report of semmes Report of Captain Semmes, C.S. Navy, Commanding C.S.S. Alabama, of cruise and captures made by that vessel from September 19 to December 22. 1863.

C.S.S. Alabama
Singapore,
December 22, 1963.

SIR: I wrote to the Department last on the 19th* of September from Simon's Town, Cape of Good Hope, by way of England, enclosing my letter to Fraser, Trenholm & Co., of Liverpool, to be forwarded. Having completed coaling and provisioning my ship on the 23rd of the same month, I sailed the next day for the East Indies. Having got an offing from the cape, I ran up my longitude in about the parallel of 39 , with the wind almost constantly from the northward and westward, and fresh, varied by a few calms and one or two gales. I passed the island of St. Paul on the 12th of October, and on the 22nd lost the west winds in the calm belt of the southern tropic, having made a run of 4,410 miles in twenty-four and three fourths days--a very satisfactory run for a steamer under sail alone. The rough tumbling that my ship got in this passage caused her to complain somewhat, and even to make a little more water than usual, and in one of the gales a quarter boat was swept from the davits. We was but three sail in this passage--a hermaphrodite brig and an English ship near the Cape of Good Hope, and midway between the cape and St. Paul an English steamer. The two latter I spoke and boarded. I arrived in the vicinity of the Strait of Sunda on the 26th of October, on which day I boarded an English ship a couple of days out of the strait. I learned by this ship that the enemy's steamer Wyoming, accompanied by three-masted schooner, was cruising in the strait.

[Amanda]
I remained on the outside of the strait several days, chasing and overhauling a good many vessels, but not falling in with any of the enemy until the 6th of November, when I captured and burned the bard Amanda, of Bangor, Me., from Manila for Queenstown, Ireland, for orders, and laden with a valuable cargo of hemp and sugar. On the 8th November I ran into the strait and anchored under Flat Point, where I remained twenty-four hours. I then got up steam and ran through the strait, seeing nothing of the enemy's steamer or the schooner reported to be in her company.

[Winged Racer]
Just at nightfall, and an hour or two after I had entered the Java Sea, I overhauled and captured the enemy's ship Winged Racer. This was a large and valuable clipper, also from Manila, and laden with hemp and sugar, and bound for New York.

I burned her, having previously anchored near North Islands for the purpose of taking from the prize such articles of provisions, etc., as I needed. I landed the prisoners of the Amanda and Winger Racer in the boats of the latter ship, at their own request, it being their intention to proceed to Batavia, the nearest civilized port.

[Contest]
Getting underway on the morning of the 11th, I ran up in the direction of the Carimata Passage, and on the same evening I captured the clipper ship Contest of New York, from Yokohama, in Japan, bound for New York. This ship gave me quite a chase, as she was very fast and there was a fine breeze blowing. It required the aid of both steam and sail to overhaul her. She had a valuable cargo of rap and teas, etc. I burned her. I had a tedious passage of several days through the Carimata Strait, under sail, my coal running short, and while anchored off the island of Souroutou [Serutu], on the 19th of November, I boarded an English bark from Singapore for London, which consented to take the prisoners of the Contest. I now make my way a short distance up the northwest coast of Borneo, being obliged to steam a part of the way, and after some days of baffling light airs, calms, and currents, I crossed to the island of Condore, on the coast of Cochin China, in possession of the French, and as my ship required overhauling and repairing, and my crew needed the refreshment and quiet of port, I remained here twelve days. Sailing hence on the 15th, I reached Singapore on the afternoon of the 21st, having cruised a couple of days without falling in with any vessels of the enemy, and having touched at the island of Aor. The enemy's East India and China is nearly broken up. Their ships find impossible to get freights, there being in this port some nineteen sail, almost all of which are laid up for want of employment. I don not think it desirable, therefore, to remain longer in these seas, as the chances of capture would be very few, and it being in fact of but little importance in what particular track of commerce we pick up the enemy's ships, the main point being to pick up as many as possible. Perhaps the more widely apart our blows are struck, provided they are struck rapidly, the greater will be the consternation and consequent damage of the enemy.

Enclosed please find a list of the officers at present on board of the Alabama.

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

R. SEMMES,

Captain.

Hon. S. R. MALLORY
Secretary of the Navy, Richmond, Va.


Source:

Rare Book Collection, William Stanley Hoole Special Collections Libary, The University of Alabama


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