain, Phelps & Co., to the order of parties in Messina, and this property was also covered by the Italian Consular certificates.

The Portuguese Consul at this port also sent a package under seal, to the authorities at Madeira, besides giving a right to enter the port and sending an open bill of lading.

Captain Wells' account of the manner in which Semmes disposed of these documents, and which he has verified under oath, is not only interesting, but gives an excellent idea of the piratical intentions of the commander of the Alabama.

The papers of the bark were, at the command of Semmes, taken by Captain Wells on board the Alabama. There was no American cargo, and therefore no American papers, except those of the vessel. These, of course, were not inquired into. Semmes took first the packet which bore the Portuguese seal, and with an air which showed that he did not regard it as of the slightest consequence, ripped it open, and threw it upon the floor, with the remark that “he did not care a d—n for the Portuguese.” The Italian bill of lading was treated in a similar manner, except that he considered it unworthy even of a remark.

Taking up the British bill of lading and looking at the seal, Semmes called upon Captain Wells, with an oath, to explain. It was evidently the only one of the three he thought it worth his while to respect.

“Who is this burden?” he inquired sneeringly. “Have you ever seen him?”

“I am not acquainted with him; but I have seen him once, when he came on board my vessel,” replied Captain Wells.

“Is he an Englishman—does he look like an Englishman?”

“Yes,” rejoined the captain.

“I'll tell you what,” exclaimed the pirate, “this is a d—d pretty business—it's a d—d Yankee hash, and I'll settle it,” —whereupon he proceeded to rob the vessel of whatever he wanted, including Captain Wells' property to a considerable amount; put the crew in irons; removed them to the Alabama; and concluded by burning the vessel. [487]

These facts will at once be brought before the British Consul. The preliminary steps have been taken. The facts will also be furnished the Portuguese Consul, who announces his intention of placing them before his Government; and besides whatever action the Italian Consul here may choose to take, the parties in Messina, to whom the property lost on the Lauretta was consigned, will of course do what they can to maintain their own rights. The case is likely to attract more attention than all the previous outrages of the Alabama, inasmuch as property rights of the subjects of other nations are involved, and the real character of Semmes and his crew becomes manifest.

Some interesting facts are given by Captain Wells in regard to the Alabama, to which, however, we can only make a brief allusion. The officers of the privateer are principally Southern men, but the crew are nearly all English and Irish. They claim that they were shipped by stratagem; that they were told the vessel was going to Nassau, and now they are promised shares in captured property— not only the property taken, but that which is burned, of which Semmes says he keeps an accurate account. The bills are to be paid by the “Confederate Government,” which Semmes, who enforces discipline only by terrorism, declares will soon achieve its independence. The men suppose they are gaining fortunes—though some of them protest against the cheat which has been practised upon them.

The above is a fair specimen of the average intelligence of Yankee newspapers, on any subject outside of the dirty pool of politics, in which they habitually dabble. I was not quite sure when I burned the Lafayette, that her cargo belonged to the shippers, British merchants resident in New York. The shippers swore that it did not belong to them, but to other parties resident in Ireland, on whose account they had shipped it. I thought they swore falsely, but, as I have said, I was not quite certain. The ‘Advertiser’ sets the matter at rest. It says that I was right. And it claims, with the most charming simplicity, that I was guilty of an act of piracy, in capturing and destroying the property of neutral merchants, domiciled in the enemy's country, and assisting him to conduct his trade! The reader now sees what estimate to put upon all the other balderdash of the article. I presume, the only thing Admiral Milne, and the British Minister at Washington did, was to wonder at the stupidity of the New York Commercial Advertiser. It is scarcely necessary to say, that Captain Wells of the Lauretta, took a ‘custom-house’ oath, when he swore to the account which the ‘Advertiser’ gives of his interview [488] with me, when I burned his ship. It was a business operation with these Yankees to abuse me, and they performed it in a business-like manner—with oaths and affidavits.

