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424

A NOBLE SAILOR.

ping the Alabama;" adding "I willingly will lose my leg or life, if necessary.”

In the meantime the fight went on, and as the heavy broadsides shook, the deck, he would comfort his two wounded comrades by, telling them that " victory was certain;" and as ever and anon the cheers of the guns' crews on deck were borne to his ears, as they saw a shot planted in a vital part of the Alabama, he would wave his hand over his head, and with a smile lighting his pallid features, give a faint, answering cheer. His heroic spirit kept in this buoyant state till long after the victory, and he passed away, reiterating again and again as the sands of life ran low, "I am willing to die, for we have won a glorious victory."

Winslow fought his ship as coolly as though engaged in a simple manoeuvre, telling the officers not to let the men fire too rapidly, but take deliberate aim. “Point,” said he, "the heavy guns below. rather than above the water line, and sweep the decks with the lighter ones.'

In addition to her regular and effective armament, the Kearsarge had a twelve.pounder boat-howitzer, which was totally useless in the fight. This was put in charge of two old quartermasters, “the two Dromios” of the ship, with orders not to fire until directed to do so. But those rollicking old salts had no idea of remaining idle while their messmates were stripped to such deadly work, and having, as they said, all the fun. So withont waiting for orders, when the heavy guns began to thunder over the sea, they loaded and fired their solitary howitzer as though the fate of the combat depended on their activity. Though perfectly aware of the harmlessness of their shots, they peppered away with all the gravity of men in dead-earnest, pausing between each discharge to curse and swear at each other in the most approved man-of-war style. Standing thus apart and firing

A SERIOUS FAROE.

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their

pop-gun in any direction with the most perfect gravity, and then pausing to abuse each other roundly, while the enemy's heavy shells were screaming and bursting above and around them, they made such an exceedingly ludicrous by-play, that the crew burst into peals of laughter. The officers, seeing in what excellent humor for-cool fighting this farce kept the men, and amused at the mock earnestness and droll abusive language of these old weather-beaten favorites of the ship, did not interfere with them, and they kept on firing till they had exhausted the entire box of ammunition.

In the meantime the vessels, moving steadily in their respective circles, kept pouring in their heavy broadsides; the Alabama firing twice to the Kearsarge once; yet, so bad was her gunnery that out of over three hundred shots only twenty hit her antagonist, and only some fourteen of these pierced her hull--not killing a single man, and wounding but three. On the other hand, the slow and accurate firing of the Kearsarge told with terrible effect on the enemy. One shot alone killed and wounded eighteen men. Her two hundred pound shells, pierced the rebel ship at the water line, and bursting within, opened huge gaps, through which the water poured in torrents. The rudder of the latter was soon rendered useless, and by the time the vessels had made seven complete circles, report was made to Captain Semmes that his ship was sinking. He immediately hoisted sail, and ordered all steain on, hoping to be able to reach the French coast; but, finding the steamer fast settling in the water, he hauled down his colors and dispatched a boat to the Kearsarge to state that he had surrendered. In the meantime, he lowered the boats that had not been shot away, to receive the sick and wounded; but before all could be got off, the stern of the steamer sunk deep in the sea, lifting her bow into the air as though making a last effort to escape destruc

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426

SINKING OF THE ALABAMA.

tion,-ner mainmast breaking short off in the struggle-and .then with one heavy lurch she went to the bottom. The parted waves closed with a loud splash above her form, as with all her guns, and some of her brave defenders she disappeared from sight forever. Thus perished this terror of the seas, after a fight of only an hour and two minutes. Amid the foam that tossed above the spot where she went down, appeared a mass of human heads struggling for life, and among the strong swimmers was Captain Semmes himself. The Yacht Deerhound having now approached within hailing distance of the Kearsarge, Winslow begged the Commander to go to the assistance of the drowning men, as he had but two boats. The latter did so, picking up Semmes and many of the crew, and carried them, together with the officer who had surrendered the ship, to Southampton,

Semmes in his report, by implication, charges Capt. Winslow with inhumanity. He not only declares that he fired on him after he struck his flag, but says: “There was no appearance of any boat coming to me from the enemy after my ship went down. Ultimately, the steam yacht Deerhound, owned by a gentleman of Lancashire, England, Mr. John Lancaster, who was himself on board, steamed up in the midst of my drowning men and rescued a number of both officers and men from the water. About this time the Kearsarge sent one, and then tardily another.”

Now Mr. Lancaster, who was evidently hand and glove with the rebel Commander, contradicts this statement. His log book says,

“At half past twelve, we observed the Alabama to be disabled, and in a sinking state. We immediately made toward her, and in passing the Kearsarge were requested to assist in saving the Alabama's crew. And again, in a published letter, he says, "when we passed the Kearsarge, the captain cried out, “For God's sake do what you can to save them.'” It was unquestionably very morti

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ALABAMA AND KEARSARGE.

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fying to Semmes to lose his ship; but that is no reason why he should endeavor to slander a gallant opponent. Again he says, “ the enemy was heavier than myself, both in-ship, and battery, and crew; but I did not know till the action was over that she was also iron-clad." This assertion is not borne out by the following figures :

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Thus much as to the size and tonnage of the two ship.3. The armament of the Alabama was one seven-inch riflegun; one eight-inch sinooth bore sixty-eight pounder ; six thirty-two pounders.

That of the Kearsarge was two eleven-inch smooth bores; one thirty pounder rifle; four thirty-two pounders.

It will be seen by these figures, that the Alabama was the larger ship, and had one more gun than the Kearsarge, although the weight of the latter's broadside was the great

The simple truth is, two more equally matched ships could not well be found. The "iron plating,” which Captain Semmes makes so much of was simply some spare chain cable hung over the sides of the vessel midships, and boxed over with planking. This had been done a year before, and was well known in every port where she had since touched. Semmes was also aware of it, for he spoke about it some days previous to the fight, saying, “that the chains were only attached together with rope-yarn, and would drop into the water when struck with the first shot.” If

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YACHT DEERHOUND.

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Capt. Semmes wishes his character as a fighter to be judged by his reputation as a man of veracity, we fear his capture and firing of helpless merchantmen will furnish his greatest laurels.

In speaking of the conduct of the Deerhound, Captain Winslow says:

“I could not believe that the commander of that vessel could be guilty of so disgraceful an act as taking our prisoners off, and, therefore, took no means to prevent it.” The act of Mr. Lancaster was so generally condemned on both sides of the water, that this gentleman deemed it incumbent on him to make a public defense. He

says, “I had the earnest request of Captain Winslow to rescue as many of the men as were in the water, as I could lay hold of, but that request was not coupled with any stipulation to the effect that I should deliver up the rescued men to him as his prisoners. If it had been, I should have declined the task, because I should have deemed it dishonorable—that is, inconsistent with my notions of honor-to lend my yacht and crew for the purpose of rescuing those brave men from drowning, only to hand them over to their enemies for imprisonment, ill-treatment, and, perhaps, execution.

Now, there are several things to be noticed in this curious portion of his defense. First, a falsehood in the expression of fear that they might be delivered over

delivered over to execution." The war had been going on for over two years, and our Government had, at the very outset, in the first capture of a privateer, decided that the crews of such vessels should be treated as prisoners of war. In the second place, we are called upon to admire this gentleman's peculiar “notions of honor," which would have prevented him from "rescuing those brave men” from death, to hand them over as “prisoners, to a nation, distinguished for its humane treatment of the captured

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