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A LETTER FROM CAPTAIN SEMMES.
ical warfare, yet but few of our misguided just given, “would seem to show that, countrymen have prostituted themselves although it was penned ostensibly against to the purposes of plunder, though there- myself, it was, in fact, levelled at those to invited, and these few have been in European powers which had acknowconstant flight to escape the avenging ledged the Confederate States to be a power of our vigilant naval forces. Such lawful belligerent in the war which had of these cruisers as eluded the blockade been forced upon them. On no other and capture were soon wrecked, beach- supposition could it charge me with 'robed, or sunk, with the exception of one, bery' on the high seas, and with being a the steamer Sumter, which, by some piratical rover.' A pirate is hostis fatality, was permitted to pass the humani generis, and may be seized and Brooklyn, then blockading one of the summarily dealt with by any and all passes of the Mississippi, and, after a the nations of the earth; but the fact is, brief and feeble chase by the latter, was these officers of the defunct Federal allowed to proceed on her piratical voy- Union are so blinded by their venom age. An investigation of this whole oc- against the South that they have no currence was ordered by the Depart- longer the power to distinguish between ment. Soon the Niagara and the Pow- terms. Mr. Welles, also, in imitation of hatan, from the Gulf squadron, followed the dirty and mendacious Press of the in vigorous pursuit, the latter, though Yankee States, calls me a privateer. He long in commission, and with defective knows better than this. He knows that boilers and machinery, under her ener- a privateer is a vessel that bears a letter getic commander, tracking the piratical of marque, and that I am cruising under craft as far as Maranham. The Key- no such letter. He knows that I have stone State, Richmond, Iroquois, and been regularly commissioned as a shipSan Jacinto, were also in search of her of-war of the Confederate States. If at different points and periods. Although he and his deluded associates insist a piratical rover, without license from upon calling the citizens of the Confedany recognized or acknowledged gov- erate States rebels,' under the idea that' ernment, and avowedly engaged in the those States still form a part of the old robbery and plunder of our citizens, I Yankee concern, then he might characregret to say this vessel has been re- terize me as a rebel man-of-war. But if ceived and her wants supplied, against I am this, so were all the ships of the the remonstrance of our Consuls, by American colonies commissioned by the public authorities in many foreign ports Virginian George Washington. Mr. where her character was well known." Welles tells the President and Congress,
Captain Semmes who appears to have that by 'some fatality,' I ran the blockreceived this public document on his ar- ade of New Orleans, and that he has orrival at Cadiz, wrote from that place a dered the whole affair to be investigated. trenchant and very peculiar letter to With the blind rage of a baffled mad the London Times, which, as it throws man, quem Deus vult perdere, etc., he considerable light upon the spirit or will no doubt endeavor to crush the frame of mind in which its writer re- harmless and inoffensive commander of garded and conducted the extraordinary the Brooklyn, who, poor man, did his service in which he was engaged, we best. He says, also, that he has had six may here present to the reader. “The of his largest and fastest steamers in closing paragraph,” says he, "of the pursuit of me, and that the commander above elegant extract from an American of one of them was so energetic as to State paper," alluding to the passage perform the wonderful feat of tracking from Mr. Welles' report wnich we have me as far as Maranham, in Brazil. This,
I suppose, is one of those daring acts, Island of Martinique, in the face of one the officer being in command of a heavy of the fastest and finest of his Yankee frigate - which called forth the pane- ships, the Iroquois, and which is more gyric of the Yankee navy, which we find than twice my force. Poor Captain Palin a subsequent part of Mr. Welles' re-mer, I fear that he, too, will be immoport, for, after praising his clerks, this lated on the altar of the Universal Yanofficer goes on to remark: "To the kee Nation,' because he did not catch patriotic officers of the navy, and the the Sumter, though, from all we can brave men who, in various scenes of learn, he had fits on the occasion. This naval action, have served under them, honorable captain is indeed a fit reprethe Department and the Government sentative of the honor of Yankee Doodlejustly owe an acknowledgement even dom, for he violated the sovereignty of more earnest