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Title: An Englishman's View of the Battle between the Alabama and the Kearsarge - An Account of the Naval Engagement in the British Channel, - on Sunday June 19th, 1864
Author: Edge, Frederick Milnes
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Englishman's View of the Battle between the Alabama and the Kearsarge - An Account of the Naval Engagement in the British Channel, - on Sunday June 19th, 1864" ***






  No. 770 BROADWAY.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, BY ANSON D. F.
RANDOLPH, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States
for the Southern District of New York.

  Printer and Stereotyper,

  This Record

  The Sanitary Commission of the United States,


  LONDON, _July 14, 1864_.

The writer of this pamphlet is an English gentleman of intelligence now
residing in London, who has spent some time in this country, and is known
and esteemed by many of our best citizens. He visited Cherbourg for the
express purpose of making the inquiry and investigation, the results of
which are embodied in the following pages, and generously devotes the
pecuniary results of his copyright to the funds of the SANITARY

The Alabama and the Kearsarge.

The importance of the engagement between the United States Sloop-of-war,
Kearsarge, and the Confederate Privateer, Alabama, cannot be estimated by
the size of the two vessels. The conflict off Cherbourg on Sunday, the
19th of June, was the first decisive engagement between shipping propelled
by steam, and the first test of the merits of modern naval artillery. It
was, moreover, a contest for superiority between the ordnance of Europe
and America, whilst the result furnishes us with _data_ wherefrom to
estimate the relative advantages of rifled and smooth-bore cannon at short

Perhaps no greater or more numerous misrepresentations were ever made in
regard to an engagement than in reference to the one in question. The
first news of the conflict came to us enveloped in a mass of statements,
the greater part of which, not to use an unparliamentary expression, was
diametrically opposed to the truth; and although several weeks have now
elapsed since the Alabama followed her many defenceless victims to their
watery grave, these misrepresentations obtain as much credence as ever.
The victory of the Kearsarge was accounted for, and the defeat of the
Alabama excused or palliated upon the following principal reasons:--

    1. The superior size and speed of the Kearsarge.

    2. The superiority of her armament.

    3. The chain-plating at her sides.

    4. The greater number of her crew.

    5. The unpreparedness of the Alabama.

    6. The assumed necessity of Captain Semmes' accepting the challenge
    sent him (as represented) by the commander of the Kearsarge.

Besides these misstatements there have been others put forth, either in
ignorance of the real facts of the case, or with a purposed intention of
diminishing the merit of the victory by casting odium upon the Federals on
the score of inhumanity. In the former category must be placed the remarks
of the _Times_ (June 21st); but it is just to state that the observations
in question were made on receipt of the first news, and from information
furnished probably by parties unconnected with the paper, and desirous of
palliating the Alabama's defeat by any means in their power. We are
informed in the article above referred to that the guns of the latter
vessel "had been pointed for 2,000 yards, and the second shot went right
through the Kearsarge," whereas no shot whatever went through as stated.
Again, "the Kearsarge fired about 100 (shot) chiefly 11-in. shell," the
fact being that not one-third of her projectiles were of that calibre.
Further on we find--"The men (of the Alabama) were all true to the last;
they only ceased firing when the water came to the muzzles of their guns."
Such a declaration as this is laughable in the extreme; the Alabama's
guns were all on the spar-deck, like those of the Kearsarge; and, to
achieve what the _Times_ represents, her men must have fought on until the
hull of their vessel was two feet under water. The truth is--if the
evidence of the prisoners saved by the Kearsarge may be taken--Captain
Semmes hauled down his flag immediately after being informed by his chief
engineer that the water was putting out the fires; and, within a few
minutes, the water gained so rapidly on the vessel that her bow rose
slowly in the air, and half her guns obtained a greater elevation than
they had ever known previously. It is unfortunate to find such cheap-novel
style of writing in a paper which at some future period may be referred to
as an authoritative chronicler of events now transpiring.

It would be too long a task to notice all the numerous misstatements of
private individuals, and of the English and French press in reference to
this action: the best mode is to give the facts as they occurred, leaving
the public to judge by internal evidence on which side the truth exists.

Within a few days of the fight, the writer of these pages crossed from
London to Cherbourg for the purpose of obtaining by personal examination
full and precise information in reference to the engagement. It would seem
as though misrepresentation, if not positive falsehood, were inseparable
from everything connected with the Alabama, for on reaching the French
naval station he was positively assured by the people on shore that
nobody was permitted to board the Kearsarge. Preferring, however, to
substantiate the truth of these allegations, from the officers of the
vessel themselves, he hired a boat and sailed out to the sloop, receiving
on his arrival an immediate and polite reception from Captain Winslow and
his gallant subordinates. During the six days he remained at Cherbourg, he
found the Kearsarge open to the inspection, above and below, of any and
everybody who chose to visit her; and he frequently heard surprise
expressed by English and French visitors alike that representations on
shore were so inconsonant with the truth of the case.

I found the Kearsarge lying under the guns of the French ship-of-the-line
"Napoleon," two cables' length from that vessel, and about a mile and a
half from the harbour; she had not moved from that anchorage since
entering the port of Cherbourg, and no repairs whatever had been effected
in her hull since the fight. I had thus full opportunity to examine the
extent of her damage, and she certainly did not look at all like a vessel
which had just been engaged in one of the hottest conflicts of modern


The Kearsarge, in size, is by no means the terrible craft represented by
those who, for some reason or other, seek to detract from the honour of
her victory; she appeared to me a mere yacht in comparison with the
shipping around her, and disappointed many of the visitors who came to
see her. The relative proportions of the two antagonists were as

                               ALABAMA.        KEARSARGE.
  Length over all               220 ft.         232    ft.
     "    of keel               210  "          198-1/2 "
  Beam                           32  "           33     "
  Depth                          17  "           16-1/2 "
  Horse power, 2 engines of 300 each            400 h. p.
  Tonnage                     1,040           1,031[1]

The Alabama was a barque-rigged screw propeller, and the heaviness of her
rig, and, above all, the greater size and height of her masts would give
her the appearance of a much larger vessel than her antagonist. The masts
of the latter are disproportionately low and small; she has never carried
more than top-sail yards, and depends for her speed upon her machinery
alone. It is to be questioned whether the Alabama, with all her reputation
for velocity, could, in her best trim, outsteam her rival. The log book of
the Kearsarge, which I was courteously permitted to examine, frequently
shows a speed of upwards of fourteen knots the hour, and her engineers
state that her machinery was never in better working order than at the
present time. I have not seen engines more compact in form, nor,
apparently, in finer condition; looking in every part as though they were
fresh from the workshop, instead of being, as they, are, half through the
third year of the cruise.

Ships-of-war, however, whatever may be their tonnage, are nothing more
than platforms for carrying artillery. The only mode by which to judge of
the strength of the two vessels is in comparing their armaments; and
herein we find the equality of the antagonist as fully exemplified as in
the respective proportions of their hulls and steam-power. The armaments
of the Alabama and Kearsarge were are as follows:


      One 7-inch Blakely rifle.
      One 8-inch smooth-bore (68-pounder).
      Six 32-pounders.


      Two 11-inch smooth-bore guns.
      One 30-pounder rifle.
      Four 32-pounders.

