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COLONIA

LIEUTENANT SEMMES.

remained in the fast-sinking ship to share ing himself in the midst of the operations the fortunes of his comrades in a plunge for the reduction of the capital, became into the deep. Being a good swimmer attached as aid-de-camp to General he reached a floating portion of the Worth, and bore his part in the battles wreck, and was presently rescued in the in the valley of Mexico—of all which, midst of the tempest by his ship's boat with the entry into the city, and his prereturning from the shore. Of seventy- vious naval service on the coast, he six persons composing the crew of the afterwards published an interesting acSomers, thirty-nine were lost in this dis- count, in a well-written volume, entitled aster. The entire conduct of Lieutenant “ Service Afloat and Ashore during the Semmes in this emergency appears to Mexican War." have been marked by exemplary pre- A passage from that work, in the consence of mind.*

cluding portion, where the author estiLieutenant Semmes was then reattached mates “the great advantages which are to the Flag-ship, and continued in ser- to accrue both to Mexico and ourselves" vice in the squadron till the following from the war with that country, curiousApril, when he was employed on a mis ly exhibits the sentiments of the author sion into the interior to the Mexican in 1851, when his book was published, Government, to secure the safety of in reference to some of the political quesMidshipman R. C. Rogers, who, while tions directly involved in the great Reattached to the Somers, had been cap- bellion in which Lieutenant Semmes tured on the shore in an attempt at became so active a participant. “In night to gain information of the topo- my opinion,” says he, “the salvation of graphy of the country, with a view to the our institutions depends, in a great dedestruction of a powder magazine of the gree upon a reasonable extension of our enemy. The Mexicans, it was stated, limits. This is the only thing which threatened to try him as a spy, and will rob faction of its bitterness, if it Lieutenant Semmes was charged by Com- does not entirely destroy it. Fanaticism, modore Perry with a mission to the whether religious, political or social, is proper Minister in Mexico, to demand always local ; it never spreads unless his release. At Jalapa he had some cor- indeed it be spread as the great Arabian respondence with General Scott on the enthusiast spread his faith by the sword. object of his journey, that officer think. And the reason why it does not spread ing that the matter, with other arrange- is, that it is error ; and error, although it ments for the exchange of prisoners, may be contagious in small districts, like should be left in his hands. The affair the plague, can never inundate a vast ended in sending forward Captain Kear-country. Of what comparative importney from Puebla with a flag of truce ance is it at the present day, when our to negotiate an exchange. Lieutenant immense territory extends from the AtSemmes accompanied theflag, and some in- lantic to the Pacific oceans ; that a meeteffectual negotiations were had at the out- ing to denounce a law of the Union, or posts of the army, when the object of the for any other disloyal and treasonable expedition, so far as Lieutenant Semmes purpose, is held in Faneuil Hall, in the was specially concerned, was brought to good city of Boston ? The little actors an end by the appearance of Midship- on this little stage may make themselves man Rogers himself in Puebla, after an as ridiculous as they please, but the adventurous escape from the City of President of this great Republic will Mexico. Lieutenant Semmes then find- quietly point them to the map, to remind

them that the Massachusetts of the old * Lieutenant Semmes to Commodore Perry, U. S. frigate Raritan, December 10, 1846.

thirteen is not the Massachusetts of the

L

thirty-forty-fifty-a hundred States ! longer Britannia, but America, rules And that she is as powerless now for the waves. But it would require a volevil as she was formerly powerful for ume to enumerate all the advantages good. The Federal officers, armed with which have accrued, and are yet to aca posse comitatus, if need be, from the crue to us, from the Mexican war.!* * Pacific, will disperse her mobs, however It is to be regretted that Captain composed, and execute the process which Semmes thought himself called upon to represents the majesty of twenty-thirty relinquish these encouraging prospects