and emphatic,' than that France, and his own solemn pledge at they owe to his clerks! Oh! for a the same time, given to the commanding James to pourtray these 'scenes of naval French naval officer present, by causing action,' confined to a predatory warfare blue lights (brought all the way, no on the Potomac river, directed chiefly doubt, from New London, Conn.), to be against women and children ; to the cap- burnt on board a Yankee schooner in ture of a sandbag battery at Hatteras ; the harbor, to signal to him my departo the masterly movement of the great ture. But I only allude to this en pasDupont, the greatest naval commander sant, as France is abundantly able to of the age,' in Yankee hyperbole, who take care of her own honor,not only knows how to use gunpowder,
“ If the universal Yankee nation but, with Yankee thrift, to turn an honest
Can whip all creation !" penny by selling it to the Government ; When Mr. Welles learns, too, that on and to the pursuit of the piratical Sum- my way hither I burnt three more Yanter, away ever so far, even to the shores kee ships, and liberated a fourth, only of Brazil, by the gallant Porter, who because she had an English cargo on probably for this fact—so little material board, he will probably send six more has Mr. Welles for heroes—will be made of his doughty war-ships after me—that a 'flag officer.' I feel honored to have is to say, if he can spare them from been thus pursued by six frigates, and burning corn-cribs and frightening woif one of them caught Messrs. Mason and men and children along our Southern Slidell, instead of catching me, why that coast. He will take especial care, too, is John Bull's affair, and not mine. But to put plenty of men and guns on board I am fleeing from these ships, says Mr. of them, for otherwise I might not be Welles. Soft, Mr. Welles ! He would in such constant flight to escape the have me fall into a Yankee trap he has avenging power of our vigilant naval set for me, and rush to the encounter of forces.' A word or two more and I his six frigates, the least of which is have done. What can wise Mr. Welles twice my size, and of more than twice mean when he objects to the robbery my weight of metal. He dares not send of merchants and others engaged in a ship of equal force to meet me, and if peaceful commerce and lawful pursuits ?' he did dare do so, being safely ensconced Does he not know that all property, himself in his arm-chair, 1 venture to say with rare exceptions, captured on the that the officer would not dare to find high seas, is property belonging to 'merme. But I have to inform Mr. Welles chants and others engaged in peaceful that by the same fatality,' I have run commerce and lawful pursuits ?" Why another blockade. I have lately steam- this senseless diatribe, then, about robed out of the port of St. Pierre, in the bery and piracy, and private property
and peaceful commerce, and lawful pur- Welles ! The fact is, that this Northern suits? If Mr. Welles would give me an horde of the Alani, which is bearing opportunity of capturing some of his pub- down upon the sunny fields of the South, lic property, I would be much obliged to in imitation of their ancient prototypes, him. But he takes very good care not has (while Mr. Welles is singing this to do this, by sending his heaviest ships hypocritical song) set all the rules of
and have the Yankee naval civilized warfare at defiance, and capofficers in those scenes of naval action' tured private property on the land as in which they have distinguished them- well as on the sea. The gallant Dupont selves, refrained from the capture of pri- laid his unscrupulous hands upon all the vate property ? I saw recently in a Yan-cotton he could find at Beaufort-a few kee paper an account of a wood-sloop- bales only, as it happened—and, first that is, a sloop loaded with firewood, and last, many brilliant achievements in having been most gallantly' captured the way of stealing negroes and robbing and burnt the other day on the Poto- and burning private residences, have mac, and a number of other small craft, been accomplished by these Northmen belonging to the poor people along the amid the various scenes of naval accoast, have been captured from time to tion,' in which they have flourished. time and sent to Yankeedom for adjudi- But I grow tired of the subject, and I cation. Even fishermen have been sub- fear I have already trespassed too much jected to the same fate—a class exempt upon your space and patience. I am by all civilized nations. But I suppose reminded, too, of the old adage, that it is only when the vessel is a fine one 'he who meddles with pitch shall be deof 1,000 tons, belongs to a Yankee, and filed,' and so I will take leave of Mr. is captured by the Sumter, that the Gideon Welles and his scurrilous report. property becomes private--astute Mr.-R. SEMMES.”
