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Raphael Semmes, Memoirs of Service Afloat During the War Between the States 14 0 Browse Search
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-mast, and in a few minutes afterward, the great main-mast tottered, reeled, and fell over the ship's side into the sea, making a noise like that of the sturdy oak of the forests when it falls by the stroke of the axeman By the light of this flambeau, upon the lonely and silent sea, lighted of the passions of bad men who should have been our brothers, the Sumter, having aroused herself from her dream of vengeance, and run up her boats, moved forward on her course. The captain of the Golden Rocket watched the destruction of his ship from the quarter-deck of the Sumter, apparently with the calm eye of a philosopher, though, doubtless, he felt the emotions which the true sailor always feels, when he looks upon the dying agonies of his beloved ship, whether she be broken up by the storm, or perish in any other way. The flag! what was done with the old flag? It was marked with the day, and the latitude and longitude of the capture, and consigned to the keeping of the signal quart
Chapter 13: Rapid work seven prizes in two days. the Sumter makes her first port, and what occurred there. We burned the Golden Rocket, as has been seen, on the 3d of July. The next day was the glorious Fourth— once glorious, indeed, as the day on which a people broke the chains of a government which had bound them against their will, and vindicated the principle of self-government as an inalienable right; but since desecrated by the same people, who have scorned, and spat upies were tabooed. The cargoes of these small vessels being neutral, as certified by the papers—and indeed of this there could be little doubt, as they were going from one neutral port to another—I could not burn the vessels as I had done the Golden Rocket, and so after transferring prize crews to them, which occupied us an hour or two, we took them both in tow, and steamed away for Cienfuegos—it being my intention to test the disposition of Spain toward us, in this matter of taking in prizes.
not so constantly fresh, within the last few days. Having taken sights for our chronometers, on the morning after our arrival, and again to-day, I have been enabled to verify their rates. They are running very well. The chronometer of the Golden Rocket proves to be a good instrument. We fix the longitude of Curacoa to be 68° 58′ 80″, west of Greenwich. July 24th.—Sky occasionally obscured, with a moderate trade-wind. Our men have all returned from their visits to the shore, except one,nd that I only resorted to this practice, when it became evident that there was nothing else to be done. Not that I had not the right to burn them, under the laws of war, when there was no dispute about the property— as was the case with the Golden Rocket, she having had no cargo on board—but because I desired to avoid all possible complication with neutrals. Having dispatched the Bradford, we got under way, in the Sumter, to continue our cruise. We had scarcely gotten clear of the har
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 e
er under a wealth of grain. But those fields would be the fields of the enemy; or if it did not fertilize his fields, its sale would pour a stream of gold into his coffers; and it was my business upon the high seas, to cut off, or dry up this stream of gold. The torch followed the examination of the papers. The reader may, perhaps, by this time have remarked, how fond the Yankees had become of the qualifying adjective, golden, as a prefix to the names of their ships. I had burned the Golden Rocket, the Golden Rule, and the Golden Eagle. We were now in latitude 30°, and longitude 40°, and if the curious reader will refer to a map, or chart of the North Atlantic Ocean, he will see that we are on the charmed crossing, leading to the coast of Brazil. By crossing is meant the point at which the ship's course crosses a given parallel of latitude. We must not, for instance, cross the thirtieth parallel, going southward, until we have reached a certain meridian —say that of 40° W. I