It will therefore be seen that the Alabama had the advantage of the
Kearsarge--at all events in the number of her guns; whilst the weight of
the latter's broadside was only some 20 per cent. greater than her own.
This disparity, however, was more than made up by the greater rapidity of
the Alabama's firing, and, above all, by the superiority of her
artillerymen. The _Times_ informs us that Capt. Semmes asserts, "he owes
his best men to the training they received on board the 'Excellent;'" and
trained gunners must naturally be superior to the volunteer gunners on
board the Kearsarge. Each vessel fought all her guns, with the exception
in either case of one 32-pounder, on the starboard side; but the struggle
was really decided by the two 11-inch Dahlgren smooth-bores of the
Kearsarge against the 7-inch Blakely rifle and the heavy 68-pounder pivot
of the Alabama. The Kearsarge certainly carried a small 30-pounder rifled
Dahlgren in pivot on her forecastle, and this gun was fired several times
before the rest were brought into play; but the gun in question was never
regarded as aught than a failure, and the Ordnance Department of the
United States' Navy has given up its manufacture.


Great stress has been laid upon the chain-plating of the Kearsarge, and it
is assumed by interested parties that, but for this armour, the contest
would have resulted differently. A pamphlet lately published in this city,
entitled "The Career of the Alabama,"[2] makes the following statements:

"The Federal Government had fitted out the Kearsarge, a new vessel of
great speed, _iron-coated_," &c. (p. 23).

"She," the Kearsarge, "appeared to be _temporarily_ plated with iron
chains." (p. 38.) (In the previous quotation, it would appear she had so
been plated by the Federal Government: both statements are absolutely
incorrect, as will shortly be seen.)

"It was frequently observed that shot and shell struck against the
Kearsarge's side, and harmlessly rebounded, bursting outside, and doing no
damage to the Federal crew."

"Another advantage accruing from this was that it sank her very low in the
water, so low in fact, that the heads of the men who were in the boats
were on the level of the Kearsarge's deck." (p. 39.)

"As before observed, the sides of the Kearsarge _were trailed all over
with chain cables_." (p. 41).

The author of the pamphlet in question has judiciously refrained from
giving his name. A greater number of more unblushing misrepresentations
never were contained in an equal space.

In his official report to the Confederate Envoy, Mr. Mason, Captain Semmes
makes the following statements:

"At the end of the engagement, it was discovered by those of our officers
who went alongside the enemy's ship with the wounded, that her midship
section on both sides was thoroughly iron-coated; _this having been done
with chain constructed for the purpose_, (_!_) placed perpendicularly from
the rail to the water's edge, the whole covered over by a thin outer
planking, which gave no indication of the armour beneath. This planking
had been ripped off in every direction (!) by our shot and shell, the
chain broken and indented in many places, and forced partly into the
ship's side. She was most effectually guarded, however, in this section
from penetration."

"The enemy was heavier than myself, both in ship, battery, and crew, (!)
_but I did not know until the action was over that she was also

"Those of our officers who went alongside the enemy's ship with our
wounded." As soon as Captain Semmes reached the Deerhound, the yacht
steamed off at full speed towards Southampton, and Semmes wrote his report
of the fight either in England, or on board the English vessel. Probably
the former, for he dates his communication to Mr. Mason--"Southampton,
June 21, 1864." How did he obtain intelligence from those of his officers
"who went alongside the enemy's ship," and who would naturally be detained
as prisoners of war? It was impossible for anybody to reach Southampton in
the time specified; nevertheless he did obtain such information. One of
his officers--George T. Fullam, an Englishman unfortunately--came to the
Kearsarge in a boat at the close of the action, representing the Alabama
to be sinking, and that if the Kearsarge did not hasten to get out boats
to save life, the crew must go down with her. Not a moment was to be lost,
and he offered to go back to his own vessel to bring off prisoners,
pledging his honour to return when the object was accomplished. After
picking up several men struggling in the water, he steered directly for
the Deerhound, and on reaching her actually cast his boat adrift. It was
subsequently picked up by the Kearsarge. Fullam's name appears amongst the
list of "saved" by the Deerhound; and he, with others of the Alabama's
officers who had received a similar permission from their captors, and had
similarly broken their troth, of course gave the above information to
their veracious Captain.

The chain-plating of the Kearsarge was decided upon in this wise. The
vessel lay off Fayal towards the latter part of April, 1863, on the look
out for a notorious blockade-runner, named the "Juno." The Kearsarge being
short of coal, and, fearing some attempts at opposition on the part of her
prey, the first officer of the sloop, Lieutenant-commander James S.
Thornton, suggested to Captain Winslow the advisability of hanging her two
sheet-anchor cables over her sides, so as to protect her midship section.
Mr. Thornton had served on board the flag-ship of Admiral Farragut, the
"Hartford" when she and the rest of the Federal fleet ran the forts of the
Mississippi to reach New Orleans; and he made the suggestion at Fayal
through having seen the advantage gained by it on that occasion. I now
copy the following extract from the log-book of the Kearsarge:

    "HORTA BAY, FAYAL (_May 1st, 1863._)

    "_From 8 to Merid._ Wind E.N.E. (F 2). Weather b. c. Strapped, loaded,
    and fused (5 sec. fuse) 13 XI-inch shell. Commenced armour plating
    ship, using sheet chain. Weighed kedge anchor.

    "(Signed) E. M. STODDARD, _Acting Master_."

This operation of chain-armouring took three days, and was effected
without assistance from the shore and at an expense of material of
seventy-five dollars (£15). In order to make the addition less unsightly,
the chains were boxed over with 3/4-inch deal boards, forming a case, or
box, which stood out at right angles from the vessel's sides. This box
would naturally excite curiosity in every port where the Kearsarge
touched, and no mystery was made as to what the boarding covered. Captain
Semmes was perfectly cognizant of the entire affair, notwithstanding his
shameless assertion of ignorance; for he spoke about it to his officers
and crew several days prior to the 19th of June, declaring that the chains
were only attached together with rope-yarns, and would drop into the water
when struck with the first shot. I was so informed by his own wounded men
lying in the naval hospital at Cherbourg. Whatever might be the value for
defence of this chain-plating, it was only struck once during the
engagement, so far as I could discover by a long and close inspection.
Some of the officers of the Kearsarge asserted to me that it was struck
twice, whilst others deny that declaration: in one spot, however, a
32-pounder shot broke in the deal covering and smashed a single link,
two-thirds of which fell into the water. The remainder is in my
possession, and proves to be of the ordinary 5-1/4-inch chain. Had the
cable been struck by the rifled 120-pounder instead of by a 32, the result
might have been different; but in any case the damage would have amounted
to nothing serious, for the vessel's side was hit five feet above the
water-line and nowhere in the vicinity of the boilers or machinery.
Captain Semmes evidently regarded this protection of the chains as little
worth, for he might have adopted the same plan before engaging the
Kearsarge; but he confined himself to taking on board 150 tons of coal _as
a protection to his boilers_, which, in addition to the 200 tons already
in his bunkers, would bring him pretty low in the water. The Kearsarge, on
the contrary, was deficient in her coal, and she took what was necessary
on board during my stay at Cherbourg.