Having captured the Lafayette at nightfall, it was as late as ten P. M. before we got through with the business of ‘robbing’ her—robbing her, in spite of all those nicely contrived certificates, and British consular seals—when we set her on fire. In a few hours, she was a mere beacon-light, upon the sea, marking, as so many other fine ships had marked, the track of the ‘pirate.’ Though I have given the reader already a pretty large dose of the meteorology of the Gulf Stream, in which we are still cruising, I cannot forbear to call his attention to other proofs of the rotary character of the winds which prevail along this hot-water river in the sea. From the 2d to the 22d of October, a period of twenty days, the wind had gone nine times entirely around the compass, with the regularity of clock-work. With the exception of the cyclone of the 16th, we had had no regular gale of wind; though the wind frequently blew very fresh, with the barometer sometimes as low as 29.60. These rotary winds were circles of greater or less diameter, obeying the laws of storms, and travelling along in the direction of the current, or about north-east. There was an interval of only a few hours between them, the barometer rising regularly as one circle or whirl departed, and falling as the next approached. I was much struck with the exceeding regularity of the recurrence of this phenomenon. The received impression is, that it is only the great gales, which we call cyclones, or hurricanes, that gyrate. From my observations in the Gulf Stream—and I lay in it, continuously, for something like a month, changing place, in all this time, but a few hundred miles—gyration is the normal condition of the winds in this stream—that even the most gentle winds, when undisturbed by local causes—the proximity of the land, for instance—are gyrating winds, winding around, and around their respective vortices, against the motion of the sun, as we have seen the tendril of the vine to wind around the pole to which it clings.

On the third day after capturing the Lafayette, having chased and overhauled, in the meantime, a number of neutrals, we descried [489] a large schooner, evidently American, bound to the southward, and eastward. We gave chase at once, but as the schooner was to windward of us, a considerable distance, the chase promised to be long, without the aid of steam, and this, for reasons already explained, I was averse to using, though we kept, at all times, banked fires in the furnaces, and warm water in the boilers. The stranger hugged his wind very closely, this being always the best point of sailing with schooners; but this was also the best point of sailing with the Alabama. The reader has seen, that she always put on her seven-league boots, when she had a chance of drawing aft the sheets of those immense trysails of hers. We gained perceptibly, but the wind was falling light, and it was to be feared night would overtake us, before we could bring the chase within reach of our guns. She was still good four miles to windward of us, when I resolved to try the effect of a solid shot from my rifled pivot, on the forecastle. Elevating the gun some ten degrees, we let fly the bolt. It threw up the water in a beautiful jet, within less than half a mile of her! It was enough. The schooner came to the wind, with the Federal colors at her masthead, and awaited our approach. Upon being boarded, she proved to be the Crenshaw, three days out from New York, and bound for Glasgow, in Scotland.

The Crenshaw was grain-laden, though rather small for a member of the ‘junk fleet,’ and there was the usual number of certificates, and British consular seals on board of her, vouching, upon good Yankee oaths, that her cargo was neutral. It was amusing to see how these merchants clung to the British seal, and appealed to the British power, when their grain sacks were in danger. But it was all to no purpose. I would have respected scrupulously any bona fide neutral ownership of property, but I knew all these certificates to be fraudulent. Fraudulent as the transactions were, however, some of the shippers might have imposed upon me, if they had only known how to prepare their vouchers. But they were such bunglers, that they committed the most glaring mistakes. The New York merchant is a pretty sharp fellow, in the matter of shaving paper, getting up false invoices, and ‘doing’ the custom-house; but the laws of nations, which had had little connection, heretofore, [490] with the debit and credit side of his ledger, rather muddled his brain. The Crenshaw's certificates were precisely like so many others I had, by this time, overhauled. They simply stated, that the cargo belonged to ‘subjects of her Britannic Majesty,’ without naming them. To quote the certificates literally, they were in these terms: ‘The goods specified, in the annexed bills of lading, were shipped on board the schooner Crenshaw, for, and on account of subjects of her Britannic Majesty, and the said goods are wholly, and bonafide, the property of British subjects.’ And when I came to look at the bills of lading, I found that the property was consigned to the order of the shippers. Here was evidently another of those ‘Yankee hashes,’ spoken of by the New York Commercial Advertiser; or, if it was not a Yankee hash, it was an English hash, gotten up by some ‘subjects of her Britannic Majesty,’ who were resident merchants in the enemy's country— whose property the aforesaid ‘Advertiser’ so innocently thought was not subject to capture. For aught that appeared from the certificates, the ‘subjects’ were all resident in New York. And so we did the usual amount of ‘plundering’ on board the Crenshaw, and then consigned her to the flames.

