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BATTLE OF THE KEARSARGE AND ALABAMA.
chief, if worsted in the fight, should not fall into Captain Winslow's hands.
Fearing the question of jurisdiction, Winslow steamed to sea about seven miles from the breakwater at Cherbourg, followed by Semmes at a distance of about a mile. The Alabama was accompanied by the French ironclad frigate Couronne to a point beyond the territorial waters, and then went back. Then the Kearsarge rounded to, and made for the Alabama. When within twelve hundred yards of her, the latter opened fire. The Kear
sarge received two or three broadsides without returning a shot, when she suddenly retorted with telling effect.' Winslow attempted to close and board his antagonist, but Semmes fought shy. His ship sheered off and steamed ahead, firing rapidly and wildly, while the Kearsarge delivered her fire slowly and with deliberate aim. For an hour they fought, the steamers moving in a circle, and thus each kept its starboard side from which it was firing, bearing upon the starboard side of the other. In the course of the conflict they described seven circles, as denoted in the
annexed diagram, and were drifted by the tide about four miles from the place of the beginning of the fight, before it was ended.
At a little past twelve o'clock, at noon, when the combat had continued an hour, the Alabama was at the mercy of her adversary. She had received several 11-inch shells, one of which disabled a gun and eighteen men. Another had entered her coal-bunker, and by the effects of its explosion had so blocked up the engine room as to compel a resort to sails; and her sides were shattered and pierced with holes. The Kearsarge was then in a position to fire grape-shot effectually. A few more guns brought down the Alabama's flag, but Winslow could not tell whether it had been shot away or hauled down. A white flag was then displayed over her stern; so, respecting it, the firing of the Kearsarge ceased. In the space of two minutes the Alabama treacherously opened two guns upon her adversary, and attempted to run to the protection of neutral waters, not more than three miles distant. This
NAVAL BATTLE OFF CHERBOURG.
1 The two vessels were fairly matched in dimensions, equipment, and men. The extreme length of the Alabama was 220 feet; length on water line, 210; beam, 32; depth, 17; two engines of 300 horse power each, and tonnage 1,150. The extreme length of the Kearsarge was 2147 feet; length on water line, 1984 feet: beam, 83; depth, 16 feet; two engines 400 horse power each, and tonnage 1,080. The Alabama carried one 7-incb Blakely rifled cannon; one 8-inch smooth-bore 58-pounder, and six 32-pounders. The Kearsarge had two 11-inch smooth-bore guns; one 80-pounder rified cannon, and four 32-pounders. The Kenrsarge used 5 guns, the Alabama 7. The Kearsarge had 162 officers and men; the Alabama about 150. The gunners of the latter were trained artillerists from the British ship-of-war Excellent.
DESTRUCTION OF THE ALABAMA.
drew the fire of the Kearsarge again, and then she steamed ahead, and laid across the Alabama's bows, for raking. The white flag was still flying, and Winslow's fire was again reserved.' Very soon afterward the boats of the Alabama were seen to be lowering, and in one of them an officer came alongside the Kearsarge with information that her antagonist had sur rendered, and was fast sinking. At that moment, the Deerhound, with Lan caster and his family on board, having come out professedly to see the fight, but really for another purpose, passed by the Kearsarge, and Winslow humanely requested her owner to assist in saving the people of the Alabama. Twenty minutes afterward the pirate ship went down in the deep waters of the British Channel. Sixty-five of the unfortunate men were rescued by the Kearsarge. The Deerhound picked up Semmes, his officers, and some men, and carried them out of harm's way, to England, where the pirate commander was received with all the attentions due to a hero in honorable warfare. It was an exhibition of which the honest heart of England was greatly ashamed.