— forty — fifty millions of people. As of a mighty empire for the revolutionary our territorial limits increase, the indi- project of its destruction. When the vidual States will become less and less Southern rebellion ripened to actual reimportant, and local jealousies and heart- volt, he abandoned the service of the burnings will scarcely produce more ef- national Government, and, in command fect upon the nation at large than does of the Sumter, became one of the most the gossiping of a remote village upon a active agents of the Confederates. metropolitan city. Shay's Rebellion in The first notice we have of this vessel Massachusetts, and the Whisky Rebellion in the rebel service is in the message of in Pennsylvania threw the whole country President Jefferson Davis, in April, 1861, into commotion, and caused the Execu-to the Provisional Congress at Montgomtive much anxiety and a good deal of ery. He there speaks of her as one of trouble before they could be quelled. two purchased vessels, which had been We should regard these things at the named the Sumter and Macree, and present day as mere 'tempests in a tea- which were then being prepared for pot.' And where is the solution for this ? sea with all possible dispatch. The In the fact that then St. Mary's in Geor- Sumter was formerly the Marquis de la gia was our southern boundary, whereas Habana, a propeller steamer plying benow our flag floats proudly on the shores tween Havana and New Orleans as a of the boundless Pacific! The diversity packet, and always noted as an extraorof climates, productions and pursuits, dinary fast sailor. After the purchase will be so many additional motives for from the Spanish owners, she was enadhesion, making us, comparatively more tirely refitted for naval service; the dependent upon each other, and binding upper works with the cabins were reus together in one great free-trades' moved, to afford a clear deck, and new union. While these great ends are ac- machinery was inserted, working below complished, each State will be as inde- the water-line. Her armament consistpendent in all local concerns as before, ed of four 32-pounder rifled guns, and and except in a few prescribed particulars, one rifled 68 on a pivot, to which a 12will be, to all intents and purposes, soy-pounder field howitzer was added. Her ereign. It is this particularity of our chief officers, when she was placed in system which befits it for extension al- commission in the beginning of June, most ad infinitum, in contradistinction were Captain Semmes, Lieutenants John to central and consolidated governments. M. Kells, R. F. Chapman, W. E. Evans, As for commerce, it is only necessary to and J. M. Stripling, with a complement remark, that our Pacific front opens to of 114 men. She was shortly after us, and will enable us to monopolize al- brought down the river to the forts at most all the commerce of the East In the entrance, and the remainder of the dies, and of the west coast of America, month was passed in drill and preparanorth and south. This will make us the tion for sea, awaiting an opportunity for carriers and the factors of the world. running the blockade, which was mainTwenty years hence and it will be no

* Service Afloat and Ashore, pp. 473-4.

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tained at the mouth of the Mississippi by they were held for the benefit of the the United States steam sloops Brooklyn captors, under protection of the auand Powhatan. At length, on the last thorities till directions should be received dar of June, it being ascertained that the as to their disposal from the home govblockading vessels were temporarily out ernment. The matter immediately beof the way, the Sumter ran out to sea. came the subject of earnest remonstrance She had scarcely, however, crossed the from Washington, as a violation of the bar when the Brooklyn was perceived in Royal Proclamation, when the affair prechase of a sailing vessel, which was im- sently ended in the release of the vessels mediately given up for the pursuit of the to their rightful owners, an examination Sumter. A trial of speed now ensued of the case, proving to the satisfaction between the two war steamers with every of the Captain-General of the Island of inch of canvas spread, which was con- Cuba that the captures had been made tinued for several hours, when, by the in waters within the jurisdiction of the extraordinary efforts of the Confederate island, and under unlawful circumvessel-her field howitzer being thrown stances.*.. overboard to lighten her-she gained on One of these early prizes of the Sumher competitor, and the Brooklyn re- ter, the brig Cuba, failed to reach the turned to her station on the blockade. port of Cienfuegos, to which she had

