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Chapter 33:

  • Sherman's campaign in Georgia the important correspondent of Grant's in Virginia.
  • -- the “on to Richmond,” and the “on to Atlanta,” the two important movements of 1864. -- Sherman's demand of numbers. -- Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's command. -- he proposes an offensive movement. -- is balked by Bragg at Richmond. -- statement of Johnston's forces on 1st May. -- Johnston's policy of retreat. -- he proposes to fight at Cassville; but is overruled by Hood and Hardee. -- he crosses the Etowah. -- engagement at New hope Church. -- battle of Kenesaw Mountain. -- Sherman's ghastly experiment. -- he resorts to maneuvering. -- Johnston retires to Atlanta -- the situation around Atlanta. -- defeat of Sturgis' column in North Mississippi. -- Johnston master of the situation. -- wonderful success of his retreat. -- he holds Sherman suspended for destruction. -- naval fight in Mobile Bay. -- a match of 212 guns against 22. -- how the gunboats Selma and Morgan fought the enemy. -- gallant fight of the iron-clad Tennessee. -- surrender of the forts in the harbour. -- little value of Farragut's conquest. -- excessive laudation of him in the North. -- sinking of the Confederate privateer Alabama. -- review of the result of the privateering service of the Confederates. -- a glance at British “neutrality.” -- how Earl Russell was bullied by the Washington Government. -- the story of the Lairds' rams. -- cruise of the Alabama. -- why she fought the Kearsarge off the French coast. -- Capt. Semmes' motives for a naval duel. -- the Alabama sinking. -- the Federal vessel sends no relief. -- Mr. Seward's little remark about “pirates.” -- discovery of concealed armour on the Kearsarge. -- how the Richmond editors would have treated Capt. Winslow. -- a curious anecdote of Admiral Farragut. -- capture of the privateer Florida. -- the exploit of Napoleon Collins in a neutral port. -- he attempts to sink and then steals the Confederate vessel. -- the New York Herald and “the pages of history.” -- invasion of Missouri by Gen. Price. -- how and why it failed. -- the Trans-Mississippi sunk out of sight in the war

The important correspondent of Grant's campaign in Virginia was that of Sherman in Georgia; the great military effort of 1864 being resolved into two important movements: the “On-to-richmond,” and the “On-to-atlanta.” These grand movements were on different sides of the Alleghany mountains; a thousand miles of distance intervened between them; but both concurred in the design of attempting deep operations in the South, and reaching what were deemed vital points of the Confederacy. [540]

Gen. Sherman demanded what Federal commanders invariably named as the condition of their success against the brave Confederate armies-vastly superiour numbers. Questions of generalship, skill and courage were concerns for the Confederates. Sherman did not discuss these; he wanted physical momentum; he demanded a hundred thousand men and two hundred and fifty pieces of artillery. The lavish government at Washington supplied the demand, minus twelve hundred men. Three armies were united under Sherman, viz.: the army of the Cumberland, Maj.-Gen. Thomas commanding; the army of the Tennessee, Maj.-Gen. McPherson commanding; and the army of the Ohio, Maj.-Gen. Schofield commanding. The effective strength of these three armies was 98,797 men, and two hundred and fifty-four guns.

Fortunately for the Confederacy the military genius of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston had been called again, although unwillingly, into service by President Davis, who had displaced Bragg from the Army of Tennessee only after he had accomplished a complete sum of disaster, and capped his career of misfortune on Missionary Ridge. On the 27th December, 1863, Gen. Johnston had assumed command of the army at Dalton, Georgia. In January he had fallen back from Dalton, and his advanced posts; on the 7th February he was encamped at Rome, Georgia; but he again advanced to Dalton shortly afterwards, and proposed then an offensive movement against the enemy,whose strength he knew would be greatly increased in the spring, and who, therefore, could be attacked with better advantage before such increase of the disproportion of numbers. Gen. Johnston knew very well that he could not expect reinforcements at pace with the enemy, and was, therefore, wisely determined to make at once a forward movement and try issues with him as soon as possible. But a most untimely controversy in Richmond defeated Johnston's just and promising plan of operations. Gen. Bragg had been removed from command of the army he had so disastrously led, to take the post, by the persistent partiality of President Davis, of “consulting or advising officer” to the Executive. The favourite in Richmond had his own plan of offensive operations differing from that of Johnston; President Davis agreed with him. Gen. Johnston, in vain, telegraphed to Richmond: “I expressly accept taking the offensive — I only differ with you as to details” ; but the discussion of “details” lingered in Richmond, until, when in the month of April the President sent a messenger to Georgia to explain his plans, the opportunity of the offensive was past, the enemy was being reinforced to more than twice Johnston's number, and was only waiting for the signal from over the Alleghanies to commence the “On-to-atlanta” movement.

