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2. Captain Semmes, C. S. A. N. June 19, 1864.

Out of Cherbourg harbor, one clear
Sunday morning, the cavalier,
Captain Semmes, with his cap a-cock,
Sailed from the friendly Frenchman's dock.
Gaily along the rebel came,
Under the flag of the cross of shame;
Knight of the handcuff and bloody lash,
He twirled the point of his red moustache,
And swore, in English not over nice,
To sink our Yankee scum in a trice,
Or burn our ship, as the thing might be,
Where the eyes of Cherbourg all should see.
“Heigh-ho! you don't say so!”
Whispered his friend, little Jean Crapeau.

Semmes has been a wolf of the deep
For many a day to harmless sheep;
Ships he scuttled and robbed and burned,
Watches pilfered and pockets turned;
And all his plunder, bonds, and gold,
He left for his Gallic friend to hold.
A little over prudent was he
For a cavalier of high degree;
And Raphael Semmes don't sound, indeed,
As if it came of the purple seed;
But all the blood in his veins was blue,
And his clay was porcelain through and through.
Heigh-ho! the Lord doth know
We are but dirt, and our blood's so-so.

What will the doughty Captain do
With his British ship, his British crew,
His gunners, trained in the “Excellent,”
The guns his cousin Blakeley sent,
His shot and shell at Woolwich made,
What will he do with the whole parade?
Up to the top of his cliffs Crapeau
Had clambered to see the Sunday show;
And his brother Bull, in lis fancy yacht,
Stood off and on toward the fated spot;
And right across the bold Captain's way
The Kearsarge steamed in her war array.
“Heigh-ho!” said Semmes, “Let's blow
That craft to splinters before we go.”

Semmes had heard, with his lip a-curl,
In Cherbourg, that some Northern churl,
Backed by a gang of onion-eaters,
Waited the noble negro-beaters.
Shop-keeping, peddling, vulgar knaves,
To stick their heads into open graves!
“‘S death! ‘S wounds! ‘Ods bodikins! Ha what then,
Will they dare to fight with gentlemen?
Oh! had I my lance and shield and things,
With which I tilted at Sulphur Springs!
Or a troop of horse marines! Of course,
A knight is nothing without his horse.”
Heigh-ho! this seemed to show
Our hero's spirits were running low.

[2] Straight out to sea the Kearsarge drew,
And Semmes, who followed all that flew,
Followed, perhaps by some mistake,
Close in his foeman's frothing wake;
But when three leagues were gained from shore,
Slowly and grimly the Yankee wore;
And our starry ensign leaped above,
Round which the wind, like a fluttering dove,
Cooed low, and the sunshine of God's day
Like an open blessing on it lay;
So we felt our friendless ship would fight
Full under the great Disposer's sight.
Heigh-ho! 'tis well to know
Who looks on the deeds done here below.

Semmes led the waltz and struck the tune:
Shots at the sea and at the moon
The swashing, wasteful cavalier,
Scattered around him far and near.
The saving Yankees squandered not
An ounce of powder or pound of shot.
They held their peace till the guns would tell,
Then out they burst like the mouths of hell.
Terrible, horrible! how they tore
The Alabama, until the gore
From her bursting scuppers smoked and streamed,
The dying groaned and the wounded screamed!
“Heigh-ho!” said Semmes, “let's show
The Yankees the heels we boast of so.”

Seven times in that deadly round
Sped the ships to the cannon's sound.
The vulture, through the smoke and din,
Saw the eagle's circles narrowing in;
And every time her pivots roared
The fatal bomb-shells came straight aboard.
His helm was useless, his engine failed,
His powder was wet, his Britons quailed;
And in his course, like a warning hand,
Stretched forth the flag of his outraged land.
In vain he hoisted his sails to flee;
For each foot he sailed, his foe sailed three.
Heigh-ho! “Why, here's a blow,”
Said Semmes, as he hauled his flag below.

Well was it for the cavalier,
That brother Bull was lying near.
His vessel with a haughty curl
Turned up her nose, and in the whirl
Of the white sea, stern foremost, tore
As if in scorn of the crew she bore.
Then the thrifty Briton launched his boat,
To pick up aught that might be afloat,
And amongst other less precious spoil,
Fished swordless Semmes from his watery coil!
“Hide me!” the gallant cried in affright;
“Cover me up from the Yankee's sight.”
Heigh-ho! they laid him low,
With a bit of sail to hide his woe.

Safely they bore the chief aboard,
Leaving behind his fame and sword;
And then the Deerhound stole away,
Lest Winslow's guns might have a say;
Landed him in Southampton town,
Where heroes like him have had renown,
Ever since Lawrence, Perry, and Hull,
Took hold of the horns of great John Bull.
Had I been Winslow, I say to you,
As the sea is green, the sky is blue,
Through the Deerhound I'd have sent a shot,
And John might have liked the thing or not I
Heigh-ho! come soon or slow,
In the end we are bound to have a blow.

What said the Frenchman from his hill,
After the cannon-shots were still?
What said the Briton from his deck,
Gazing down on the sunken wreck?
Something was said of guns like mortars,
And something of smooth-bores at close quarters;
Chain armor furnished a word or two,
But the end of all was both looked blue.
They sighed again o'er the “Great Contention,”
But never hinted at “Intervention.”
One thing they wished, which they dared not say,
“If the fight had but gone the other way!
Heigh-ho! I told you so!
Oh! Semmes was a sorry fool to go!”

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Cherbourg (France) (2)
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Raphael Semmes (12)
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