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Cruise and Captures of the Alabama   By:

Cruise and Captures of the Alabama by Albert M. Goodrich

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[Illustration: CONFEDERATE STATES STEAMER ALABAMA.]

CRUISE AND CAPTURES OF THE ALABAMA

BY ALBERT M. GOODRICH

MINNEAPOLIS THE H. W. WILSON CO. 1906

Copyright 1906, by Albert M. Goodrich.

LUMBER EXCHANGE PRINTING CO.

PREFACE.

The publication of the naval records of the Rebellion, both Union and Confederate, makes it possible to take a comprehensive view of the career of the famous cruiser. In addition to these, Captain Semmes kept a diary, which after the close of the war he expanded into a very full memoir. Various officers of the vessel also kept diaries, and wrote accounts of their adventures, The long report of the Geneva Tribunal of Arbitration, and various consular reports contain a great deal of information in regard to the Alabama's inception and operations. All this voluminous material has been gone over with care in the preparation of this volume, and the facts are set forth in a trustworthy, and it is hoped also, in a readable form.

CRUISE AND CAPTURES OF THE ALABAMA.

CHAPTER I.

ENGLAND AND THE BLOCKADE.

In the decade preceding the Civil War in America the carrying trade of the United States had grown into a vast industry. The hardy seamen of New England had flung out the stars and stripes to every breeze, and cast anchor in the most remote regions where a paying cargo might be found. Up to October, 1862, they hardly felt that they had more at stake in the war of the Rebellion than any other loyal citizens. But in that month the news swept along the seaboard that the Alabama lay within a few days' sail of their harbors, dealing out swift vengeance upon all Northern vessels which came in her way.

Whether or not the decline of American shipping is principally due to unwise legislation, certain it is that its downfall dates from the appearance in the mid Atlantic of this awful scourge of the seas. Northern newspapers called the craft a pirate, and no other word seemed to the New England sea captains adequate to describe the ruthless destroyer. Although regularly commissioned by the Confederate government, she never entered a Confederate port from the time she left the stocks until she tried conclusions with the Kearsarge off the coast of France; and this, together with the further fact that her crew was chiefly of European origin largely English was used as an argument that she could not be considered as a legitimate vessel of war. None of the great nations of the world adopted this view, however, and she was everywhere accorded the same treatment that was extended to war vessels of the United States.

Early in 1861 there sprang up in England a thriving trade in arms and munitions of war. While the cotton spinners of Lancashire were suffering from the loss of their usual supply of raw material, owing to the blockade of the ports of the Confederacy, the merchants of Liverpool were turning their attention to supplying the belligerants with the equipment necessary for the continuance of the conflict. Sales were made directly or indirectly to the Federal government, but the higher prices offered in the South tempted many to engage in the more hazardous traffic with the government at Richmond.

As the blockade gradually became more efficient, insurance companies refused longer to take the risk of loss on Southern commerce. But it still went on. The owners of a blockade runner were certain of enormous profits if they could succeed in getting through the lines, but, if captured, both vessel and cargo were confiscated by the Federal prize courts. The sleepy little village of Nassau in the Bahama islands awoke to find itself a great commercial emporium, and immense quantities of goods were soon collected there, awaiting transshipment within the Confederate lines.

According to the law of nations, vessels of neutral countries were not subject to seizure, unless actually attempting to run the blockade... Continue reading book >>




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