Semmes' Letter to Low Letter from Captain Semmes, C. S. Navy, commanding C.S.S. Alabama, to Lieutenant Low, C. S. Navy, commanding C. S. bark Tuscaloosa, giving instructions regarding the cruise of that vessel.

At Sea, June 21, 1863.

Sir: With the C. S. bark Tuscaloosa, a tender to this ship, under your command, you will proceed on a cruise against the commerce of the United States, with which States the Confederate States are at war. As most of the ports of the Confederate States are blockaded by the enemy, and as the maritime powers of the world have prohibited both belligerents from taking prizes into their ports, it will not be in your power for the present to send your prizes in for adjudication. This state of things is much to be regretted, but it can not be permitted, of course, to interfere with your right of capture. You will therefore destroy all the enemy's ships which fall into your power, discriminating, however, between such as have enemy's goods and such as have bona fide neutral goods on board. In the latter cases you will put the ships under ransom bonds and permit them to depart with their neutral cargoes, unless, indeed, the latter be contraband of war, in which case you may destroy both ship and cargo.

You will pay every respect to a neutral flag wherever you may find it; and in heaving a ship to bearing this flag, for the purpose of verifying her national character, you will cause her as little delay or molestation as possible.

The harbor of St. Catherine's [Santa Catharina], on the coast of Brazil, will be your first port of rendezvous. you will make the best of your way to that port and wait a reasonable time for my arrival, say one week. Should I not arrive within that time, you will proceed to Saldanha Bay, to the northward of the Cape of Good Hope, and there await me.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Captain, C S. Navy

Acting Second Lieutenant, Commandant.

Source: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1894-1922.

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