When he perceived that the pursuit been ordered with the rest. On her was abandoned, Captain Semmes, re- capture a prize crew, consisting of a joicing in the liberty of the seas, called midshipman, two sailors, and two maall hands on deck, and gave three lusty rines, had been put on board of her, cheers for the Southern Confederacy. under whose threats she was navigated The first trophy of his cruise was the by her crew, till the 7th, when Captain capture, off the Isle of Pines, on the 3d Stront, with his officers, secured the arms, of July, of the ship Golden Rocket, of put the captors in irons, and regained Maine, of 600 tons, valued at $40,000. possession of the vessel. He presently The officers and crew were taken off, and sent the two sailors on to New York by after being rifled of specie, provisions, a brig which he fell in with, and purextra sails, and whatever was available, sued his way to the same port withthe ship was burnt to the water's edge. out further adventure than a somewhat “The flames,” says an enthusiastic sail threatening scene with the rebel prize or of the Sumter, in a letter intercepted officer, Midshipman A. D. Hudgins, a by one of our cruizers in the Gulf, Virginian, who had been educated at the "leaped wild and high. First the fire United States Naval Academy at Anascended the mizzen-mast, and ran along napolis. This person succeeded in getthe deck to the main, and then to the ting hold of a pistol, and mounted with foremast. I have seen many beautiful it to the maintop, from which place he sights, but this burning vessel was the held a parley with the Captain on deck, most sublimely-grand sight my eyes ever threatening his life if he should go bewitnessed." The next day Captain low for arms. Captain Stront, however, Semmes celebrated the national anni- not intimidated, went into the cabin, proversary by the capture of the brigan- cured a revolver, and called upon the tines Cuba and Machias, laden with gentleman to descend. To this at first sugar, both of Maine. On the 5th he paid no attention, but when two shots and 6th five other Northern vessels, were fired at him, one of which took effect also laden with sugar, fell prizes to the in his shoulder, the order was obeyed. Sumter. Seven of the captured vessels

seis * Mr. Tassara, Spanish Minister at Washington, to Mr.

M were carried in to Cienfuegos, where Soward, August 9, 1861.

Leaving Cienfuegos on the 7th of Consul. The mate and crew were carJuly, the Sumter continued her cruiseried by the Sumter to Port of Spain, among the West India Islands, "without in the British Island of Trinidad. Prehaving fallen in with anything” for ten viously to setting them free at that port days, when she put in at St. Anne's, Captain Semmes called the mate to his Curacoa, where she remained for a week room, and informed him that his object taking in large supplies of coals and pro- in bringing him and the crew to that visions. Her officers and crew were place was to ascertain whether any punmeanwhile hospitably entertained by the ishment had been inflicted on the crew inhabitants. "Our intercourse with the of the Savannah, because if there had citizens of this place," says the sailor in been he would have strung every man the intercepted letter just quoted, “was of them up to the yard-arm the moment very pleasant, and we left with regret.” he went outside of the Bocas, and that The authorities of the port were even he would hang every captain and crew zealous in their devotion to the interests he took afterward. * of the privateer. When one of her crew The Sumter arrived at Trinidad on deserted they ordered his arrest, and the 30th of July, landed her eight prisnot succeeding at once in finding him. oners in a destitute condition, and rethey promised to continue the search mained till the 5th of August taking in and hold the runaway in custody, " to supplies of coal and other necessary be surrendered to the pirate captain on outfits. The officers and crew were his return homeward to the Island." * civilly received, as private gentlemen, On the 25th, the second day out from by the authorities of the island and the the Dutch island, the Sumter captured officers of the British war vessel Cadmus, off Laguay ra, the schooner Abby Brad- Captain Hillyar," the most friendly inford of Boston, and carried her into tercourse exists between the two comPorto Cabello. The government of Vene- manders and their officers," says an zuela, having resolved to prohibit the officer of the Sumter, in his account of admission of all vessels bearing the Con- the cruise, “the English here treat us federate flag into its ports, except in more like princes than plain Republican cases of distress, the captured vessel | Americans” +-and it was further reportwas not received there, and was sent to ed to the Secretary of State at WashingNew Orleans with a prize crew. She ton, by Mr. Francis Bernard, a loyal was recaptured on her route to Ber- American on the island, that the English wicks' Bay, on the 13th of August, by flag had been hoisted on the Government the United States steamer Powhatan. flag-staff in honor of the arrival of the

The Sumter, unable to gain admission privateer. These circumstances were into the harbor at Porto Cabello, con- made a subject of remonstrance to the tinued her voyage on the Spanish main, British Government, as a violation of and presently fell in with and captured the rights and dignities of the United the bark Joseph Maxwell of Philadelphia, States, when they were in part explainladen with some 600 barrels of flour. ed, and in part justified, as within the She returned with this prize to Porto Ca- rules of the Queen's Proclamation. The bello, but the authorities still refusing an hoisting of the flag was represented by entrance to either vessel, a portion of Lord John Russell, in the absence of the crew of the Maxwell was landed, positive information on the subject, as and the vessel sent to Cienfuegos, where probably intended - to show the national she was handed over to the American

* A mercantile letter from Port of Spain, August 1, 1861.