On the 1st May, the effective artillery and infantry of the Army of Tennessee amounted to 40,900; the effective cavalry to about four thousand. Gen. Johnston was thus greatly overmatched in numbers; and he [541] had no prospect of compensation, but in superiour skill and strategy But the condition of his army was excellent in every respect, and had been made so by the admirable skill and inspiration he had brought to the work of its regeneration. It was well-fed, well-clad, in high and hopeful spirits; and for the first time in its history there was no barefoot soldier in its ranks. Ninety days before, the army left by Bragg was disheartened, despairing, and on the verge of dissolution. By judicious measures Gen. Johnston had restored confidence, re-established discipline, and exalted the hearts of his army. There was reason now to hope that the Army of Tennessee, the most ill-starred and successless of all our armies, had seen its worst days.

In the first days of May, simultaneous with the onward movement of Grant in Virginia, Sherman began his grand march into Georgia. The Federal advance was in three columns-Thomas moving in front, direct upon Johnston's centre at Dalton, with his advance at Ringgold and Tunnel Hill; Schofield from Cleveland thirty miles northeast of Chattanooga, via Red Clay, on the Georgia line, to unite with Thomas; and McPherson, by a flank movement of some forty or fifty miles upon Johnston's lines of communications at Resaca, a station on the Western and Atlantic railroad, at the crossing of the Oostanaula river, eighty-four miles from Atlanta, and fifteen miles south of Dalton.,

The flank movement on Resaca forced Johnston to evacuate Dalton. On the 14th May, having moved to Resaca, he sustained, with perfect success, two attacks of the enemy on his breastworks, and drove him with a loss of two thousand men. But Johnston did not design to fight here; he determined to fall back slowly until circumstances should put the chances of battle in his favour, and he hoped by taking advantage of positions and opportunities to reduce the odds against him by partial engagements. In pursuance of this characteristic policy, he took up at leisure his line of retrograde movement in the direction of the Etowah River, passing through Kingston and Cassville.

In rear of Cassville Gen. Johnston had proposed to deliver a decisive battle, taking position on a bold ridge with an open valley before it. Two of his corps commanders, however-Polk and Hood-questioned the value of the position against the enemy's artillery, flatly declared their distrust, and were for abandoning the ground immediately. “So unwilling were they,” writes Gen. Johnston, “to depend on the ability of their corps to defend the ground, that I yielded, and the army crossed the Etowall on the 20th of May--a step which I have regretted ever since.” He had reason to regret it. While lie retreated towards Allatoona Pass, a division of Thomas' army was sent to Rome, capturing it with its forts and artillery, and its valuable mills and foundries. Meanwhile Sherman pressed steadily on for Dallas with a view of turning the difficult pass at Allatoona. [542]

On the 25th the Federal advance under Hooker struck Stewart's division at the New Hope Church, and a hot engagement of two hours ensued. The next two days there was constant skirmishing and fighting. Late in afternoon of the 27th, Cleburne's division assaulted McPherson at Dallas and left six hundred of the enemy's dead on the field. But these sharp encounters were of little significance; for it was evidently not Sherman's intention to make a great battle, and risk dashing his army to pieces in trying to force the pass at Allatoona. He was merely developing his lines for a movement on Johnston's flank; and when, on the 30th of May, his left had reached the railroad near Marietta, Johnston had no other choice than to abandon his position at New Hope Church, and retreat to the strong positions of Kenesaw, Pine and Lost Mountains.

Battle of Kenesaw Mountain.

These natural battlements covered the railroad back to the Chattahoochie river. On the 19th June the disposition of Johnston's forces was: Hood's corps with its right on the Marietta and Canton road, Loring's on the Kenesaw Mountain, and Hardee's, with its left extending across the Lost Mountain, and the Marietta road. Subsequently Cheatham's and Cleburne's divisions of Hardee's corps were moved up to Kenesaw Mountain, which was properly the apex of Johnston's lines.

On the 27th June Sherman attempted an assault by McPherson and Thomas on Johnston's left centre on Kenesaw Mountain. The battle was but the slaughter of thousands of his men. They never came in contact with the Confederate works; they were swept by a fiery torrent of shot and shell; and when the attack was withdrawn more than three thousand of the enemy were scattered over the rugged ground, dead or bleeding. On the Confederate side, Cheatham's division lost one hundred and ninety-five men, while two thousand of the enemy were killed and wounded in his front. In Cleburne's division the loss was eleven; that in Loring's whole corps two hundred and thirty-six; while on this part of the line the loss of the enemy was more than a thousand. Of this ghastly experiment Gen. Sherman was satisfied to write: “Failure as it was, and for which I assume the entire responsibility, I yet claim it produced great fruits, as it demonstrated to Gen. Johnston that I would assault, and that boldly.”