THE UPPER POTOMAC AND BATTLE OF BALL'S BLUFF, VA., OCTOBER 21, 1861.
SHORTLY after the battle of Bull Run, ciently near to keep up a military superGeneral Banks, the successor of Gen- vision of the enemy, should they attempt eral Paterson, in the Department of any hostile movements. The policy of the Shenandoah, withdrew the Union evacuating Harper's Ferry was obvious, troops from Harper's Ferry, by a ford in view of the outlying enemy in Virabove the burnt bridge, over the Poto- ginia, and the necessity of organizing the mac to the Maryland side of the river. newly-arrived regiments of volunteers, This movement was made on Sunday, who came to take the place of the now the 28th of July. The Union troops rapidly departing three months' militia then in possession of the Maryland men. The service on the river, indeed, Heights, where the battery of Major was well calculated to afford the new Doubleday, of Fort Sumter memory, troops a practical experience of the art fully commanded the opposite town and of war, since their camps were constantly its neighboring defences, were encamped liable to attack, and there were frequent along the river in the neighborhood at minor conflicts with the enemy, keeping Sandy Hook, and other localities suffi- the division always on the alert. Among
other skirmishes with the foe, there was in that unsettled country. On the opena spirited attack by Captain Bush of ing of the present war, Colonel Geary Lockport, N. Y., at the head of a de- left his retirement in Pennsylvania to tachment of the New York 28th Volun- raise a regiment for the war. This he teers, mostly composed of firemen, on readily accomplished, and at the head the 5th of August, upon a squad of rebel of the 28th Regiment of State Voluncavalry, on the Virginia side, opposite teers, his command speedily proved one Point of Rocks, when five of the enemy of the most important acquisitions of the were killed, three wounded, and nine service. “The affair above Darneston," taken prisoners, with the capture of says Colonel Geary, in his dispatch to twenty horses.* A week later a detach- General McClellan, " was a spirited one, ment of a hundred men of the New York lasting about two hours. 19th Volunteers, under Captain Ken- was driven from every house and breastnedy, left the camp at Sandy Hook to work which they occupied. Eight or ten attack a body of rebel cavalry which of them are said to be killed, and a numhad made their appearance at Loudon ber wounded. Our loss was one killed. county. Captain Kennedy crossed the Our victory was complete. The troops river shortly after midnight, and reached behaved admirably. Our cannon were Lovettsville, some seven miles distant indispensable, and rendered good service through a rocky pass, about daylight. in this action." Disappointed in finding the enemy at that Early in October there was something place, they were returning, when word of greater importance in his command was brought to them that Stewart's cav- for Colonel Geary to communicate. On alry had reoccupied the town. Upon the 8th of the month Major J. P. Gould, , hearing this, they turned back, charged of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteers, upon the town, and drove the enemy was sent across the river to seize a before them.