Thus ended the great naval duel, seen by thousands from the French shore, with very little loss of life. It resulted in closing the career of a vessel whose existence and doings were a perpetual outrage of the British Government against the citizens of our Republic. And the organs of British opinion, favorable to that Government, bewailed her loss as a British disaster; while thinking, honest Englishmen, representing the great heart of the British nation, blushed with shame, for they regarded her existence and career as a stigma upon the crown and the people. They insisted, also, what the Government of the United States has never ceased to claim, that the
1 Semmes, in a letter to J. M. Mason, the Confederate "Envoy" in London, omitting to mention his own perfidious conduct in opening fire after he had displayed a white flag, said :-* Although we were but 400 yards from each other, the enemy fired npon me five times after my colors had been struck. It is charitable to suppose that a ship-of-war of a Christian nation could not have done this intentionally." The statement of Captain Winslow, given substantially in the text, which was corroborated by that of Semmes's friend Lancaster, shows the untruthfulness of the pirate's account. Semmes declared that the midship section of the Kearsarge was “ on both sides thoroughly iron-coated, this having been done with chains constructed for the purpose, the whole covered with a thin outer coating of plank which gave no indication of the armor beneath.” Winslow says that the Alabama had greatly the advantage in a much larger quantity of coal · which brought her down in the water," and added, “ but as an offset to this, her sheet-chains were stowed outside, stopped up and down as an additional preventive, and protection to her more empty bunkers." The Kearsarge was very little damaged. Her stern-post was struck and shattered by an elliptical shell, as represented in the engraving. That part of her stern-post in wbich the shell lodged is preserved in the Museum of the Navy Yard, at Washington City, where the writer sketched it.
2 Before going into action, Semmes made a speech to his crew, in which he declared that the Kearsargo must be conquered, or the Alabama, with her officers and crew, should go to the bottom. As that crew were nearly all Englishmen, he repeated to them the words of Lord Nelson on a more noble occasion :—* England expects every man to do his duty." But when the Alabama was found to be actually sinking, and Semmes saw his friend Lancaster near, ho changed his mind, and with the spirit of his fellow-confederates on land, who were always talking of dying in the last ditch,” he determined to risk being hanged as a pirate rather than drown as a voluntary and foolish martyr.
3 Lancaster carried the pirates to Southampton, and Winslow's claim that they were lawful prisoners of war, having formally surrendered, was denied. At Southampton a public dinner was given to Semmes and his officers; and Admiral Anson, of the British davy, headed a list of subscribers to a fund raised for the purpose of purchasing an elegant sword to be presented to the Corsair as a token of sympathy and esteem.
* The Kearsarge had three men badly wounded, one of them mortally. The latter was William Gowin, of Michigan, a genuine hero, whose leg was badly shattered at the beginning of the action, but who concealed the extent of his injuries and gave every encouragement to his comrades. The Alabama had nine men killed and twenty-one wounded. Of the la:ter, two were drowned before they could be saved.
CRCISE OF THE SHENANDOAH.
British Government was bound to make full indemnity for all losses caused by the destructive acts of the Alabama.'
It seems proper to record here, in anticipation of other transactions of the war, the prominent events in the career of the last of the Confederate pirate ships, and which performed the last acts of hostility against the Republic. She was the Shenandoah, a Clyde (Scotland) built vessel, long and rakish, of seven hundred and ninety tons burden, with an auxiliary engine of two hundred and twenty nominal horse power, and capable of an average speed of ten knots an hour.
The Shenandoah was originally the Sea-King. She left London with that name early in October, 1864, as an East Indiaman, armed with two guns, as usual, and cleared for Bombay. A steamer, named Laurel, took from Liverpool a lot of “Southern gentlemen" (as the historian of the Shenandoah's cruise called them), who had been in the Sumter, Alabama, and Georgia, with an armament and a crew of Englishmen, all of which were transferred to the Seu-King at Madeira, when she was named Shenandoah. Her captain was James I. Waddell, who was regularly commissioned by Mallory. He addressed the crew, who were ignorant of their destination until then, and informed them of the character and purpose of the Shenandoah, whereupon only twenty-three of the eighty men were found willing to become pirates and take the risks of the perilous profession. The remainder returned to Liverpool in the Laurel.
The Shenandoah sailed from Madeira to the Southern Ocean, plundering and destroying American vessels whenever opportunity to do so was offered. At Melbourne, Australia, her officers were received with great enthusiasm, and were entertained with receptions, dinners, and balls; and free tickets were given them for travel on the Hobson Bay railroad. Just before they left, these “gentlemen” indulged in a drunken frolic, and a disgraceful fight with some of the citizens. Then the Shenandoah cruised in the India
seas and up the Eastern coast of Asia to the Ochosk Sea and
Behring's Straits,to plunder and destroy the New England whaling fleet on the borders of the frozen Arctic Ocean. There she made havoc among the whalers, and lighted up the ice-floes of the Polar Sea with incendiary fires. On the 28th of June, she appeared at a convention of whaling ships in that region,' bearing the American flag, and exciting no suspicions of her character, when she suddenly revealed her mission, and, before five o'clock that evening, she had made prizes of ten whale ships, of which eight were set on fire and burned in a group before midnight. “It was an ill-omened day for them and the insurance offices in New Bedford," said the historian of her cruise. This was the last act in the horrid drama of the Civil War.