The quantity of chain used on each side of the vessel in this
much-talked-of armouring is only 120 fathoms, and it covers a space
amidships of 49 ft. 6 in. in length, by 6 ft. 2 in. in depth.[3] The
chain, which is single, not double, was and is stopped to eye-bolts with
rope-yarn and by iron dogs.[4] Is it reasonable to suppose that this
plating of 1-7/10-inch iron (the thickness of the links of the chain)
could offer any serious resistance to the heavy 68-pounder and the 7 in.
Blakely rifle of the Alabama--at the comparatively close range of 700
yards? What then becomes of the mistaken remark of the _Times_ that the
Kearsarge was "provided, as it turned out, with some special contrivances
for protection," or Semmes' declaration that she was "iron-clad?" "The
Career of the Alabama," in referring to this chain-plating, says--"Another
advantage accruing from this was that it sank her very low in the water,
so low in fact, that the heads of the men who were in the boats were on
the level of the Kearsarge's deck." It is simply ridiculous to suppose
that the weight of 240 fathoms of chain could have any such effect upon a
vessel of one thousand tons burden; whilst, in addition, the cable itself
was part of the ordinary equipment of the ship. Further, the supply of
coal on board the Kearsarge at the time of action was only 120 tons, while
the Alabama had 350 tons on board.

The objection that the Alabama was short-handed does not appear to be
borne out by the facts of the case; while, on the other hand, a greater
number of men than were necessary to work the guns and ship would be more
of a detriment than a benefit to the Kearsarge. The latter vessel had 22
officers on board, and 140 men: the Alabama is represented to have had
only 120 in her crew, (Mr. Mason's statement,) but if her officers be
included in this number, the assertion is obviously incorrect, for the
Kearsarge saved 67,[5] the Deerhound 41, and the French pilot-boats 12,
and this, without mentioning the 13 accounted for as killed and
wounded,[6] and others who went down with the ship. When the Alabama
arrived at Cherbourg, her officers and crew numbered 149. This information
was given by captains of American vessels who were held as prisoners on
board the privateer after the destruction of their ships; and their
information is indorsed by the captured officers of the Alabama now on
board the Kearsarge. It is known also that many persons tried to get on
board the Alabama while she lay in Cherbourg; but this the police
prevented as far as lay in their power. If Captain Semmes' representation
were correct in regard to his being short-handed, he certainly ought not
to be trusted with the command of a vessel again, however much he may be
esteemed by some parties for his Quixotism in challenging an
antagonist--to use his own words--"heavier than myself both in ship,
battery, and crew."

The asserted unpreparedness of the Alabama is about as truthful as the
other representations, if we may take Captain Semmes' report, and certain
facts, in rebutting evidence. The Captain writes to Mr. Mason, "I cannot
deny myself the pleasure of saying that Mr. Kell, my First Lieutenant,
deserves great credit for the fine condition the ship was in when she went
into action;" but if Captain Semmes were right in the alleged want of
preparation, he himself is alone to blame. He had ample time for
protecting his vessel and crew in all possible manners; he, not the
Kearsarge was the aggressor; and but for his forcing the fight, the
Alabama might still be riding inside Cherbourg breakwater. Notwithstanding
the horrible cause for which he is struggling, and the atrocious
depredations he has committed upon helpless merchantmen, we can still
admire the daring he evinced in sallying forth from a secure haven and
gallantly attacking his opponent; but when he professes ignorance of the
character of his antagonist, and unworthily attempts to disparage the
victory of his foe, we forget all our first sympathies, and condemn the
moral nature of the man, as he has forced us to do his judgment.

Nor must it be forgotten that the Kearsarge has had fewer opportunities
for repairs than the Alabama, and that she has been cruising around in all
seas _for a much longer period than her antagonist_.[7] The Alabama, on
the contrary, had lain for many days in Cherbourg, and she only steamed
forth when her Captain supposed her to be in, at all events, as good a
condition as the enemy.


Finally, the challenge to fight was given by the Alabama to the Kearsarge,
not by the Kearsarge to the Alabama. "The Career of the Alabama," above
referred to makes the following romantic statement:

"When he (Semmes) was challenged by the commander of the Kearsarge,
everybody in Cherbourg, it appears, said it would be disgraceful if he
refused the challenge, and this, coupled with his belief that the
Kearsarge was not so strong as she really proved to be, made him agree to
fight." (p. 41.)

On the Tuesday after the battle, and before leaving London for Cherbourg,
I was shown a telegram by a member of the House of Commons, forwarded to
him that morning. The telegram was addressed to one of the gentleman's
constituents by his son, a sailor on board the Alabama, and was dated "C.
S. S. Alabama, Cherbourg, June 14th," the sender stating that they were
about to engage the Kearsarge on the morrow, or next day. I have not a
copy of this telegram, but "The Career of the Alabama" gives a letter to
the like effect from the surgeon of the privateer, addressed to a
gentleman of this city. The letter reads as follows:

    "CHERBOURG, _June 14, 1864_.

    DEAR TRAVERS--Here we are. I send this by a gentleman coming to
    London. An enemy is outside. _If she only stays long enough, we go out
    and fight her._ If I live, expect to see me in London shortly. If I
    die, give my best love to all who know me. If Monsieur A. de Caillet
    should call on you, please show him every attention.

    "I remain, dear Travers, ever yours,
    "D. H. LLEWELLYN."

There were two brave gentlemen on board the Alabama--poor Llewellyn, who
nobly refused to save his own life, by leaving his wounded, and a young
Lieutenant, Mr. Joseph Wilson, who honourably delivered up his sword on
the deck of the Kearsarge, when the other officers threw theirs into the

The most unanswerable proof of Captain Semmes having challenged the
commander of the Kearsarge is to be found in the following letter
addressed by him to the Confederate consul, or agent, at Cherbourg. After
the publication of this document, it is to be hoped we shall hear no more
of Captain Winslow's having committed such a breach of discipline and
etiquette as that of challenging a rebel against his Government.


    "C. S. S. ALABAMA,
    "CHERBOURG, _June 14, 1864_.

    "To Ad. BONFILS, _Cherbourg_:

    "SIR--I hear that you were informed by the U. S. Consul, that the
    Kearsarge was to come to this port solely for the prisoners landed by
    me,[8] and that she was to depart in twenty-four hours. I desire you
    to say to the U. S. Consul, that my intention is to fight the
    Kearsarge as soon as I can make the necessary arrangements. I hope
    these will not detain me more than until tomorrow evening, or after
    the morrow morning at farthest. I beg she will not depart before I am
    ready to go out.

    "I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    "R. SEMMES, _Captain_."