quantity of wheat held by the rebels at On the 15th of September there was the mills, a few miles above Harper's an attack by about 450 of the enemy Ferry. His arrival on the Virginia upon the right of the pickets of Colonel shore appears to have been the signal John W. Geary, about three miles above for the concentration of a body of the Darnestown, opposite Pritchard's Mills. enemy in the neighborhood. Colonel This officer, to whom the command of Geary was called upon for reinforcethe troops, immediately opposite Har- ments, which he promptly supplied, per's Ferry, was assigned, was an emi- crossing himself on the 14th, aiding in nent citizen of Pennsylvania, whose mili- the removal of the wheat, and holding tary zeal had been displayed in the the enemy in check. The troops unMexican war, in command, on the field, der his command on the Virginia side, of a regiment of volunteers from that were four companies of his own 28th State. He was wounded at Chapultepec, Pennsylvania regiment, three companies and distinguished himself in the attack of the 13th Massachusetts, and three of upon the capital. On the conclusion of the 3d Wisconsin, in all about 600 men. the war he became a resident of Califor- He had with him also two pieces of nia, and was elected the first mayor of cannon under command of Captain TompSan Francisco. His subsequent appoint- kins of the Rhode Island battery, and ment by President Buchanan as Gov- two pieces of the 9th New York battery, ernor of Kansas, will be remembered under Lieutenant Martin. Major Gould among the attempts to introduce order was placed in command of the troops left
on the Maryland side, 100 men of the * Berlin, Md., correspondence of the New York Tribune, Massachusetts regiment, and four pieces August 9, 1861.
of artillery on the heights, and com- took position near the old rifle works, manding the approaches from Harper's and during the action rendered good Ferry Having accomplished his ob- service there. There then remained unject, in the capture of the flour, Colonel der my immediate command about four Geary was about to recross the river hundred and fifty men. With these the when, on the morning of the 16th, his fierce charge of the enemy's cavalry was pickets, stationed on the heights above soon checked and turned back, only to Bolivar, extending from the Potomac to be renewed with greater impetuosity, the Shenandoah river, about two and a supported, in addition to the artillery, half miles west of Harper's Ferry, were by the fire of long lines of infantry stadriven into the town of Bolivar by the tioned on Bolivar Heights; but they were enemy, who approached from the west in as soon repulsed. Three charges were three columns, consisting of infantry and thus made by them in succession. Under cavalry, supported by artillery. "I this concentrated fire our troops held was upon the ground,” continues Colonel their position until eleven o'clock, when Geary, in his report of the action which Lieutenant Martin, by my order, joined ensued, “and rallied my pickets upon me with one rifled cannon, which had the main body in Bolivar. In a short been placed to cover the ferry, he havtime the action became general. The ing crossed the river with it under a advanced guard of the rebels, consisting galling fire of riflemen from Loudon of several hundred cavalry, charged gal- Heights. I then pushed forward my lantly toward the upper part of the town, right flank, consisting of two companies and their infantry and artillery soon (A and G) of the 28th Pennsylvania took position upon the heights, from Volunteers. They succeeded in turning which my pickets had been driven. the enemy's left near the Potomac, and Their three pieces of artillery were sta- gained a portion of the heights. At the tioned on and near the Charlestown road, same time Lieutenant Martin opened a where it crosses Bolivar Heights. They well-directed fire upon the enemy's canhad one thirty-two-pounder columbiad, non in our front, and Captain Tompkins one steel rified thirteen pounder, and succeeded in silencing some of the enemy's one brass six-pounder, all of which were guns on Loudon Heights. The services, served upon the troops of my command simultaneously rendered, were of great with great activity, the large gun throw- importance, and the turning of the ing alternately solid shot, shell and enemy's flank being the key to the sucgrape, and the others principally fuse cess of the action, I instantly ordered a shell. While these demonstrations were general forward movement, which terbeing made in front, a large body of minated in a charge, and we were soon men made their appearance upon Lou- in possession of the heights from river to don Heights, with four pieces of cannon, river. There I halted the troops, and stationed at the most eligible points of from that position they drove the fugithe mountain, to bombard our troops tives, with a well-directed aim of cannon and prevent the use of the ferry on the and small arms, across the valley in the Potomac. The commencement of the direction of Hallstown. If any cavalry firing upon our front and left was al- had been attached to my command the most simultaneous. In order to pre- enemy could have been cut to pieces, as vent the enemy from crossing the Shen- they did not cease their flight until they andoah, I detached a company of the reached Charlestown, a distance of six 13th Massachusetts regiment, under com- miles. Immediately after the capture mand of Captain Schriber, for the de- of the Heights, Major Tyndale arrived fence of the fords on the river. He with a reinforcement of five companies