Page images


captured, much to the impatience of the the most unworthy considerations, with shipping interest of the Atlantic States, the Southern rebellion. and the chagrin of the Department, the Sailing from Maranham, the Sumter, latter was never caught. The steamer on the 25th September, overtook and cap

. Powhatan had been in quest of her tured the bark Joseph Park, Captain T. L. since the capture of the Abby Bradford, Briggs, from Pernambuco to Turk's Island, which put her in possession of papers and a day or two afterward, fearful of affording indications of her movements. losing the company of his prize, Captain That United States ship had sought her Semmes brought his vessel alongside, on the coast of Cuba, at Curacoa, at Bar- transferred the stores of the bark to his badoes, and getting track of her at Suri- deck, and then having made a target of nam, eager for her prey, had pushed on her for awhile, set her on fire. One to Maranham, to find that the fortunate hundred and sixty-five sovereigns, with Sumter had left the harbor but three which Captain Briggs was commissioned days before. Owing to the necessity of to buy salt fell into the hands of Captain coaling, a slow operation in this port, Semmes. The captured crew appear to six days elapsed before the Powhatan bave been well treated, and three of could be ready to renew the chase. them were won over to enlist and share

A letter writer on board this vessel the fortunes of the privateer. It was gives an account of the state of affairs dull work now for the Sumter. “Nearly which he found existing at Maranham : one month," writes, on the 22d October, “The people," says he, "from the Gov- the officer whose journal of her cruise we ernor down are Sumter-mad, and politics have already cited,“ has elapsed since run as high as ever they did in the South the capture of the Joseph Park, and not

- the Brazilians sympathizing almost to a a single sail has been seen during that man with the secessionists, under the im- time. We think of the Yankee's boast, pression that the South was fighting the that their sails whiten the ocean !" It is battle of Brazil, fighting to protect their amusing to see how coolly these scapeproperty in slaves. Addresses were graces throw aside their nationality, and made by Captain Semmes to the Gov- how thoughtlessly they transfer their share ernor and people of Maranham, in which of the national boasting or honor, as it he used the most specious arguments to may be, to the Yankee portion of the prove that after the North had abolished race. This monotonous sailing in those slavery in the Southern States she would dull, equatorial regions to which the turn her attention to abolishing slavery Sumter was now limited by the Northern in the Brazilian empire. Of course the gun-boats, and other craft in search of arrival of the Powhatan was looked upon her, was however pleasantly relieved a with distrust, and a reward of five hun- day or two after by “a blessing from dred dollars (made by an American) to her guardian angel, in a pretty little any one who would knock a hole in her schooner the Daniel Trowbridge, crambottom, so that she could not follow the med with everything in the eating line we Sumter, was received with great favor."* could desire. Early this morning (conThe cordial reception given to this ma- tinues with unction the enthusiastic rauding crew by the provincial or in- journalist of the cruise on the 29th of sular representatives of nations with October), a boat was sent off to the prize which the United States were on the for a supply of fresh provisions, and rebest of terms, exhibits a singular per- turned with sheep, pigs, potatoes and an versity of sympathy, based generally on abundant supply of fowl-luxuries we • The pursuit of the Sumter. Moore's Rebellion Record, During the excellent dinner we enjoyed

had not indulged in for a long time. * .

III., 262.



to-day, many thanks were expressed for some of her crew set to work at somethe kindness of Uncle Abe in thus re- thing on her forecastle--doubtless mount. membering us in our hour of need-of ing the forward pivot gun, a 120-poundfresh provisions."

er. The Iroquois is a magnificent looking During the following week the Sumter crast, bark-rigged, carrying six heavy overhauled a number of vessels, but, guns. As soon as she hoisted the United greatly to the disappointment of her States flag crowds of people collected crew, they were all protected by the on the quays to get a good look at her, British flag. On the 9th of November some of them even expecting that she she put in at the French harbor of Port would give us battle then and there. Royal, in Martinique, and a few days Preparations were immediately made for after removed to the commercial town this event. Our ship was cleared for of St. Pierre, in the same island. It was action.