Numerous facts serve to prove that Captain Semmes had made every
preparation to engage the Kearsarge, and that wide-spread publicity had
been given to his intention. As soon as the arrival of the Federal vessel
was known at Paris, an American gentleman of high position came down to
Cherbourg, with instructions for Captain Winslow; but so desirous were the
French authorities to preserve a really honest neutrality, that permission
was only granted to him to sail to her after his promise to return to
shore immediately on the delivery of his message. Once back in Cherbourg,
and about to return to Paris, he was advised to remain over night, _as the
Alabama intended to fight the Kearsarge next day_ (Sunday). On Sunday
morning, an excursion train arrived from the Capital, and the visitors
were received at the terminus of the railway by the boatmen of the port,
who offered them boats for the purpose of seeing _a genuine naval battle
which was to take place during the day_. Turning such a memorable
occurrence to practical uses, Monsieur Rondin, a celebrated photographic
artist on the _Place d'Armes_ at Cherbourg, prepared the necessary
chemicals, plates, and _camera_, and placed himself on the summit of the
old church tower which the whilome denizens of Cherbourg had very properly
built in happy juxtaposition with his establishment. I was only able to
see the negative, but that was quite sufficient to show that the artist
had obtained a very fine view indeed of the exciting contest. Five days,
however, had elapsed since Captain Semmes sent his challenge to Captain
Winslow through the Confederate agent, Monsieur Bonfils; surely time
sufficient for him to make all the preparations which he considered
necessary. Meanwhile the Kearsarge was cruising to and fro at sea, outside
the breakwater.

The Kearsarge reached Cherbourg on the 14th, and her Captain only heard of
Captain Semmes' intention to fight him on the following day. Five days,
however, elapsed before the Alabama put in an appearance, and her exit
from the harbour was heralded by the English yacht Deerhound. The officer
on watch aboard the Kearsarge made out a three-masted vessel steaming from
the harbour, the movements of which were somewhat mysterious; after
remaining a short time only, this steamer, which subsequently proved to be
the Deerhound, went back into port; only returning to sea a few minutes in
advance of the Alabama, and the French iron-clad La Couronne. Mr.
Lancaster, her owner, sends a copy of his log to the _Times_, the first
two entries being as follows:

"Sunday, June 19, 9 A. M.--Got up steam and proceeded out of Cherbourg

"10.30.--Observed the 'Alabama' steaming out of the harbour towards the
Federal steamer 'Kearsarge.'"[9]

Mr. Lancaster does not inform us why an English gentleman should choose a
Sunday morning, of all days in the week, to cruise about at an early hour
with ladies on board, nor does he supply the public with information as to
the movements of the Deerhound during the hour and a half which elapsed
between his exit from the harbour and the appearance of the Alabama. The
preceding paragraph, however, supplies the omission.


At length the Alabama made her appearance in company with the Couronne,
the latter vessel conveying her outside the limit of French waters. Here
let me pay a tribute to the careful neutrality of the French authorities.
No sooner was the limit of jurisdiction reached, than the Couronne put
down her helm, and without any delay, steamed back into port, not even
lingering outside the breakwater to witness the fight. Curiosity, if not
worse, anchored the English vessel in handy vicinity to the combatants.
Her presence proved to be of much utility, for she picked up no less than
fourteen of the Alabama's officers, and among them the redoubtable Semmes

So soon as the Alabama was made out, the Kearsarge immediately headed
seaward and steamed off the coast, the object being to get a sufficient
distance from the land so as to obviate any possible infringement of
French jurisdiction; and, secondly, that in case of the battle going
against the Alabama, the latter could not retreat into port. When this was
accomplished, the Kearsarge was turned shortly round and steered
immediately for the Alabama, Captain Winslow desiring to get within close
range, as his guns were shotted with five-seconds shell. The interval
between the two vessels being reduced to a mile, or thereabouts, the
Alabama sheered and discharged a broadside, nearly a raking fire, at the
Kearsarge. More speed was given to the latter to shorten the distance, and
a slight sheer to prevent raking. The Alabama fired a second broadside and
part of a third while her antagonist was closing; and at the expiration of
ten or twelve minutes from the Alabama's opening shot, the Kearsarge
discharged her first broadside. The action henceforward continued in a
circle, the distance between the two vessels being about seven hundred
yards; this, at all events, is the opinion of the Federal commander and
his officers, for their guns were sighted at that range, and their shell
burst in and over the privateer. The speed of the two vessels during the
engagement did not exceed eight knots the hour.

At the expiration of one hour and two minutes from the first gun, the
Alabama hauled down her colours and fired a lee gun (according to the
statements of her officers), in token of surrender. Captain Winslow could
not, however, believe that the enemy had struck, as his own vessel had
received so little damage, and he could not regard his antagonist as much
more injured than himself; and it was only when a boat came off from the
Alabama that her true condition was known. The 11-inch shell from the
Kearsarge, thrown with fifteen pounds of powder at seven hundred yards
range, had gone clean through the starboard side of the privateer,
bursting in the port side and tearing great gaps in her timber and
planking. This was plainly obvious when the Alabama settled by the stern
and raised the forepart of her hull high out of water.

The Kearsarge was struck twenty-seven times during the conflict, and fired
in all one hundred and seventy three (173) shots. These were as follows:


  Two 11-inch guns      55 shots.
  Rifle in forecastle   48  "
  Broadside 32-pdrs     60  "
  12-pdr. boat howitzer 10  "
  Total,               173 shots.

The last-named gun performed no part whatever in sinking the Alabama, and
was only used in the action to create laughter among the sailors. Two old
quarter-masters, the two Dromios of the Kearsarge, were put in charge of
this gun, with instructions to fire when they received the order. But the
two old salts, little relishing the idea of having nothing to do while
their messmates were so actively engaged, commenced peppering away with
their pea-shooter of a piece, alternating their discharges with
vituperation of each other. This low-comedy by-play amused the ship's
company, and the officers good-humoredly allowed the farce to continue
until the single box of ammunition was exhausted.


The Kearsarge was struck as follows:

    One shot through starboard quarter, taking a slanting direction aft,
    and lodging in the rudder post. This shot was from the Blakely rifle.

    One shot, carrying away starboard life-buoy.

    Three 32-pounder shots through port bulwarks, forward of mizzen-mast.

    A shell, exploding after end of pivot port.

    A shell, exploding after end of chain-plating.

    A 68-lb. shell, passing through starboard bulwarks below main rigging,
    wounding three men--the only casualties amongst the crew during the

    A Blakely-rifle shell, passing through the engine-room sky-light, and
    dropping harmlessly in the water beyond the vessel.

    Two shots below plank-sheer, abreast of boiler hatch.

    One forward pivot port plank sheer.

    One forward foremast-rigging.

    A shot striking Launch's toping-lift.

    A rifle-shell, passing through funnel, bursting without damage inside.

    One, starboard forward main-shroud.

    One, starboard after-shroud main-topmast rigging.

    One, main topsail tye.

    One, main topsail outhaul.

    One, main topsail runner.

    Two, through port-quarter boat.

    One, through spanker (furled).

    One, starboard forward shroud, mizzen rigging.

    One, starboard mizzen-topmast backstay.

    One, through mizzen peak-signal halyards, which cut the stops when the
    battle was nearly over, and for the first time let loose the flag to
    the breeze.

This list of damages received by the Kearsarge proves the exceedingly bad
fire of the Alabama, notwithstanding the numbers of men on board the
latter belonging to our "Naval Reserve," and the trained hands from the
gunnery ship "Excellent." I was informed by some of the paroled prisoners
on shore at Cherbourg that Captain Semmes fired rapidly at the
commencement of the action "in order to frighten the Yankees," nearly all
the officers and crew being, as he was well aware, merely volunteers from
the merchant service.[10] At the expiration of twenty minutes after the
Kearsarge discharged the first broadside, continuing the battle in a
leisurely, cool manner, Semmes remarked: "Confound them; they've been
fighting twenty minutes, and they're as cool as posts." The probabilities
are that the crew of the Federal vessel had learnt not to regard as
dangerous the rapid and hap-hazard practice of the Alabama.