From papers captured on board this vessel, we learned that the New York Chamber of Commerce—whose leading spirit seemed to be a Mr. Low, one or two of whose ships, if I mistake not, I had burned—was in a glow of indignation. Its resolutions were exceedingly eloquent. This Chamber of Commerce was a sort of debating society, which by no means confined itself to mere commerce, as its name would seem to imply, but undertook to regulate the affairs of the Yankee nation, generally, and its members had consequently become orators. The words ‘privateer,’ ‘pirate,’ ‘robbery,’ and ‘plunder,’ and other blood-and-thunder expressions, ran through their resolutions in beautiful profusion. These resolutions were sent to Mr. Seward, and that renowned statesman sat down, forthwith, and wrote a volume of despatches to Mr. Adams, in London, about the naughty things that the ‘British Pirate’ was doing in American waters. The Alabama, said he, was burning everything, right and left, even British property; would the Lion stand it?

Another set of resolutions was sent to Mr. Welles, the Fede [491] ral Secretary of the Navy, and that old gentleman put all the telegraph wires in motion, leading to the different sea-port towns; and the wires put in motion a number of gunboats which were to hurry off to the banks of Newfoundland and capture the Alabama. Whilst these gunboats were going from New York to cruise among the cod-fishermen and icebergs, the Alabama was jogging along, under easy sail, toward New York. We kept ourselves, all the time, in the track of commerce; what track the gunboats,—some of which only mounted a couple of guns, and would have been very shy of falling in with the Alabama,—took, to look for us, we never knew, as we did not see any of them.

On the day after capturing the Crenshaw, we observed in latitude 39° 47′, and longitude 68° 06′. Being near the edge of St. George's Bank, off the coast of New England, we sounded with eighty-five fathoms of line, but got no bottom. Here another gale of wind overtook us; the barometer descending as low as 29.33, at the height of the gale. On the next day, the 28th of October, the weather being still rough, we captured the bark Lauretta, of which the veracious Captain Wells was master, and of which the reader has already had some account. The Lauretta was skirting St. George's Bank, on her way to Madeira and the Mediterranean, and literally ran into our arms. We had no other trouble than to heave her to, with a gun, as she approached, and send a boat on board, and take possession of her; transferring her crew to the Alabama, with as much dispatch as possible, and ‘robbing’ Captain Wells, as he states—by which he means, probably, that we deprived him of his chronometer and nautical instruments; for the mere personal effects of a prisoner, as the reader has already been informed, were never disturbed. We burned the ship.

On the next day, the weather being thick and rainy, and the Alabama being about two hundred miles from New York, we chased and captured the brig Baron de Castine, from Bangor, in Maine, and bound, with a load of lumber, to Cardenas, in the island of Cuba. This vessel being old, and of little value, I released her on ransom-bond, and sent her into New York, with my prisoners, of whom I had now a large number [492] on board. I charged the master of this ship, to give my special thanks to Mr. Low, of the New York Chamber of Commerce, for the complimentary resolutions he had had passed, in regard to the Alabama. The more the enemy abused me, the more I felt complimented, for it is ‘the galled jade only that winces.’ There must have been a merry mess in the cabin of the Baron that night, as there were the masters and mates of three burned ships. New York was ‘all agog’ when the Baron arrived, and there was other racing and chasing after the ‘pirate,’ as I afterward learned.

The engineer having now reported to me, that we had no more than about four days of fuel on board, I resolved to withdraw from the American coast, run down into the West Indies, to meet my coal ship, and renew my supply. Being uncertain, in the commencement of my career, as to the reception I should meet with, in neutral ports, and fearing that I might have difficulty in procuring coal in the market, I had arranged, with my ever-attentive co-laborer, Captain Bullock, when we parted off Terceira, to have a supply-ship sent out to me, from time to time, as I should indicate to him the rendezvous. The island of Martinique was to be the first rendezvous, and it was thither accordingly that we were now bound. This resolution was taken on the 30th of October, and shaping our course, and making sail accordingly, we soon crossed the southern edge of the Gulf Stream, and were in a comparatively desert track of the ocean. Our sinews were once more relaxed, and we had a few days of the dolce far niente. The weather became fine, as we proceeded southward, and the sailors, throwing aside their woollen garments, were arrayed again in their duck frocks and trousers. Our mornings were spent in putting the ship in order, preparatory to going into port, and in exercising the crew at the battery, and the evenings were given up to amusement. Great inroads had been made, by the continuous bad weather of the Gulf Stream, on both duty and pleasure. Sometimes a week or ten days would elapse, during which it would not be possible to cast loose a heavy gun, for exercise; and evening after evening passed in drenching rain and storm, when not so much as a note on the violin was heard or even a song. The men were, however, [493] cheerful and obedient, were as much excited as ever by the chase and the capture, and were fast becoming a well-disciplined crew. If there was any of that discontent, spoken of by Captain Wells, it was not visible to the eyes of the officers. Our numbers had been considerably increased, by recruits from the enemy's ships, and we now had men enough to man all our guns, which added considerably to our sense of security. The young officers had gained much experience in the handling of their ship, and I began in consequence to sleep more soundly in my cot, at night, when the weather was dark and stormy.