After his repulse at Kenesaw Mountain, Sherman again resorted to maneuvering. On the night of the 2d July, he commenced moving his army by the left flank, and on the morning of the 3d found that Johnston, in consequence of this movement, had abandoned Kenesaw, and retreated across the Chattahoochie. He remained on the Chattahoochie to give his men rest and get up stores, until the 17th July, when he resumed operations, crossed the river, and established his lines within eight miles of Atlanta. Peach-Tree Creek and the river below its mouth was now taken [543] by Johnston for his line of defence; the immediate fortifications of Atlanta were strengthened; and the two armies now confronted each other in what was unmistakably the crisis of the Georgia campaign.

To this point the incidents of the campaign had all been in favour of the Confederates. The engagements at Resaca, New Hope Church, and Kenesaw Mountain, had been all Confederate victories. In connection, too, with the campaign, Gen. Forrest had achieved a brilliant success in Northern Mississippi, and intercepting at Guntown, on the 10th June, an expedition under Sturgis on its way from Memphis to protect and operate in Sherman's rear, had driven it back in utter rout and confusion, and hotly pursued it a distance of a hundred miles, taking two thousand prisoners, and killing and wounding an equal number. This stroke uncovered Sherman's rear, and left him a hundred and thirty-five miles in the interiour of Georgia, in constant dread that cavalry might get upon his line, and destroy it beyond the possibility of further use. The situation was all that Gen. Johnston had anticipated; all that he wished for. Hie had performed all the conditions of the campaign he had proposed to himself; he had now “got the chances of battle in his favour ;” he had “reduced the odds against him by partial engagements ;” he had brought his army to Atlanta, after inflicting a loss upon the enemy five times as great as his own; and he had performed the almost marvellous feat of conducting a retreat through a difficult and mountainous country more than a hundred miles in extent, without the loss of materiel or of a single gun. Gen. Johnston held Atlanta more firmly than Lee held Richmond. Sherman was unable to invest the city, and to withdraw he would have to pass over a single road, one hundred and thirty-five miles long, traversing a wild and broken country. Johnston held him as it were suspended for destruction. The situation was brilliant for the Confederates. A pause had now been given to the parallel operations of the enemy in Virginia and Georgia--the one aimed at Richmond, the other at Atlanta ;--both movements were now unmistakably in check; and intelligent men among the ranks of the enemy did not hesitate to declare that it was only necessary for the Confederates to maintain the situation at each point to put Northern patience to the last proof, and compel a peace.

In this interesting condition we must leave the great campaign of 1864 on the dominant lines in Virginia and Georgia, to make a rapid narrative of other events of the war, including certain successes of the enemy on the water, and some detached operations important enough to draw attention after them.

The naval events of 1864 may be briefly summed up as a battle in Mobile Bay; the destruction of the Confederate privateer Alabama, and the capture of her most efficient ally, the Florida. We shall discuss these in the order of their importance.


Naval fight in Mobile Bay.

The enemy had long contemplated the possession of Mobile Bay guarded at its entrance by two imposing fortifications. Here was a difficult point to blockade; here was a nursery of the Confederate navy; and here vessels were already being constructed for raising the blockade.

In the latter part of July, Gen. Canby sent Maj.-Gen. Gordon Granger, with such forces as he could collect, to co-operate with Admiral Farragut against the defences of Mobile Bay. On the 5th August the Federal fleet, numbering fourteen steamers and four monitors, carrying in all more than two hundred guns, and manned by twenty-eight hundred men, moved steadily up the main ship-channel into Mobile Bay. Having once passed Fort Morgan, this huge armada had to encounter a Confederate naval force composed of one iron-clad — the ram Tennessee-and three wooden vessels.

The Brooklyn took the lead of the enemy's fleet in passing Fort Morgan, keeping up such a broadside fire on its batteries that the guns of the fort were almost silenced. But another danger had to be run; and as the fleet moved grandly on, a torpedo exploded beneath the iron-clad Tecumseh, and in a moment she had disappeared beneath the waves, carrying down with her her commander and nearly all her crew. As the fleet got past the fort, the ram Tennessee dashed out at the Hartford, Farragut's flagship, but finding her starboard side completely protected by the Monitors, was unable to reach her, and was content with an exchange of harmless fire.

The three Confederate gunboats, the Morgan, Gaines and Selma were ahead, the latter pouring a raking fire into the enemy's fleet. The enemy passed up to a pocket of deep water, where he bore off somewhat to the westward, and appeared to be collecting his fleet. About this time the Gaines was disabled, and forced to retire in a sinking condition. The Morgan and Selma continued to fire into the Hartford and Brooklyn, the leading vessels of the enemy. The Metacomet, which had up to this time been lashed to the port-side of the Hartford, was now cast off, and steamed forward in the direction of the Selma and Morgan, the fire from the enemy's fleet having ceased.