From the time of her first reaching Cherbourg until she finally quitted
the port, the Kearsarge never received the slightest assistance from
shore, with the exception of that rendered by a boiler maker in patching
up her funnel. Every other repair was completed by her own hands, and she
might have crossed the Atlantic immediately after the action without
difficulty. So much for Mr. Lancaster's statement that "the Kearsarge was
apparently much disabled."


The first accounts received of the action led us to suppose that Captain
Semmes' intention was to lay his vessel alongside the enemy, and to carry
her by boarding. Whether this information came from the Captain himself or
was made out of "whole cloth" by some of his admirers, the idea of
boarding a vessel under steam--unless her engines, or screw, or rudder be
disabled--is manifestly ridiculous. The days of boarding are gone by,
except under the contingencies above stated; and any such attempt on the
part of the Alabama would have been attended with disastrous results to
herself and crew. To have boarded the Kearsarge, Semmes must have
possessed greater speed to enable him to run alongside her; and the moment
the pursuer came near her victim, the latter would shut off steam, drop
astern in a second of time, sheer off, discharge her whole broadside of
grape and canister, and rake her antagonist from stern to stem. Our
pro-southern sympathizers really ought not to make their _protegé_ appear
ridiculous by ascribing to him such an egregious intention.


It has frequently been asserted that the major portion of the Northern
armies is composed of foreigners, and the same statement is made in
reference to the crews of the American Navy. The report got abroad in
Cherbourg that the victory of the Kearsarge was due to her having taken on
board a number of French gunners at Brest; and an admiral of the French
Navy asked me in perfectly good faith whether it were not the fact. It
will not, therefore, be out of place to give the names and nationalities
of the officers and crew on board the Kearsarge during her action with the


      NAMES.                RANK.                   NATIVE OF
  John A. Winslow       Captain                  North Carolina[11]
  James S. Thornton     Lieut. Commander         New Hampshire
  John M. Browne        Surgeon                       "
  J. Adams Smith        Paymaster                Maine
  Wm. H. Cushman        Chief Engineer           Pennsylvania
  James R. Wheeler      Acting Master            Massachusetts
  Eben. M. Stoddard       "      "               Connecticut
  David H. Sumner         "      "               Maine
  Wm. H. Badlam         2d Asst. Engr.           Massachusetts
  Fred. L. Miller       3d   "     "                   "
  Sidney L. Smith        "   "     "                   "
  Henry McConnell        "   "     "             Pennsylvania
  Edward E. Preble      Midshipman               Maine
  Daniel B. Sargent     Paymaster's Clerk          "
  S. E. Hartwell        Captain's Clerk          Massachusetts
  Franklin A. Graham    Gunner                   Pennsylvania
  James C. Walton       Boatswain                      "
  Wm. H. Yeaton         Acting Master's Mate     United States
  Chas. H. Danforth        "      "      "       Massachusetts
  Ezra Bartlett            "      "      "       New Hampshire
  George A. Tittle      Surgeon's Steward        United States
  Carsten B. De Witt    Yeoman                   United States


      NAMES.                RATE.               NATIVE OF
  Jason N. Watrus       Master-at-arms        United States
  Charles Jones         Seaman                      "
  Daniel Charter        Landsman                    "
  Edward Williams       Officers' Steward           "
  George Williams       Landsman                    "
  Charles Butts         Quartermaster               "
  Charles Redding       Landsman                    "
  James Wilson          Coxswain                    "
  William Gowen (died)  Ordinary seaman             "
  James Saunders        Quartermaster               "
  John W. Dempsey       Quarter-gunner              "
  William D. Chapel     Landsman                    "
  Thomas Perry          Boatswain's-mate            "
  John Barrow           Ordinary seaman             "
  William Bond          Boatswain's-mate            "
  James Haley           Capt. of Fo'castle          "
  Robert Strahn         Capt. Top                   "
  Jas. O. Stone         1st class boy               "
  Jacob Barth           Landsman                    "
  Jno. H. McCarthey        "                        "
  Jas. F. Hayes            "                        "
  John Hayes            Coxswain                    "
  James Devine          Landsman                    "
  George H. Russell     Armourer                    "
  Patrick McKeever      Landsman                    "
  Nathan Ives              "                        "
  Dennis McCarty           "                        "
  John Boyle            Ordinary seaman             "
  John C. Woodberry        "                        "
  George E. Read        Seaman                      "
  James Morey           Ordinary seaman             "
  Benedict Drury        Seaman                      "
  William Giles            "                        "
  Timothy Hurley        Ship's Cook                 "
  Michael Conroy        Ordinary seaman             "
  Levi W. Nye           Seaman                      "
  James H. Lee             "                        "
  John E. Brady         Ordinary seaman             "
  Andrew J. Rowley      Quarter-gunner              "
  James Bradley         Seaman                      "
  William Ellis         Capt. Hold                  "
  Henry Cook              "   After-guard           "
  Charles A. Read       Seaman                      "
  Wm. S. Morgan            "                        "
  Joshua E. Carey       Sailmaker's mate            "
  James Magee           Ordinary seaman             "
  Benjamin S. Davis     Officers' Cook              "
  John F. Bickford      Coxswain                    "
  William Gurney        Seaman                      "
  William Smith         Quartermaster               "
  Lawrence T. Crowley   Ordinary seaman             "
  Hugh McPherson        Gunner's mate               "
  Taran Phillips        Ordinary seaman             "
  Joachim Pease         Seaman                      "
  Benj. H. Blaisdell    1st Class Fireman           "
  Joel B. Blaisdell     1st Class Fireman           "
  Charles Fisher        Officers' Cook              "
  James Henson          Landsman                    "
  Wm. M. Smith             "                        "
  William Fisher           "                        "
  George Bailey            "                        "
  Martin Hoyt              "                        "
  Mark G. Ham           Carpenter's-mate            "
  William H. Bastine    Landsman                    "
  Leyman P. Spinney     Coal-Heaver                 "
  George E. Smart       2d Class Fireman            "
  Charle A. Poole       Coal-Heaver                 "
  Timothy Lynch              "                      "
  Will. H. Donnally     1st Class Fireman           "
  Sylvanus P. Brackett  Coal-Heaver                 "
  John W. Sanborn            "                      "
  Adoniram Littlefield       "                      "
  John W. Young              "                      "
  Will. Wainwright           "                      "
  Jno. E. Orchon        2d Class Fireman            "
  Geo. W. Remick        1st  "      "               "
  Joel L. Sanborn        "   "      "               "
  Jere Young             "   "      "               "
  William Smith          "   "      "               "
  Stephen Smith         2d   "      "               "
  John F. Stackpole      "   "      "               "
  William Stanley        "   "      "               "
  Lyman H. Hartford      "   "      "               "
  True W. Priest        1st  "      "               "
  Joseph Dugan           "   "      "               "
  John F. Dugan         Coal-Heaver                 "
  Jas. W. Sheffield     2d Class Fireman            "
  Chas. T. Young        Orderly Sergeant            "
  Austin Quimley        Corporal of Marines         "
  Roscoe G. Dolley      Private   "    "            "
  Patrick Flood            "      "    "            "
  Henry Hobson          Corporal  "    "            "
  James Kerrigan        Private   "    "            "
  John McAleen          Private of Marines          "
  George A. Raymond       "     "    "              "
  James Tucker            "     "    "              "
  Isaac Thornton          "     "    "              "
  Wm. Y. Evans          Nurse                       "
  Wm. B. Poole          Quartermaster               "
  F. J. Veannoh         Capt. Afterguard            "
  Charles Hill          Landsman                    "
  Henry Jameson         1st Class Fireman           "
  John G. Batchelder    Private of Marines          "
  Jno. Dwyer            1st Class Fireman           "
  Thomas Salmon         2d    "      "              "
  Patrick O. Conner      "    "      "              "
  Geo. H. Harrison      Ordinary seaman             "
  Geo. Andrew              "       "                "
  Charles Moore         Seaman                      "
  Geo. A. Whipple       Ordinary seaman             "
  Edward Wallace        Seaman                      "
  Thomas Marsh          Coal-Heaver                 "
  Thomas Buckley        Ordinary seaman             "
  Edward Wilt           Capt. Top                   "
  George H. Kinne       Ordinary seaman             "
  Augustus Johnson      Seaman                      "
  Jeremiah Horrigan        "                        "
  Wm. O'Halloran           "                        "
  Wm. Turner               "                        "
  Joshua Collins        Ordinary seaman             "
  James McBeath            "      "                 "
  John Pope             Coal-Heaver                 "
  Charles Mattison      Ordinary seaman             "
  George Baker          Seaman                      "
  Timothy G. Cauty         "                        "
  John Shields             "                        "
  Thomas Alloway           "                        "
  Phillip Weeks            "                        "
  William Barnes        Landsman                    "
  Wm. Alsdorf              "                  Holland
  Clement Antoine       Coal-Heaver           Western Islands
  Jose Dabney           Landsman              Western Islands
  Benj. Button          Coal-Heaver           Malay      "
  Jean Briset               "                 France
  Vanburn Francois      Landsman              Holland
  Peter Ludy            Seaman                   "
  George English           "                  England
  Jonathan Brien        Landsman                 "
  Manuel J. Gallardo    2d Class Boy          Spain
  John M. Sonius        1st  "    "           Holland