On the 2d of November, when we were scarcely expecting it, we captured another of the enemy's ships. She was descried from the mast-head, about half-past 8 in the morning, and we immediately gave chase. It was Sunday, and the muster-hour coming on, we mustered the crew, and read the Articles of War in the midst of the chase. We came up with the stranger about noon, with the United States colors at our peak, and upon firing a gun, the fugitive hoisted the same colors, and hove to. She proved to be the Levi Starbuck, a whaler, out of New Bedford, and bound on a voyage of thirty months, to the Pacific Ocean. Here was another store-ship for us, with plenty of provisions, slops, and small stores. Getting on board from her such articles as we stood in need of, and removing the crew, we burned her about nightfall.

Her New Bedford papers were only four days old, with the latest news from the ‘seat of war.’ The two armies were watching each other on the Potomac, and additional gun-boats had been sent ‘in pursuit of the Alabama.’ In the meantime, the Alabama was approaching another track of commerce, across which she intended to run, on her way to Martinique —the track of the homeward-bound East India ships of the enemy.

Toward midnight of the 7th of November, we descried a schooner, standing to the southward, to which we gave chase. She had heels, as well as the Alabama, and when day dawned she was still some distance from us, though we had gained on her considerably. But fortune came to her rescue, for very soon, a large ship, looming up on the horizon like a frigate, [494] came in sight, steering to the north-west. She was under all sail, with studding-sails, and sky-scrapers set, and Evans, having been sent for, pronounced her ‘Yankee.’ The small craft was probably Yankee, too, but we were like a maiden choosing between lovers—we could not have both—and so we took the biggest prize, as maidens often do in a similar conjuncture. The large ship was standing in our direction, and we had nothing to do, but await her approach. When she came sufficiently near to distinguish our colors, we showed her the stars and stripes, which she was apparently very glad to see, for she began, of her own accord, to shorten sail, as she neared us, evidently with the intention of speaking us, and getting, it might be, a welcome newspaper from ‘home.’ The stars and stripes were, by this time, flying from her own peak. She was terribly astonished, as her master afterward confessed, when the jaunty little gun-boat, which he had eyed with so much pleasure, believing her to be as good a Yankee as himself, fired a gun, and hauling down ‘hate's polluted rag,’ hoisted, in its stead, the banner of the Southern Republic.

The stranger had not much more to do, in order to surrender himself a prisoner. His studding-sails had already been hauled down, and he now hauled up his courses, and backed his mainyard. We were once more in gentle airs, and a smooth sea; and in a few minutes, the boarding-officer was alongside of him. She proved to be as we had expected, an East India trader. She was the T. B. Wales, of Boston, from Calcutta, for Boston, with a cargo consisting chiefly of jute, linseed, and saltpetre. Of the latter, she had 1700 bags, sufficient to supply our pious Boston brethren, who were fighting for nothing but ‘grand moral ideas,’ with a considerable quantity of powder. But for the Wales meeting with the Alabama, it would, probably, have gone into some of the same Yankee mills, which, just before the war broke out, had supplied the Confederate States under the contracts which, as the reader has seen, I had made with them. The jute, which she had on board, was intended as a substitute for cotton, in some of the coarser fabrics; the Boston people being somewhat pressed, at the period, for the Southern staple.

The captain of the Wales, though a Northern man, had very [495] few of the ear-marks of the Yankee skipper about him. He was devoid of the raw-bone angularity which characterizes most of them, and spoke very good English, through his mouth, instead of his nose. His pronunciation and grammar were both good—quite an unusual circumstance among his class. He had been five months on his voyage, and, of course, had not heard of any such craft as the Alabama. He had quite a domestic establishment on board his ship, as, besides his own wife, who had accompanied him on the voyage, there was an ex-United States Consul, with his wife and three small daughters, returning with him, as passengers, to the New England States.