The Metacomet was a wooden gunboat, mounting ten heavy guns; and the Morgan and Selma were also wooden gunboats, the former carrying six and the latter four heavy guns. At this time the Confederate flagship Tennessee, with Admiral Buchanan on board, was in the neighbourhood of Fort Gaines, beyond signal distance of the Morgan and Selma. Shortly after the time when the Metacomet cast off, two other vessels of the enemy [545] were also seen to be cast off and heading in the same general direction with the Metacomet, though distant from her about two and a half miles. Immediately on seeing the Metacomet cast off, the Selma, previously heading southwestwardly, changed her course and bore off up the Bay northwardly and eastwardly with as much steam as she could make, and continued on that general direction, using her after guns. Upon the Selma! turning off, the Metacomet bore down on the Morgan, which vessel engaged her as she came on for some minutes, when she also changed her course and steamed southeastwardly in the direction of shoal water, or Fort Morgan. The Metacomet now pursued the Morgan for some minutes, the latter still fighting her as she came, when a rain squall suddenly arose which temporarily obscured the vessels.

The obscurity of the squall lasted some fifteen minutes, and when it cleared off, the Metacomet was found to have abandoned the pursuit of the Morgan, and had gone in quest of the Selma, which was still pursuing her course up the Bay. The Metacomet was now distant from the Morgan some two miles, and was closely overhauling the Selma. The Morgan headed as if to go in the direction of the Metacomet and Selma, when the latter surrendered.

It appears from this statement that there was no combination of action or concert made or attempted between the Morgan and Selma at any time after the Metacomet cast loose from the Hartford. It is proper to explain that this statement is reduced from the findings of a naval court of inquiry called in the Confederacy to investigate the conduct of the naval battle in Mobile Bay; and that, while its authenticity is thus put beyond question, it is directly opposed to, and in utter variance with the official report of Admiral Buchanan, to the effect that the Morgan and Selma were engaged in fight, and at one and the same time, with the Metacomet, and that in the midst of that fight the Morgan withdrew and left the Selma to her fate. Indeed it was fortunate that the two vessels never at any time combined; for had such combination taken place it would have led to the concentration of the Federal gunboats and resulted in the loss of the Morgan as well as the Selma. There is no doubt that Commander Harrison of the first managed his vessel skilfully; and he ultimately saved her by a gallant run to Mobile. To estimate this feat it must be remembered that it took place after the severe action of the day; that it was undertaken in opposition to the unanimous opinion of a council of officers; that the enemy was between the Morgan and Mobile, his gunboats and iron-clads cruising about the Bay; that the night was calm and starlight, and the Confederate vessel high-pressure, and making black smoke which could be seen along distance. Notwithstanding these adverse circumstances the Morgan succeeded in reaching the obstructions near the city, although pursued and shelled for the greater part of the way by three of the Federal vessels. [546]

While the affair of the Metacomet and wooden gunboats was taking place the Confederate flag-ship Tennessee was three or four miles distant, slowly following up the rear of the enemy's column of ships, which, being of too great draught, were confined to a “pocket” of deep water of about five or six miles length and running in about a north-northwest direction. It was only the enemy's gunboats, being of light draught, that could go beyond these limits and pursue ours.

As the enemy's fleet, having passed the forts and dispersed the gunboats, was proceeding to cast anchor, the Tennessee at last gave sign of battle and made directly for the Hartford. It was a desperate enterprise, for although the vessel was protected by five and six inches of iron-plating, she was about to engage in a conflict in which she would be beset by a whole fleet. Farragut's orders to the Monitors were to attack the Tennessee, not only with their guns, but bows on at full speed. The doomed vessel was soon surrounded. The Monongahela, the Lackawanna and the Hartford, each struck her in turn; and the latter in rasping along her side poured a whole port broadside of nine-inch solid shot within ten feet of her casemate. The vessel still floated, but was unmanageable, as her steering chains were gone. A second and more terrible onset was prepared; the three vessels already mentioned again bore down upon her; a fourth, the Ossipee, was approaching her at full speed; and the Chickasaw was pounding away at her stern. As she was about being struck by the vessels converging upon her, a white flag was hoisted, and Admiral Buchanan surrendered his vessel only after she had been disabled, himself wounded, and his crew almost in a smothering condition. He might have anticipated the result of the unequal contest, and have declined it with honour.

The Federal success, however, was yet incomplete, as the forts still held out, although with little prospect of resisting a bombardment from the shore batteries of the enemy, and the Monitors and ships inside the Bay. On the 8th August Fort Gaines surrendered to the combined naval and land forces. Fort Powell was blown up and abandoned.

On the 9th Fort Morgan was invested, and after a severe bombardment surrendered on the 23d. The total captures amounted to 1,464 prisoners, and 104 pieces of artillery.

The enemy was thus in possession of Mobile Bay, and enabled to close the port to all ingress or egress of blockade runners. But this was the limit of his success; the city was still held by the Confederates, and months were to elapse before the enemy was to make any new demonstration upon it. The capture of the forts did not give the city of Mobile to the enemy, or even give him a practicable water basis for operations against it.