It thus appears that out of one hundred and sixty-three (163) officers and
crew of the sloop-of-war Kearsarge, there are only eleven (11) persons
foreign born.

The following is the Surgeon's report of casualties amongst the crew of
the Kearsarge during the action:

    "U. S. S. S. KEARSARGE,
    "_Afternoon, June 19, 1864_.

    "Sir--I report the following casualties resulting from the engagement
    this morning with the steamer 'Alabama.'

    JOHN W. DEMPSEY, Quarter-gunner. Compound comminuted fracture of right
    arm, lower third, and fore-arm. Arm amputated.

    WILLIAM GOWEN, Ordinary seaman. Compound fracture of left thigh and
    leg. Seriously wounded.

    JAMES MCBEATH, Ordinary seaman. Compound fracture of left leg.
    Severely wounded.

    I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

    Surgeon U. S. Navy.

    "Captain JOHN A. WINSLOW,
    "Comd'g U. S. S. S. Kearsarge, Cherbourg."

All these men were wounded by the same shot, a 68-pounder, which passed
through the starboard bulwarks below main-rigging, narrowly escaping the
after 11-inch pivot-gun. The fuses employed by the Alabama were
villainously bad, several shells having lodged in the Kearsarge without
taking effect. Had the 7-inch rifle shot exploded which entered the vessel
at the starboard quarter, raising the deck by its concussion several
inches and lodging in the rudder-post, the action might have lasted some
time longer. It would not, however, have altered the result, for the
casualty occurred towards the close of the conflict. During my visit, I
witnessed the operation of cutting out a 32-pounder shell (time fuse) from
the rail close forward of the fore pivot 11-inch port; the officer in
charge of the piece informed me that the concussion actually raised the
gun and carriage, and, had it exploded, many of the crew would have been
injured by the fragments and splinters.

Among the incidents of the fight, some of our papers relate that a 11-inch
shell from the Kearsarge fell upon the deck of the Alabama, and was
immediately taken up and thrown overboard. Probably no fight ever occurred
in modern times in which somebody didn't pick up a live shell and throw it
out of harm's way; but we may be permitted to doubt in this case--5-second
fuses take effect somewhat rapidly; the shot weighs considerably more than
a hundred-weight, and is uncomfortably difficult to lay hold of. Worse
than all for the probabilities of the story, fifteen pounds of
powder--never more nor less--were used to every shot fired from the
11-inch pivots, the Kearsarge only opening fire from them when within
eight hundred yards of the Alabama. With 15 pounds of powder and fifteen
degrees of elevation, I have myself seen these 11-inch Dahlgrens throw
three and a half miles; and yet we are asked to credit that, with the same
charge at less than half a mile, one of the shells _fell_ upon the deck of
the privateer. There are eleven marines in the crew of the Kearsarge:
probably the story was made for them.


Captain Semmes makes the following statement in his official report:

"Although we were now but 400 yards from each other, the enemy fired upon
me five times after my colours had been struck. It is charitable to
suppose that a ship of war of a Christian nation could not have done this

A very nice appeal after the massacre of Fort Pillow, especially when
coming from a man who has spent the previous two years of his life in
destroying unresisting merchantmen.

The Captain of the Kearsarge was never aware of the Alabama having struck
until a boat put off from her to his own vessel. Prisoners subsequently
stated that she had fired a lee-gun, but the fact was not known on board
the Federal ship, nor that the colours were hauled down in token of
surrender. A single fact will prove the humanity with which Captain
Winslow conducted the fight. At the close of the action, his deck was
found to be literally covered with grape and canister, ready for close
quarters; but he had never used a single charge of all this during the
contest, although within capital range for employing it.


The wounded of the two vessels were transferred shortly after the action
to the Naval Hospital at Cherbourg. I paid a visit to that establishment
on the Sunday following the engagement, and found the sufferers lying in
comfortable beds alongside each other in a long and admirably ventilated
ward on the first floor. Poor Gowen, who died the following Tuesday, was
in great pain, and already had the seal of death upon his face. James
McBeath, a young fellow of apparently twenty years, with a compound
fracture of the leg, chatted with much animation; while Dempsey, the stump
of his right arm laid on the pillow, was comfortably smoking a cigar, and
laughing and talking with one of the Alabama crew, in the bed alongside
him. The wounded men of the sunken privateer were unmistakably English in
physiognomy, and I failed to discover any who were not countrymen of ours.
I conversed with all of them, stating at the outset that I was an
Englishman like themselves, and the information seemed to open their
hearts to me. They represented themselves as very comfortable at the
hospital, that every thing they asked for was given to them, and that
they were surprised at the kindness of the Kearsarge men who came to visit
the establishment, when they were assured by their own officers before the
action that foul treatment would only be shown them in the event of their
capture. Condoling with one poor fellow who had his leg carried away by a
shell, he remarked to me, "Ah, it serves me right! they won't catch me
fighting again without knowing what I'm fighting for." "That's me too,"
said another poor Englishman alongside of him.