There was no attempt to cover the cargo of the Wales, and I was glad to find, that it was consigned to, and probably owned by, the obnoxious house of the Barings, in Boston, whose ship, the Neapolitan, I had burned, in the Strait of Gibraltar. This British house had rendered itself exceedingly active, during the war, in the Federal interest, importing large quantities of arms, and otherwise aiding the enemy; and I took especial pleasure, therefore, in applying the torch to its property. It was one of the New York Commercial Advertiser's pets—being a neutral house, domiciled in an enemy's country, for the purposes of trade. I have not heard what Admiral Milne and the British Minister at Washington did, when they heard of the burning of the Wales, or whether the ‘Advertiser’ invoked, anew, the protection of the British lion. A few hours sufficed to transfer the crew and passengers of the East-Indiaman to the Alabama, and to get on board from her, some spars of which we were in want. It was found, upon measurement, that her main-yard was almost of the precise dimensions of that of the Alabama, and as ours had been carried away in the cyclone of the 16th of October, and had only been fished for temporary use, we got down the yard from the Wales, and brought it on board.

We treated the ladies—our first prisoners of the sex— with all due consideration, of course; but I was forced to restrict them in the matter of baggage and furniture, for the want of room. I permitted them to bring on board their entire wardrobes, of course, without permitting it to be examined, [496] but was forced to consign to the flames some fancy chairs and other articles of East India workmanship, which they seemed to prize very highly. I dare say they thought hard of it, at the time, though, I doubt not, they have long since forgiven me. Both ladies were gentle. The Consul's wife was an Englishwoman, the daughter of a general in the British army, serving in the Mauritius, where her husband had met and married her. She was refined and educated, of course, and her three little daughters were very beautiful children. Mr. George H. Fairchild—for such was her husband's name—though a New-Englander, was, apparently, an unbigoted gentleman, and observed all the gentlemanly proprieties, during his stay on board my ship.

When I was arrested, after the war, by the Administration of President Johnson, in violation of the contract which the Government had made with me, at my surrender, and threatened with a trial, by one of those Military Commissions which have disgraced American civilization, on the trumped-up charge, among others, of cruelty to prisoners, Mr. Fairchild was kind enough to write to me, in prison, and tender himself as a witness in my behalf. In the then state of New England feeling, with all the passions, and especially those of malignity, and hate, running riot through the land, it required moral courage to do this; and I take this opportunity of thanking a New England man, for obeying the instincts of a Christian and a gentleman.

It took us some time to despoil the Wales of such of her spars and rigging as we wanted, and it was near nightfall when we applied the torch to her. We had scarcely turned away from the burning prize, when another sail was discovered, in the fading twilight, but the darkness soon shutting her out from view, it was useless to attempt to chase. The Wales was one of the most useful of my captures. She not only served as a sort of ship-yard, in enabling me to repair the damages I had suffered in the Gulf Stream, but I received eight recruits from her, all of whom were fine, able-bodied seamen. My crew now numbered 110 men—120 being my full complement. I bestowed the ladies, with their husbands, upon the ward-room mess, consigning them to the care of my gallant friend, Kell. [497] Some of the lieutenants were turned out of their state-rooms, for their accommodation, but being carpet knights, as well as knights of the lance, they submitted to the discomfort with becoming grace.

My menage began now to assume quite a domestic air. I had previously captured another interesting prisoner, who was still on board—not having been released on parole. This prisoner was a charming little canary-bird, which had been brought on board from a whaler, in its neat gilded cage. Bartelli had the wonderful art, too, of supplying me with flowers —brought from the shore when this was practicable, and when not practicable, raised in his own tiny pots. When I would turn over in my cot, in the morning, for another nap, in that dim consciousness which precedes awakening, I would listen, in dreamy mood, to the sweet notes of the canary, the pattering of the tiny feet of the children and their gleeful voices over my head; inhaling, the while, the scent of the geranium, or the jessamine, and forgot all about war's alarms. ‘Home, Sweet Home,’ with all its charms, would cluster around my imagination, and as my slumber deepened, putting reason to rest, and giving free wing to fancy, I would be clasping again the long-absent dear ones to my heart. Bartelli's shake of my cot, and his announcement that it was ‘seven bells’—halfpast seven, which was my hour for rising—would often be a rude dispeller of such fancies whilst the Fairchilds were on board.

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