Yet Farragut's victory, so easily achieved and so little fruitful, was exclaimed over the North as one of the greatest naval achievements of the [547] war, and was by Yankee hyperbole exalted above the deeds of Nelson at Trafalgar and the Nile. He who had by the most indifferent prowess — for the enemy's superiority on the water had always been a foregone conclusion-come to be the naval hero of the war, was immortalized after the modern New York fashion of big dinners and newspaper lyrics. A “poet” was employed to recite to him in public what the New York journals called “a masterly ballad,” each stanza of which closed with the word “Farragut.” A feast was prepared for him, where a plaster of ice-cream represented the American Eagle, and miniature ships, built of sticks of candy, loaded the table. The sober mind will turn from these coarse displays of New York enthusiasm, ridiculous to childishness, to look at facts. The naval fight in Mobile Bay was a match between eighteen Federal vessels, having two hundred and twelve guns, and four Confederate vessels, having twenty-two guns. The commentary of history will be taken from the words written at the time in the columns of the Richmond Examiner: “It was a most unequal contest in which our gallant little navy was engaged, and we lost the battle; but our ensign went down in a blaze of glory.”

We pass to other events of the naval service of 1864, to find a record of Federal success, coupled with peculiar circumstances of dishonour.

Sinking of the Confederate privateer Alabama.

The privateering service of the Confederate States had not accomplished all that the public had expected from it; and yet the sum of its results was formidable, and amounted to a considerable weight in the war. From the time the pilot-boat Savannah and the little schooner Jeff. Davis sallied out in the first year of the war, terrour had been struck into the entire commercial marine of the enemy. The Sumter, carrying nine guns, under command of Capt. Raphael Semmes, was the first really formidable experiment of a Confederate privateer. After capturing a number of prizes, she was abandoned at Gibraltar, in January, 1862, as unseaworthy. Since then the two most famous Confederate privateers were the Alabama and the Florida, which scoured the seas from the East Indies to the Atlantic coast, inflicting on the Federal commerce and tonnage the most disastrous results.

A report was made to the Federal Congress of captures by Confederate cruisers up to the 30th of January, 1864. The list, which was not complete, footed up 193, with a tonnage of 89,704. At fifty dollars a ton, the vessels were valued at $4,485,200; the cargoes, at one hundred dollars a ton, were estimated at $8,970,400; total value, $13,455,500. Sixty-two were captured by the Alabama; twenty-six by the Sumter, and twenty two by the Florida. [548]

But the effect of the Confederate privateering on Federal tonnage was even more marked. The perils of capture were standing temptations to Northern ship-owners to transfer their vessels, and put them under the protection of foreign flags; and in the summer of 1864 it was officially reported at Washington that 478,665 tons of American shippage were flying other flags. This loss to the North, as a matter of course, involved a consequent increase of the tonnage and power of its commercial rivals, and was a bitter and humiliating infliction upon its pride.

The Alabama, the most formidable of the Confederate privateers or cruisers, had been built at Birkenhead, England, and left the Mersey, July 29, 1862. The construction of this vessel within the British dominions was long a theme of diplomatic accusations at Washington, in which it was charged that Great Britain had, in this circumstance, overstepped the limits and obligations of her neutrality in the war. To this foolish and insolent assertion the latter Government made a reply which should have been conclusive of the matter. On the 11th September, 1863, Earl Russell had written: “With regard to the general duties of a neutral, according to international law, the true doctrine has been laid down repeatedly by Presidents and judges of eminence of the United States and that doctrine is, that a neutral may sell to either or both of two belligerent parties any implements or munitions of war which such belligerents may wish to purchase from the subjects of the neutral, and it is difficult to find a reason why a ship that is to be used for warlike purposes is more an instrument or implement of war than cannon, muskets, swords, bayonets, gunpowder, and projectiles to be fired from cannon and muskets. A ship or musket may be sold to one belligerent or the other, and only ceases to be neutral when the ship is owned, manned, and employed in war, and the musket is held by a soldier, and used for the purpose of killing his enemy. In fact, the ship can never be expected to decide a war or a campaign, whereas the other things above mentioned may, by equipping a larger army, enable the belligerent which requires them to obtain decisive advantages in the war.”

Here was a plain, comprehensive definition of neutrality, which the good sense of the world evidently accepted. It is a sad reflection upon the British Government that it should have been driven from a position so well fortified by reason and justice, and should have subsequently allowed itself to be bullied by the Washington Government into the seizure of two iron-clads (combining the ram and monitor principles), which were being built by the Messrs. Laird, at Birkenhead, as alleged, for the service of the Confederates. That seizure was made in 1863. The terms in which that outrage was demanded, and the mean and cowardly circuit by which the British Government ultimately conceded it, may be placed here as an example of the timidity of that Government, and a striking evidence that [549] nothing had been further from its intentions during the war than the “recognition” of the Confederate States. The demand was made as follows

Legation of the United States, London, Sept. 3, 1863.
My Lord: I have the honour to transmit copies of further depositions relating to the launching and other preparation of the second of the two vessels-of-war from the yard of Messrs. Laird, at Birkenhead, concerning which it has already been my disagreeable duty to make most serious representations to Her Majesty's Government.