The paroled prisoners (four officers) on shore at Cherbourg, evinced no
hostility whatever to their captors, but were always on the friendliest of
terms with them. All alike frequented the same hotel in the town
(curiously enough--"The Eagle,") played billiards at the same _café_, and
bought their pipes, cigars, and tobacco from the same pretty little
_brunette_ on the _Quai du Port_.

The following are the names of the officers and crew of the Alabama, saved
by the Kearsarge:

  Francis L. Galt, of Virginia, Assistant Surgeon.
  Joseph Wilson, Third Lieutenant.
  Miles J. Freeman, Engineer, _Englishman_.
  John W. Pundt, Third Assistant Engineer.
  Benjamin L. McCaskey, Boatswain.
  William Forrestall, Quartermaster, _Englishman_.
  Thomas Potter, Fireman,                  "
  Samuel Williams,  "                _Welshman_.
  Patrick Bradley,  "                _Englishman_.
  John Orrigin, Fireman,             _Irishman_.
  George Freemantle, Seaman,         _Englishman_.
  Edgar Tripp,         "                   "
  John Neil,           "                   "
  Thomas Winter, Fireman,                  "
  Martin King, Seaman.
  Joseph Pearson, "                        "
  James Hicks, Capt. Hold,                 "
  R. Parkinson, Wardroom Steward,          "
  John Emory, Seaman,                      "
  Thomas L. Parker, boy,                   "
  Peter Hughes, Capt. Top,                 "

(All the above belonged to the Alabama when she first sailed from the
Mersey, and John Neil, John Emory, and Peter Hughes belong to the "Royal
Naval Reserve.")

Seamen.--William Clark, David Leggett, Samuel Henry, John Russell, John
Smith, Henry McCoy, Edward Bussell, James Ochure, John Casen, Henry
Higgin, Frank Hammond, Michael Shields, David Thurston, George Peasey,
Henry Yates.

Ordinary Seamen.--Henry Godsen, David Williams, Henry Hestlake, Thomas
Watson, John Johnson, Match Maddock, Richard Evans, William Miller, George
Cousey, Thomas Brandon.

Coxswains.--William McKenzie, James Broderick, William Wilson.

  Edward Rawes, Master-at-Arms.
  Henry Tucker, Officers' Cook.
  William Barnes, Quarter-gunner.
  Jacob Verbor, Seaman,         }
  Robert Wright, Capt. M. Top,  } _Wounded_.
  Wm. McGuire, Capt. F. Top,    }
  Wm. McGinley, Coxswain,       }
  John Benson, Coal-Heaver.
  James McGuire,     "
  Frank Currian, Fireman.
  Peter Laperty,    "
  John Riley,       "
  Nicholas Adams, Landsman.
  James Clemens, Yeoman.
  James Wilson, Boy.

These men, almost without exception, are subjects of Her Majesty the
Queen. There were also three others, who died in the boats, names not

The following are those reported to have been killed or drowned:

  David Herbert Llewellyn, Surgeon, _Welshman_.
  William Robinson, Carpenter.
  James King, Master-at-Arms, _Savannah Pilot_.
  Peter Duncan, Fireman, _Englishman_.
  Andrew Shillings, _Scotchman_.
  Charles Puist, Coal-passer, _German_.
  Frederick Johns, Purser's Steward, _Englishman_.
  Samuel Henry, Seaman,                    "
  John Roberts,   "                  _Welshman_.
  Peter Henry,    "                  _Irishman_.
  George Appleby, Yeoman,            _Englishman_.
  A. G. Bartelli, Seaman,            _Portuguese_.
  Henry Fisher,     "                _Englishman_.

The above all belonged to the original crew of the Alabama.

The Deerhound carried off, according to her own account, forty-one; the
names of the following are known:

  Raphael Semmes, Captain.
  John M. Kell, First Lieutenant.
  Arthur Sinclair, Jun., Second Lieutenant.
  R. K. Howell, Lieutenant of Marines.
      (This person is brother-in-law of Mr. Jefferson Davis.)
  W. H. Sinclair, Midshipman.
  J. S. Bullock, Acting Master.
  E. A. Maffit, Midshipman.
  E. M. Anderson,    "
  M. O'Brien, Third Assistant Surgeon.
  George T. Fullam, Master's Mate, _Englishman_.
  James Evans,           "
  Max Meulnier,          "
  J. Schrader,           "
  W. B. Smith, Captain's Clerk.
  J. O. Cuddy, Gunner.
  J. G. Dent, Quartermaster.
  James McFadgen, Fireman, _Englishman_.
  Orran Duffy, Fireman, _Irishman_.
  W. Crawford,                _Englishman_.
  Brent Johnson, Second Boat Mate,  "
  William Nevins,                   "
  William Hearn, Seaman,            "

The last four belong to the "Royal Naval Reserve."


That an English yacht, one belonging to the Royal Yacht Squadron, and
flying the White Ensign, too, during the conflict, should have assisted
the Confederate prisoners to escape after they had formally surrendered
themselves, according to their own statement, by firing a lee-gun,
striking their colours, hoisting a white flag, and sending a boat to the
Kearsarge--some of which signals must have been witnessed from the deck of
the Deerhound, is most humiliating to the national honour. The movements
of the yacht early on Sunday morning were as before shown, most
suspicious; and had Captain Winslow followed the advice and reiterated
requests of his officers when she steamed off, the Deerhound might now
have been lying not far distant from the Alabama. Captain Winslow however,
could not believe that a gentleman who was asked by himself "to save life"
would use the opportunity to decamp with the officers and men who,
according to their own act, were prisoners-of-war. There is high
presumptive evidence that the Deerhound was at Cherbourg for the express
purpose of rendering every assistance possible to the corsair; and we may
be permitted to doubt whether Mr. Lancaster, the friend of Mr. Laird, and
a member of the Mersey Yacht Club, would have carried Captain Winslow and
his officers to Southampton if the result of the struggle had been
reversed, and the Alabama had sent the Kearsarge to the bottom.

The Deerhound reached Cherbourg on the 17th of June, and between that time
and the night of the 18th, boats were observed from the shore passing
frequently between her and the Alabama. It is reported that English
gunners come over from England purposely to assist the privateer in the
fight; this I heard before leaving London, and the assertion was repeated
to me again at Havre, Honfleur, Cherbourg, and Paris. If this be the fact,
how did the men reach Cherbourg? On the 14th of June, Captain Semmes sends
his challenge to the Kearsarge through Monsieur Bonfils, stating it to be
his intention to fight her "as soon as I can make the necessary
arrangements." Two full days elapse, during which he takes on board 150
tons additional of coal, and places for security in the Custom House the
following valuables:

  38 kilo. 700 gr. of Gold coin,
             6 gr. of Jewelery and set Diamonds,
             2 Gold Watches.