On the 2d of August the commander of the Shenandoah was satisfac
• June, 1865.
i The Manchester Eraminer, in noticing her destruction, said :-“ Thus ends the career of one of the most notorious ships of modern times. Costly as has been her career to Federal commerce, she has been hardly less costly to this country. She has sown a legacy of distrust and of future apprehension on both sides of the Atlantic; and happy will it be both for England and America, if with her, beneath the waters of the channel, may be buried the memory of her career and of the mischief she has done."
? It was the custoun of whalers, when a ship had been badly injured, to collect all the vessels within signal. ing distance, and if the craft was found so hurt that it was impossible to repair her, she was sold at auction to the bighest bidder. On the occasion under consideration, the ship Brunswick, from New Bedford, had been Hove, and blew signals of distress. This caused the gathering of the whaling tleet.
PORT OF MOBILE TO BE CLOSED.
torily informed of the end of the Rebellion,' by an English bark, when, contrary to the wishes of the ship's company, Waddell proceeded with his vessel to England, and delivered her as a prize to the British national vessel Donegal, in the harbor of Liverpool. According to the historian of the cruise, the object of Waddell was sordid and dishonorable, and he enriched himself at the expense of his companions. By a ruling of the British authorities, all of the men of the Shenandoah, not British subjects, were released, and this covered nearly the whole, for almost every man, however much his speech betrayed him, eagerly, on that occasion, claimed to be a native born or a lopted citizen of the United States.'
Soon after the destruction of the Alabama, measures were taken for further diminishing the aid continually given to the Confederates through British vessels, by closing against the blockade-runners the ports of Mobile and Wilmington, the only ones now remaining open to them. These, having double entrances, made it difficult for blockading squadrons to prevent the swift, light-draft vessels used for running the blockade, from slipping in with valuable cargoes of needful supplies, and slipping out again with equally valuable cargoes of cotton for the use of England's mills.
It was resolved to seal up the port of Mobile first, and for that purpose, Admiral Farragut appeared off the entrance of Mobile Bay, full thirty miles below the city, with a fleet of eighteen vessels, four of them iron-clad, while a land force, about five thousand strong, sent by General Canby from New Orleans, under General Gordon Granger, was planted upon Dauphin Island for the purpose of co-operating.
The entrance to Mobile Bay is divided by Dauphin Island, making two passages; the easterly one four miles wide and twenty-five feet deep in the channel. The other, known as Grant's Pass, was a very narrow passage, between two little islands, and not more than five or six feet deep at low
Aug. 5, 1864.
1 Before the raid on the whaling fleet, a San Francisco newspaper had reached the Shenandoah, with news of the surrender of Lee and Johnston, and the end of the war, but he did not choose to consider it authentic, * coming from the enemy."
2 One of the pirates, an officer of the Shenandoah, named Cornelius E. Hunt, wrote a history of the cruise of the Shenandoah, from which this brief sketch has been chiefly compiled. He says when they were informed of the close of the war, each man felt himself a proper subject for the wrath of his outraged Government.
" It had been three months," he says, “ since hostilities ceased, leaving us without a flag or a country; and during that time we had been actively engaged in preying upon the commerce of a Government that not only claimed our allegiance, but had made good her claim by the wager of battle." Under these circumstances, Captain Waddell was solicited by a written petition of the ship's company, to proceed to Sydney, Australia, there abandon tho ship to the British authorities, and let each man look out for his personal safety. He deceived them with professions of acquiescence, but steered for England.
The same writer complains of the coldness with which these corsairs were received in England. “The journals," he said, “once most clamorous for our cause, were the first to bestow upon us the epithet of “pirates.' So much for the disinterested friendship of Great Britain. As long as their workshops were busy turning out arms and munitions of war for our armies in the field, and blockade-runners from Southern ports were arriving at Liverpool and London, laden with the coveted cotton, they were loud in their protestations of sympathy and friendship; but when the hour of adversity came—when there was nothing more to be made out of us, these fair-weather friends wholly ignored our existence."