New York Tribune, September 3, 1861. * Mr. Seward to Mr. Pike, Minister at the Hague, Au-! Cruise of the Sumter, from the private journal of one gust 15, 1861.

| of her officers. The Cornhill Magazine, August, 1862.

THE SUMTER AT GUIANA.

35

character of the island, and not in ac- ity from any lawful source whatever. knowledgment of the arrival of the Sum- The United States regard the vessel as ter.” The law officers of the Crown piratical, and the persons by whom she saw no illegality in the aid rendered to is manned and navigated as pirates." * the vessel. Mr. Seward, in his review The matter was adjusted by fresh inof the case, considered the explanations structions sent to the colonial authorities unsatisfactory, and protested against the of the Netherlands in October, enjoining conclusions of Her Majesty's Govern- them not to admit, unless in case of ment as an encouragement to piracy, shelter from stress, the vessels of war tending to the universal derangement of and privateers of the two belligerent commerce, and opposed to the common parties, unless for twice twenty-four interest of all civilized countries.* hours, and not to permit them when

Leaving Trinidad, the Sumter, after they are steamers, to provide themselves some ten days' voyaging, arrived off the with a quantity of coal more than sufharbor of the French port of Cayenne, ficient for a run of twenty-four hours. when, being denied admission, she sail. With this substantial abridgement of the ed to Paramaribo, in Dutch Guiana. rights of hospitality to the rebel vessels, There the hospitalities which had been so bountifully extended by the Dutch extended to the privateering vessel at colonists, the Government at WashingCuracoa, were abundantly renewed. ton rested content. “Felicitate the govThese attentions were not long after ernment of the Netherlands," wrote Mr. brought to the notice of the Govern- Seward at the end of the discussion to ment of the Netherlands by Mr. Sew- the Minister at the Hague, “as we feliciard, and the Minister at the Hague, Mr. tate ourselves on the renewed auguries Pike, who had been already engaged in of good and cordial relations between a voluminous discussion with Baron Von friends too old to be alienated thoughtZuylen, the Dutch Minister of Foreign lessly, or from mere impatience." + Affairs, on the questions growing out of Leaving Dutch Guiana on the 30th of the liberal reception of the Sumter at August, the Sumter sailed along the Curacoa, the Dutch Government hav- coast of South America Southwardly, ing forbidden the use of its ports to pri- and on the 5th of September took refuge vateers of any flag. The Baron con- for ten days in the port of San Juan de sidered the Sumter a ship of war, and Maranham, in Brazil. The Confederate holding the Confederate States as bel- steamer, in her wanderings, seemed to ligerents, maintained the vessel was en- have a predilection for visiting a variety titled to the right of hospitality ; more-of nations — a circumstance to be acover, she appeared as a vessel in dis- counted for on the principle that a rogue tress. To these positions, especially, is under the necessity of frequently the former, Mr. Seward, lustily object- changing his locality. The Gulf was ed. “The United States," he wrote, now quite too well watched for her “ unreservedly claim to determine for operations. Various ships of the United themselves absolutely the character of States navy—the Niagara, Key Stone the Sumter, she being a vessel fitted out, State, Powhatan, Iroquois--and others owned; armed, sailed and directed by had been sent out on her track, but by American citizens, who owe allegiance want of concert and good management to the Unite) States, and who neither on their part, or by a special good luck have nor car, in their piratical purposes of the craft of which they were in purand pursuits, have any political author- suit, though always on the eve of being

* Earl Russell to Mr. Adams, October 4, 1861. Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams, October 29, 1861.

* Mr. Seward to Mr. Pike, October 17, 1861.
+ Mr. Seward to Mr. Pike, November 23, 1861

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