What then became of the pillage of a hundred merchantmen, the
chronometers, etc., which the _Times_ describes as the "_spolia opima_ of
a whole mercantile fleet?" Those could not be landed on French soil, and
were not: did they go to the bottom with the ship herself, or are they

Captain Semmes' preparations are apparently completed on the 16th, but
still he lingers behind the famous breakwater, much to the surprise of his
men. The Deerhound arrives at length, and the preparations are rapidly
completed. How unfortunate that Mr. Lancaster did not favour the _Times_
with a copy of his log-book from the 12th to the 19th of June inclusive!

The record of the Deerhound is suggestive on the morning of that memorable
Sunday. She steams out from behind the Cherbourg breakwater at an early
hour,--scouts hither and thither, apparently purposeless--runs back to her
anchorage--precedes the Alabama to sea--is the solitary and close
spectator of the fight whilst the Couronne has the delicacy to return to
port, and finally--having picked up Semmes, thirteen of his officers and a
few of his men--steams off at fullest speed to Southampton, leaving the
"_apparently much-disabled_" _Kearsarge_ (Mr. Lancaster's own words) to
save two-thirds of the Alabama's drowning crew struggling in the water.

An English gentleman's yacht playing tender to a corsair! No one will ever
believe that Deerhound to be thorough-bred.


Such are the facts relating to the memorable action off Cherbourg on the
19th of June, 1864. The Alabama went down riddled through and through with
shot; and, as she sank beneath the green waves of the Channel, not a
single cheer arose from the victors. The order was given, "Silence, boys,"
and in perfect silence this terror of American commerce plunged to her
last resting place.

There is but one key to the victory. The two vessels were, as nearly as
possible, equals in size, speed, armament and crew, and the contest was
decided by the superiority of the 11-inch Dahlgren guns of the Kearsarge,
over the Blakely rifle and the vaunted 68-pounder of the Alabama, in
conjunction with the greater coolness and surer aim of the former's crew.
The Kearsarge was not, as represented, specially armed and manned for
destroying her foe; but is in every respect similar to all the vessels of
her class (third-rate) in the United States Navy. Moreover, the large
majority of her officers are from the merchant service.

The French at Cherbourg were by no means dilatory in recognizing the value
of these Dahlgren guns. Officers of all grades, naval and military alike,
crowded the vessel during her stay at their port; and they were all eyes
for the massive pivots and for nothing else. Guns, carriages, even rammers
and sponges, were carefully measured; and, if the pieces can be made in
France, many months will not elapse before their muzzles will be grinning
through the port-holes of French ships-of-war.

We have no such gun in Europe as this 11-inch Dahlgren, but it is
considered behind the age in America. The 68-pounder is regarded by us as
a heavy piece; in the United States it is the minimum for large vessels;
whilst some ships, the "New Ironsides," "Niagara," "Vanderbilt," etc.,
carry the 11-inch _in broadside_. It is considered far too light, however,
for the sea-going ironclads, although throwing a solid shot of 160 pounds;
yet it has made a wonderful stir on both sides of the Channel. What,
then, will be thought of the 15-inch gun, throwing a shot of 480 pounds,
or of the 200-pound Parrot, with its range of five miles?

We are arming our ironclads with 9-inch smooth-bores and 100-pounder
rifles, whilst the Americans are constructing their armour-ships to resist
the impact of 11 and 15-inch shot. By next June, the United States will
have in commission the following ironclads:

  Dunderberg,    5,090 tons,   10 guns.
  Dictator,      3,033  "       2  "
  Kalamazoo,     3,200  "       4  "
  Passaconaway,  3,200  "       4  "
  Puritan,       3,265  "       4  "
  Quinsigamond,  3,200  "       4  "
  Roanoke,       3,435  "       6  "
  Shakamaxon,    3,200  "       4  "

These, too, without counting six others of "second class," all alike armed
with the tremendous 15-inch, and built to cross the Atlantic in any
season. But it is not in ironclads alone that America is proving her
energy; first, second and third-rates, wooden built, are issuing
constantly from trans-Atlantic yards, and the Navy of the United States
now numbers no less than six hundred vessels and upwards, seventy-three of
which are ironclads.

This is, indeed, an immense fleet for one nation, but we may, at all
events, rejoice that it will be used to defend--in the words of the wisest
and noblest of English statesmen--"the democratic principle, or, if that
term is offensive, popular sovereignty."




_July 13, 1864_.

"MY DEAR SIR--I have read the proof-sheet of your pamphlet, entitled 'The
Alabama and the Kearsarge. An Account of the Naval Engagement in the
British Channel on Sunday, June 19, 1864.' I can fully endorse the
pamphlet as giving a fair, unvarnished statement of all the facts both
prior and subsequent to the engagement.

"With my best wishes, I remain, with feelings of obligation, very truly





[1] The Kearsarge has a four-bladed screw, diameter 12-ft 9-in. with a
pitch of 20-ft.

[2] _The Career of the Alabama, "No. 290," from July 26, 1862, to June 19,
1864._ London: Dorrell and Son.

[3] Captain Winslow, in his first hurried report of the engagement, put
the space covered at 20 or 25 feet, believing this to be rather over than
under the mark. The above, however, is the exact measurement.

[4] There was nothing whatever between the chain and the ship's sides.

[5] Including three dead.

[6] See page 41.

[7] The Kearsarge started on her present cruise the 4th of February, 1862;
the Alabama left the Mersey at the end of July following.

[8] This information was incorrect. No such statement was ever made by the
Consul of the United States at Cherbourg.

  F. M. E.

[9] The following is the copy of the log of the Kearsarge on the day in

  "June 19, 1864.                           "From 8 to Merid.

"Moderate breeze from the Wd. weather b. c. At 10 o'clock, inspected crew
at quarters. At 10.20, discovered the Alabama steaming out from the port
of Cherbourg, accompanied by a French iron-clad steamer, and a
fore-and-aft rigged steamer showing the white English ensign and a yacht
flag. Beat to General Quarters, and cleared the ship for action. Steamed
ahead standing off shore. At 10.50, being distant from the land about two
leagues, altered our course and approached the Alabama. At 10.57, the
Alabama commenced the action with her starboard broadside at 1,000 yards
range. At 11, we returned her fire, and came fairly into action, which we
continued until Merid., when observing signs of distress in the enemy,
together with a cessation of her fire, our fire was withheld. At 12.10, a
boat with an officer from the Alabama came alongside and surrendered his
vessel, with the information that she was rapidly sinking, and a request
for assistance. Sent the Launch and 2d Cutter, the other boats being
disabled by the fire of the enemy. The English yacht before mentioned,
coming within hail, was requested by the Captain (W.) to render assistance
in saving the lives of the officers and crew of the surrendered vessel. At
2.24, the Alabama went down in forty fathoms of water, leaving most of the
crew struggling in the water. Seventy persons were rescued by the boats,
two pilot boats and the yacht also assisted. One pilot boat came alongside
us, but the other returned to the port. The yacht steamed rapidly away to
the Nd. without reporting the number of our prisoners she had picked up.

  "(Signed) JAMES S. WHEELER, Actg. Master."

[10] According to the statement of prisoners captured, the Alabama fired
no less than three hundred and seventy times (shot and shell); more than
twice the number of the Kearsarge.

[11] Captain Winslow has long been a citizen of the State of

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "An Englishman's View of the Battle between the Alabama and the Kearsarge - An Account of the Naval Engagement in the British Channel, - on Sunday June 19th, 1864" ***

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