3 During her cruise, in which she circumnavigated the globe, the Shenandoah captured thirty vessels, whose aggregate value was $1,334,958.
+ See page 312, volume II.
5 The wooden vessels were the lartford (flag-ship), Captain P. Drayton; Brooklyn, Captain James Alden ; Metacomet, Lieutenant-commander J. E. Jonett; Octorara, Lieutenant-commander C. H. Green; Richmond, Captain T. A. Jenkins; Lackawanna, Captain J. B. Marchand; Monongahela, Commander J. H. Strong; Ossi. pee, Commander W. E. LeRoy; Oneida, Commander J. R. M. Mullaney ; Port Royal, Lieutenant-cominander B. Gherarde; Seminole, Commander E. Donaldson; Kennebeck, Lieutenant-commander W. P. McCann; Itasca, Lieutenant-commander George Brown, and Galena, Lieutenant-commander C. H. Wells. The iron. clad vessels were the Tecumseh, Commander T. A. M. Craven; Manhattan, Commander T. W. A. Nicholson ; Winnebago, Commander T. H. Stevens, and Chickasau, Lieutenant-commander T. H. Perkins.
THE DEFENSES OF MOBILE.
water, On one of the little islands, and commanding the Pass, was a small earı h-work, called Fort Powell, and across the channel, only a few yards distant, was a small light-house, as seen in the sketch made by the writer on an April evening, 1866. On the easterly point of Dauphin Island was a
VIEW AT GRANT'S PASS.
stronger work, called Fort Gaines, commanding the main entrance; and southeasterly from it, on Mobile Point, was the still stronger work, Fort Morgan, formerly Fort Bowyer, with a heavy light-house near it. The ship channel passed close under the guns of Fort Morgan, and in it the Confederates had driven piles to obstruct it, and sown torpedoes in profusion. These forts were well armed and manned, and within the bay, and not far distant, lay a small Confederate squadron, commanded by Admiral Buchanan.? His flag-ship was a powerful ram, called Tennessee, one of the most formidable of that class of war-vessels; and she was accompanied by three ordinary gun-boats, named, respectively, Selma, Morgan, and Gaines.
Such were the defenses of the harbor of Mobile, at its entrance, thirty miles south of the city. Considering all things, they were very formidable, but not sufficiently so to cause the gallant Farragut to hesitate for a moment. He had fixed upon the 4th of August as the day for the attack, but as the Tecumseh had not then arrived, operations were deferred until the next day, when they began before six o'clock in the morning.
l'anagat had arranged his wooden ships in couples, lashed together, for the passage of the forts. His flag-ship was tethered to the Metacomet. In order to have a general oversight and direction of all movements, he took the perilous position of the main-top of the Hartford, his flag-ship, where he was lashed, that he might not be dislodged by the shock of battle. By means of a tube, extending from his lofty position to the deck, he was able to give orders clearly, in defiance of the uproar of the strife. In that exposed situation he remained during the perilous passage of the forts and the conflict with the gun-boats, that ensued. It was a marvelous and sublime exhibition of faith and courage. He illustrated his own remark that “exposure is one of the penalties of rank in the navy.” The exploit has been celebrated by the pencil and song.
At the hour above-named, Farragut’s fleet steamed up toward Fort Morgan. The four armored vessels passed the bar in advance, and at a little before seven o'clock, the Tecumseh opened fire upon the fort, then a mile off. The latter soon replied, when a general engagement ensued. Because of
1 This is from a sketch made from a stenmer, looking east. On the left are seen the mounds of Fort Powells on the right the light-house, and in the channel, the remains of the obstructions placed there by the Confeder. ates. In the far distance is seen a part of Mobile Point.
? See page 360, volume II.
3 The Tennessee was 209 feet in length, 48 feet beam, with timber sides 8 feet in thickness, and doubleplated with two-inch iron, She was fitted with a tower and turret; also, with a formidable benk Sbe carried two 7-inch, and four 6-inch rifled guns, which cast projectiles respectively weighing 110 and 95 pounds, She was propelled by two powerful engines.