It was action. The carpenter's gang were set here that she had the narrowest escape to work making shot-plugs. At twilight from capture of any recorded on her all hands were mustered on the quarterlog. The United States steamer Iroquois, deck, where small arms were served Commander James S. Palmer, was on out; and look-outs were doubled fore the 12th of September coaling at the and aft. November 15. Last night neighboring island of St. Thomas, when about 11 o'clock, the Iroquois was seen word was brought of the presence of the approaching the Sumter. Immediately Sumter at Martinique. Hurrying off on all hands were called with as little noise the instant, in thirty-six hours Captain as possible. No drum beat to quarters ; Palmer was at St. Pierre. "On turn- but 'boys, rouse up, the Iroquois is ing into the harbor,” says he, in his dis- alongside ready to grapple us !' was sufpatch, " I discovered a suspicious steam- ficient to clear the gun-deck of hammocks er, which, as we approached proved to in a remarkably short space of time. be the Sumter, flying the secession flag, The gun-deck being already cleared for moored to the wharf, in the midst of this action, was properly lighted ; the guns populous town, quietly coaling. The were manned, the magazine was opened, town and shipping in the harbor were and the surgeon and his assistant stood instantly all excitement. I could not by. Our big pivot-gun bore directly on attack her in this position for humanity's the Iroquois." sake, even were I disposed to be regard- This, it was very evident, was not a less of the neutrality of the port. I did condition of things to be tolerated long in not anchor, but cruised around the har- a harbor of the French Empire. In the bor within half gun-shot of her during morning the national man-of-war Achthe night."

eron arrived from Port Royal, and her These demonstrations caused some- Captain, by direction of the Governor, thing of a fluttering on board the Sum- requested Captain Palmer “no longer to ter. The officer's journal of her cruise compromise the neutrality of the French describes the arrival and this proceed waters by establishing a blockade within ing of the United States vessel. No- their jurisdiction, but to anchor, when vember 14. The Iroquois has arrived ! every hospitality and facility would be When first opening the harbor she was afforded, or to take a position without disguised ; her yards were braced every the distance of a marine league from way, the Danish flag flying at her peak. shore." Captain Palmer accordingly deBut this ruse did not deceive us, for cided upon anchoring, and had no soonmany had seen her before. Having er done so, than he received a visit from taken her position in front of the harbor the French commander, in the course of she hoisted the Stars and Stripes, while / which he was reminded of a point of international law in Wheaton, that one er, eager for action, than this animated belligerent could not depart until twen- dispatch of Captain Palmer. On the ty-four hours after the other. In conse- 23d he writes again : “ It is now the quence of this information, Captain Pal- ninth day that I have been blockading mer fearing that the Sumter, having the Sumter. She lies still at the wharf, steam on, would gain this advantage, in- surrounded by more or less of a crowd stantly pulled up his anchor, and got un- day and night, all anxious for her escape, der weigh before the French captain left sympathizing with their fellow Frenchthe ship. He then took his position at men of the State of Louisiana, to which the mouth of the harbor, outside of the State they believe the Sumter to belong. marine league, intently waiting for the .... Thus far we have had the moon, departure of his expected prize. but it is now waning fast, and, with the

