SIR: It becomes my painful official duty to inform the Department of the capture of this steamer, on board of which I was a passenger under you order to report to Rear-Admiral Charles H. Bell for a command in the Pacific Squadron. She was taken possession of by the steamer Alabama off Cape Maysi, Cuba, on the afternoon of the 7th instant, on her outward passage from New York to Aspinwall, under the following circumstances:
It appears that as the Ariel rounded Cape Maysi a sail was observed close under the land flying the United States flag; that little attention was paid to her until she appeared to be heading toward this vessel, when Captain Jones, commanding the Ariel, made all speed. I, however, knew nothing of this until about 1:45 a.m., when one of the officers of the Ariel came into the cabin, where we were dining, and reported that the Alabama was close upon us. I immediately jumped to the deck and beheld a steamer not over 500 yards distant, rebel flag flying, and, having just fired a lee gun, Major Garland, commanding the detachment of marines (passengers on board bound to California), had them immediately formed in the waist and gangway. I at once say that nothing could be done. She was upon the Ariel with a heavy broadside, fully presented, and almost immediately two heavy broadside guns were fired, and a 68-pound shell struck the foremast just over the pilot house, cutting the mast more than half off. Captain Jones, seeing the utter impossibility of defending the vessel or injuring the enemy in any manner, with my advice and the advice of Major Garland and the voice of all the passengers, surrendered his ship.
. . . The Ariel was detained until about 10:30 p.m. on the 9th instant (fifty-six hours). Captain Semmes had, on the night of the 8th, sent word that he intended to land all the passengers at Kingston, Jamaica . . . .
Discuss the following:
1. How was the Alabama able to sneak up on and capture the Ariel?
2. What happened to the crew of the Ariel?
3. What do you think it would be like to be on a ship captured by the CSS Alabama?