I believe there is not any reasonable ground for doubt that these vessels, if permitted to leave the port of Liverpool, will be at once devoted to the object of carrying on war against the United States of America. I have taken the necessary measures in the proper quarters to ascertain the truth of the respective statements current here, that they are intended for the use of the Government of France or for the Pacha of Egypt, and have found both without foundation. At this moment, neither of those Powers appears to have occasion to use concealment or equivocation in regard to its intentions, had it any in obtaining such ships. In the notes which I had the honour to address to your Lordship on the 11th of July and the 14th of August, I believe I stated the importance attached by my Government to the decision involved in this case with sufficient distinctness. Since that date I have had the opportunity to receive from the United States a full approbation of its contents. At the same time, I feel it my painful duty to make known to your Lordship that, in some respects, it has fallen short in expressing the earnestness with which I have been in the interval directed to describe the grave nature of the situation in which both countries must be placed in the event of an act of aggression committed against the Government and people of the United States by either of these formidable vessels.

I pray your Lordship to accept the assurances of the highest consideration with which I have the honour to be, my Lord, your most obedient servant,

Charles Francis Adams. Right Honourable Earl Russell, &c.

The consequence of this menace was that the Messrs. Laird were forbidden to allow these vessels to leave their yard “without an ample explanation of their destination and a sustainable reference to the owner or owners for whom they are constructed.” It was outrageously held by Lord Russell that “Messrs. Laird were bound to declare-and sustain on unimpeachable testimony such declaration — the Governments for whom the steam rams have been built.” In other words, without an affidavit or other legal foundation for proceedings against them, these gentlemen were required to come forward and prove their innocence, a thing opposed to all the law of Coke and Blackstone, and practised for the first time in British dominions at the dictation of powers in Washington.

We return to a brief chronicle of the cruise of the Alabama. She arrived at Porto Praya on the 19th August. Shortly thereafter Capt. Raphael Semmes assumed command. Hoisting the Confederate flag, she cruised and captured several vessels in the vicinity of Flores. Cruising to the westward, and making several captures, she approached within two hundred miles of New York; thence going southward, arrived, on the [550] 18th November at Port Royal, Martinique. On the night of the 19th she escaped from the harbour and the Federal steamer San Jacinto, and on the 20th November was at Blanquilla. On the 7th December she captured the steamer Ariel in the passage between Cuba and St. Domingo. On January 11th, 1863, she sunk the Federal gunboat Hatteras off Galveston, and on the 30th arrived at Jamaica. Cruising to the eastward, and making many captures, she arrived, on the 10th April, at Fernando de Noronha, and on the 11th May at Bahia, where, on the 13th, she was joined by the Confederate steamer Georgia. Cruising near the line, thence southward towards the Cape of Good Hope, numerous captures were made. On the 29th July she anchored in Saldanha Bay, South Africa, and near there, on the 5th August, was joined by the Confederate bark Tuscaloosa, Commander Low. In September, 1863, she was at St. Simon's Bay, and in October was in the Straits of Sunda, and up to January 20, 1864, cruised in the Bay of Bengal and vicinity, visiting Singapore, and making a number of very valuable captures, including the Highlander, Sonora, etc. From this point she cruised on her homeward track via Cape of Good Hope, capturing the bark Tycoon and ship Rockingham, and arrived at Cherbourg, France, in June, 1864, where she repaired.

A Federal steamer, the Kearsarge, was lying off the harbour. Capt. Semmes might easily have evaded this enemy; the business of his vessel was that of a privateer; and her value to the Confederacy was out of all comparison with a single vessel of the enemy, the loss of which would, of course, be but an unimportant subtraction from the immense superiority of the Federals on the water. But Capt. Semmes had been twitted with the name of “pirate ;” and he was easily persuaded to attempt an eclat for the Southern Confederacy by a naval fight within sight of the French coast, which contest, it was calculated, would prove the Alabama a legitimate war vessel, and give such an exhibition of Confederate belligerency as possibly to revive the question of “recognition” in Paris and London. These were the secret motives of the gratuitous fight with which Capt. Semmes obliged the enemy off the port of Cherbourg.