It was a difficult task which Captain most intense watching and devotion, I Palmer now undertook. "To blockade fear I may yet have to report her escape. such a bay as this,” he wrote to Secre- Would that there were another fast steamtary Welles on the night of the 18th er to watch the other point of the bay. of November, " which is almost an open I have some understanding with some roadstead, fifteen miles in width, the loyal people on shore, to notify by signal surrounding land very high, and the of her departure. The French will water very bold, obliged as we are by doubtless think it a great outrage upon the neutrality of the laws, to blockade at their neutrality, but they will have to three miles distance, it would require at pocket this, as I have been as forbearing least two more fast steamers, and a ves- as they can expect, and nothing but the sel of war of any description in port, to feeling of the impolicy of bringing on notify us by signal of her departure, to hostilities between my country and give any reasonable hope of preventing France makes me subunit with anything ber escape. Even now, moonlight though like grace. it be, she may yet creep out under That very night it turned out as Capshadow of the land, and no one be able tain Palmer had feared. The Sumter to perceive her ; she being always able escaped his most vigilant efforts. At to observe my position, open to sea- 8 o'clock in the evening he was signalled wards. Though I have made arrange from the shore that the privateer had ments to be informed by signal of her shipped to the southward. “Instantly, departure from shore, I fear I cannot continues Captain Palmer in his final depend upon the parties, so fearful are dispatch, " we were off in pursuit, soon they of the authorities and of popular at full speed, rushing down to the Southindignation. I have done all I can, and ern part of the bay, but nothing was if she escapes me, we must submit to the visible on the dark background. distress and mortification. I wish the small steamer, apparently one plying Sumter were anywhere else except in between St. Pierre and Port Royal, was this port or under French protection. off the point making signals, doubtless The authorities here, under plea of for the benefit of the Sumter. But we neutrality, are throwing every obstacle could see nothing of her as we proceedin my way, in the way of communicating ed on, so dark was the shadow thrown with the shore. They are so full of by the highland. Still we went on, punctilio, and withal so polished, that it all searching the darkness in vain. So is provoking to have anything to do soon as I had opened Port Royal Point, with them.”

and seen on tho now open horizon, I Nothing could more fully reflect the concluded that we had passed her, or impatience of a high-spirited command that she had doubled on us and gone to



the northward. I then turned, keeping to determine the character of this craft. close to the shore, looking into her The darkness was so intense that it was former anchorage, thinking she might impossible to make her out at first. A possibly have returned. No sign of her blundering quarter-master pronounced there. We continued on to the north- her to be an armed steamer ; after a ward, but when we opened the port minute of anxious suspense, she was nothing of her this way.” Thus baffled, transformed into a sailing frigate, lying despairing in which direction to turn, broadside on; and, finally, while we Captain Palmer turned back to complete were in momentary expectation of an his coaling at St. Thomas.

attack, she proved to be a harmless little It is interesting to compare with this fore-and-aft schooner. About a quarter vivid account of the pursuit the no less of an hour was lost in making out this animating officer's narrative of the es- vessel. The engine was again set in cape. The Sumter, in the entry of the motion, and in a few minutes the Sumter Diary, November 23, “is once more in was rounding the point. After she passblue water. Every preparation having ed Diamond Rock she gave the land a been made, the ship being in good sail- wider heading for the open sea. ing trim, a portion of her stores placed It should have been stated that a large on the spar-deck, to be hove overboard and brilliant light, which was placed to lighten her in case it was necessary; astern of the Sumter, in the window of a precisely as the eight o'clock gun was building near the cathedral, every night fired she slipped her anchor, and steam- after the arrival of the Iroquois, was ed slowly out to sea, keeping close under hauled down as soon as the former got cover of the land. Scarcely had her pro- under way. Four lights, seemingly on a peller revolved a dozen times before a flag-staff, were placed one above anothblue light appeared at the mast-head of er, on a house-top, supposed to be that the only Yankee ship in port. Then a of the United States consul ; after being second signal was displayed on shore, displayed about five minutes they were and then another. The engine was put out, one at a time. The vessel that stopped. The Sumter was now abreast raised a blue light to her mast-head was of the French war steamer, which was the same one that hauled down the Britunder the guns of the fort, but nothing ish flag which she had flown ever since could be seen of the Iroquois. The en- the Sumter had been in port, and hoisted gine was again started ; our ship moving her proper colors, the Stars and Stripes, very slowly, and still closely hugging as soon as the Iroquois arrived." the land. When nearly opposite the Captain Palmer learned at St. Pierre southern point, the Sumter was seen that the Sumter had purchased sea-jackbearing down on us; but as we were so ets for her crew, which led him to think completely under cover of the land, it she might intend a cruise in northern was not likely that she saw us. The waters, though he hardly supposed that Sumter's prow was turned in the direc- she would be adequate for winter sertion of the other, but afterward she ran vice in that quarter. She had somecloser into the harbor, all the time thing, however, no less hazardous in watching every movement of the Iro- prospect, namely, a winter passage across quois. Seeing that she was still watch the Atlantic. Before undertaking this, ing the southern point, the Sumter shot however, she made prizes of several valacross to the northern point at her ful- uable vessels in the western Atlantic. lest speed. Just before she reached the One of these, the Montmorenci, of Bath, point, a vessel was seen a little a-head with a cargo of 1,800 tons of coal, conof her. The engine was again stopped signed to British residents at St. Thomas,


in consideration of that friendly nation, part, it was thought on board the SumCommander Semmes generously allowed ter, by the exertions of the United to go on their way, politely taking a States consul at the port. A day's sailbond to the value of the ship, drawn in ing brought the privateer, after "overbis favor by the captain. Another day hauling a couple of Yankees” by the he captured and burnt the schooner Ar- way, "under the guns of Gibraltar the cade of Portland, Maine. On the 3d of impregnable,” from which friendly shelDecember a large ship was overhauled, ter she appeared in no haste to depart. the Vigilant, bound to Sombrero Island Nearly a month afterwards the Tuscarora, for guano. Her crew, all blacks, says which had been for some time engaged in the Diary, “were terribly frightened on watching the Confederate steamer Nashseeing the Sumter. When the prize- ville, came to Gibraltar to keep a look crew boarded her the negroes could out on the Sumter. Then, toward the hardly be prevented from jumping over- end of February, came the diversion of board, and when they came aboard the the seizure of the paymaster of the SumSumter they acted as though their hour ter. He went over in a French steamer had come. Some of them verily believed to Tangier, on the opposite shore, when that they would have to walk a plank. he was taken possession of according to The Vigilant was stripped of everything a privilege of the State of Morocco, by we wanted and then fired. We took the United States Consul, who arrested from her a nine-pounder rifled gun, him for piracy or treason, and sent him which is mounted on the forecastle in home to America a prisoner on board place of the one hove overboard in run- the national sloop-of-war Ino. These ning the blockade of the Mississippi." loyal policemen of the seas, in fact, began The last day of the year the Sumter to be uncomfortably frequent about the counted up as her trophies, the running resting place of the Sumter, which had of two blockades, escape from a fleet of also discovered that her boilers were gun-boats, ransacking the Gulf of Mex- worn out, quite unfit for sea ; so one ico and the Caribbean sea, the capture day, the 9th of April, the crew was paid of sixteen valuable prizes, visits to the off and discharged, and the valiant Sumports of seven nationalities, and frail ter laid up "until after the expiration bark as she was admitted to be, the pas- of the war." sage of the Atlantic in mid-winter.

As part of the public history of this On the 4th of January, 1862, she ran redoubtable vessel we may cite the into Cadiz, boldly challenging the hospi- paragraph devoted to her depredations, talities of old Spain. But the Dons had and those of others, and the attempts made up their minds as to her character, made to capture her in the annual reand that of the pseudo government from port of Secretary Welles of the Navy which she professed to derive her com- Department. " It was natural," said he, mission, and had no civilities to expend " that apprehensions should prevail in upon her. Captain Semmes was imme- regard to armed cruisers, commissioned diately and peremptorily ordered to leave expressly by the rebel leaders, to deprethe port within twenty-four hours. He date upon our commerce.

This robbery pleaded distress, and was allowed to re- of merchants and others engaged in main for repairs, and at the end of ten peaceful and lawful pursuits, by piratical days left this punctilious people utterly cruisers, is not inconsistent with the gendissatisfied, unable to obtain what was eral conduct of those who have violated required—not a bucket of coal, the sale law and moral obligations to gratify inwas forbidden,” and the loser by deser- ordinate ambition. Our extended comtion of seven of her crew, induced to de- | merce presented inducements for pirat.

« PreviousContinue »