The Alabama carried one 7-inch Blakely rifled gun, one 8-inch smoothbore pivot gun, and six 32-pounders, smooth-bore, in broadside; the Kearsarge carried four broadside 32-pounders, two 11-inch and one 28-pound rifle. The two vessels were thus about equal in match and armament; and their tonnage was about the same. On the morning of the 19th of June, the Alabama steamed out of the harbour of Cherbourg, for the purpose of engaging the Kearsarge, which had been lying off-and — on the port for several days previously. She came up with the latter at a distance of about seven miles from the shore. The vessels were about one mile from each other, when the Alabama opened with solid shot upon the enemy, to which he replied in a few minutes. [551]

The two vessels, instead of coming to close quarters, resorted to a curious maneuver-fighting in a circle, and steaming around a common centre. The distance between them varied from a quarter to half a mile. The Alabama fired alternately with shot and shell; her guns were admirably worked; but strange to say, the Kearsarge showed no sign of material damage, when, after more than an hour's fire, Capt. Semmes ascertained that his own vessel was in a sinking condition, large apertures having been made in her sides and between decks. He now turned his vessel towards the French coast, hoping to reach it under a full head of steam and a crowd of sail. It was too late; the ship was evidently doomed; the fires were extinguished in the furnaces; and when the Kearsarge, which pursued her, was four hundred yards distant, Capt. Semmes hauled down his colours, and prepared to surrender. His vessel was evidently settling under him, and he looked with anxiety to the Kearsarge for her boats to put out to receive the surrender and rescue her prisoners from the fate of drowning. No boat came. Instead of despatching relief, the Kearsarge fired five times upon the Alabama after her colours had been struck. “It is charitable to suppose,” says Capt. Semmes, “that a ship of war of a Christian nation could not have done this intentionally.” But there is another explanation of this act. It has since become known to the world that in a certain diplomatic letter from Secretary Seward on questions growing out of this battle, he has taken the position that the Federal vessel had choice of a capture of prisoners, or “of sinking the crew of the pirate!”

It appeared that nothing but a watery grave awaited the officers and crew of the Alabama. As the vessel was on the point of sinking, the unhappy and desperate men leaped overboard, and the waves were soon filled with drowning men. Happily an English yacht, the Deerhound, was upon the scene, and having been allowed by the Kearsarge to go to the rescue, steamed up in the midst of the drowning men, and rescued most of them from the water. Capt. Semmes was taken by the Deerhound's boat from the water, as he was sinking for the last time. He turned his face to the rescuing party, and said: “I am Capt. Semmes-save me.” He was eagerly taken aboard when his rank was thus known, and, being covered with a tarpaulin, he was carried to the English yacht, directly under the guns of the Kearsarge, without attracting any attention from the vessel.

The loss of the Alabama, in killed and wounded, was thirty; and on the Kearsarge not a single life had been lost. But there was another inequality of results of much more curious interest. The hull of t]he Alabama had been fearfully opened by the enemy's shot and shell, and yet the Kearsarge, after the contest, showed such little evidence of serious damage, that it did not appear even necessary for her to come into port to repair. [552] The secret came out after the engagement. The Kearsarge had a concealed armour, that completely protected her from the thirteen or fourteen shots received in or about her hull. Her midship section, on both sides, was thoroughly iron-coated. This had been done with chain constructed for the purpose, placed perpendicularly from the rail to the water's edge, the whole covered over by a thin outer planking, which gave no indication of the armour beneath. This planking had been ripped off in every direction by the shot and shell of the Alabama, the chain broken and indented in many places, and forced partly into the ship's side. She was most effectually guarded, however, in this section from penetration; and in the hour's contest the Alabama little knew that she was fighting a mailed enemy, with scarcely a single chance in her favour.

In commenting on this discovery, the Richmond Dispatch referred to a certain custom of chivalry, that when a knight was discovered in concealed armour his spurs were hacked off by the public hangman. The Northern public, however, could scarcely be expected to take so fine a notion; and Capt. Winslow, the North Carolinian, who commanded the Kearsarge, easily entitled his exploit among the sensations of the day, reached the American coast to find himself famous, was overwhelmed with receptions and dinners in Boston, and had his physiognomy recorded on the first pages of the New York pictorials.

Capture of the privateer Florida.

A few weeks later another naval exploit of the enemy was practically to terminate the privateering service of the Confederates, and to give one of the most extraordinary illustrations of the enemy's utter disregard of means in obtaining any desirable result in the war. An account of this event is properly preceded by an anecdote told in the New York newspapers, of Admiral Farragut, the naval hero of the North. When the Russian Admiral, in 1863, wintered in New York with his fleet, it was an occasion of receptions and banquets, at one of which occurred the following conversation with Admiral Farragut. The latter was complaining of the American officer who did not capture a Confederate steamer in a neutral port. “Why, would you have done it?” asked the Russian. “Yes, sir,” was the prompt reply. “But,” said the Russian, “your Government would have broken you.” “Of course it would,” replied Admiral F.; “but wouldn't I have had her /” The New York journals reported this among the heroic anecdotes of their heroic men; when it was simply the brutal expression of advantage, the disowning of all international conscience, the characteristic Yankee bluster of might against right.

This curious exposition of international law by the Federal Admiral [553] did not have to wait long for a practical illustration. After the capture of the Alabama, the enemy appears to have had an increased desire for the other important Confederate cruiser, the Florida, carrying eight guns. She had eluded the Kearsarge at Brest, and since then had ventured within sixty miles of New York, chasing the war steamer Ericsson, and capturing the steamer Electric Spark on the route to New Orleans. She was next heard from at Teneriffe, and subsequently entered the Bay of San Salvador, Brazil.

The Wachusett, a Federal steamer, was also in this neutral port; and her commander, Napoleon Collins, conceived the utterly outrageous and dastardly design of sinking the Confederate vessel at her anchorage, or capturing her by stealing upon her in an unguarded moment, and towing her out to sea. The circumstances of the outrage were of peculiar atrocity. A little past midnight of 6th October, the Wachusett slipped her cables, and bore down upon the Florida, when about one half the crew of the unsuspecting vessel were ashore. The Florida's officer on deck, when he saw the approach of the Wachusett, actually hailed her to avoid an accidental collision as he feared; little supposing that the Federal vessel was coming down under a full head of steam with the diabolical design of sinking a defenceless vessel with her crew asleep beneath her decks. The blow, however, was not well delivered, striking the Florida in the stern and not amidships as intended. As the Wachusett drew off, she demanded the surrender of the vessel, incapable of resistance, and having in a few moments boarded her, attached a hawser, and moving at the top of her speed, towed the Florida rapidly out to sea. The outrage was not discovered by the Brazilian fleet until the Wachusett with her prize had got out to sea, and then some harmless shots were fired, which passed over her pennant.

Of course Mr. Seward had to apologize to the Brazilian Government, and Capt. Collins had to go through certain forms of censure. But this was of no importance. The diplomatic apology did not prevent the Florida from being held as a prize, and afterwards being “accidentally” sunk in Hampton Roads. And the official affectation with Capt. Collins did not prevent the press from lauding him, and the New York Herald from saying: “Certainly, no page of history can show a more daring achievement” --another illustration, by the way, of how the North has measured glory in the war by the very degrees of wantonness and outrage.

Invasion of Missouri by Gen. Price.

In the close of this chapter and in the group of events of the war, in 1864, outside of the grand campaigns of Virginia and Georgia, we may [554] properly place here a brief record of what was the most important of the detached military operations of 1864. This was a movement in the Trans-Mississippi, the invasion of Missouri by Gen. Price. It appears to have been altogether a detached operation, having no relation to the campaigns east of the Mississippi, and with but little effect on the general issues of the war. It is therefore narrated in a small space.

About the middle of September, Gen. Price entered Missouri, crossing the State line from Arkansas, by the way of Pocahontas and Poplar Bluff. He had about ten thousand men under the command of Gens. Shelby, Marmaduke, and Fagan. From Poplar Bluff, Price advanced, by the way of Bloomfield, to Pilot Knob, driving before him the various outpost garrisons, and threatening Cape Girardeau. Pilot Knob was evacuated, and Price thus obtained a strongly fortified position, eighty-six miles south of St. Louis, the terminus of the railroad, and the depot for supply of the lower outposts.

Gen. Rosecrans, the Federal commander in the Department of Missouri, was largely superiour in force to Price; but he appears to have been unable to concentrate or handle his troops, and the country was surprised to find Gen. Price moving almost without molestation through the large State of Missouri, doing incalculable mischief, and kindling the hopes of the Confederates with another campaign of wonders in this remote region of the war. From Pilot Knob Gen. Price moved north to the Missouri River, and continued up that river towards Kansas. Gen. Custis, commanding the Department of Kansas, immediately collected such forces as he could to repel the invasion; while four brigades of Federal cavalry, numbering about eight thousand men and eight rifled guns, were operating in Price's rear. On the 23d October, Gen. Price was brought to battle on the Big Blue, and defeated, Gens. Marmaduke and Cabell being taken prisoners, and the Confederates losing nearly all of their artillery. On the following day, Price was again attacked, near Fort Scott, and obliged hurriedly to retreat into Kansas. He then turned down to the south, and crossed the Arkansas River, above Fort Smith, into the Indian Territory. He subsequently went into winter quarters in the south of Arkansas, his men in worse plight than when they started from that State, and the conclusion of his campaign an undoubted failure.

The fact is that Gen. Price had retreated from Missouri, not so much under the stress of the enemy's arms as from inherent faults in his own enterprise. He had declared that his invasion was not a raid, that he came to possess Missouri; but the breadth of the excursion, its indefiniteness, and the failure to concentrate on important points, ruined him. While his command roamed through the State, his men, brought to the vicinity of their old homes, which they had not seen for several years, were exposed [555] to unusual temptations to desert; and instead of being reinforced by recruits, his command was diminished by desertions at every step of the march, and almost ran through his fingers before he left the State. With this sad conclusion of Gen. Price's expedition, the last hope was banished from the Southern mind of possessing Missouri; and the operations of the Trans-Mississippi may be said now to have made their last figure of importance in the war.

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