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He did his utmost to persuade England to join him in
intervening against us.

With a faint haze resting on the town and sea, the _Alabama_ steamed
slowly out of the harbor on Sunday morning, June 19th, and headed toward
the waiting _Kearsarge_. The latter began moving seaward, as if afraid
to meet her antagonist. The object of Captain Winslow, however, was to
draw the _Alabama_ so far that no question about neutral waters could
arise, and in case the _Alabama_ should be disabled, he did not
intend to give her the chance to take refuge in Cherbourg.


The battle between the _Kearsarge_ and the _Alabama_ took place off the
coast of Holland, June, 1864. "The famous cruiser was going down, and
the boats of the _Kearsarge_ were hurriedly sent to help the drowning
men. The stern settled, the bow rose high in the air, the immense ship
plunged out of sight, and the career of the _Alabama_ was ended

Three miles was the neutral limit, but Captain Winslow continued to
steam out to sea until he had gone nearly seven miles from shore. Then
he swung around and made for the _Alabama_. As he did so, Captain Semmes
delivered three broadsides, with little effect. Then fearing a raking
fire, Captain Winslow sheered and fired a broadside at a distance of
little more than half a mile, and strove to pass under the _Alabama's_
stern, but Semmes also veered and prevented it.

Since each vessel kept its starboard broadside toward the other, they
began moving in a circular direction, the current gradually carrying
both westward, while the circle narrowed until its diameter was about a
fourth of a mile.

From the beginning the fire of the _Kearsarge_ was much more accurate
and destructive than her antagonist's. Hardly had the battle opened when
the gaff and colors of the _Alabama_ were shot away, but another ensign
was quickly hoisted at the mizzen. Captain Winslow instructed his
gunners to make every shot count. This was wise, for its effects became
speedily apparent. The _Kearsarge_ fired 173 shots, nearly all of which
landed, while of the 370 of the _Alabama_, only 28 hit the _Kearsarge_.
One of these, a 68-pounder shell, exploded on the quarter-deck, wounding
three men, one mortally. Another shell, bursting in the hammock
nettings, started a fire, which was speedily extinguished. A third
buried itself in the sternpost, but fortunately did not explode. The
damage done by the remaining shots was trifling.

One of the _Kearsarge's_ 11-inch shells entered the port of the
_Alabama's_ 8-inch gun, tore off a part of the piece, and killed several
of the crew. A second shell entered the same port, killed one man and
wounded several, and soon a third similar shot penetrated the same
opening. Before the action closed, it was necessary to re-form the crew
of the after pivot gun four times. These terrific missiles were aimed
slightly below the water-line of the _Alabama_, with a view of sinking

About an hour had passed and seven complete revolutions had been
described by the ships, and the eighth had just begun, when it became
apparent that the _Alabama_ was sinking. She headed for neutral waters,
now only two miles distant, but a few well-planted shots stopped her,
and she displayed the white flag. Her race was run, and Captain Winslow
immediately ceased firing and lowered his only two serviceable boats,
which were hurried to the aid of the drowning men. A few minutes later
the bow of the _Alabama_ rose high in air, and then the noted cruiser
plunged downward, stern foremost, and disappeared forever in the bottom
of the ocean.

Cruising in the neighborhood of the fight was the English yacht
_Deerhound_, which now joined in rescuing the crew of the _Alabama_ at
the request of Captain Winslow. She was in duty bound to deliver the men
she saved to Winslow as prisoners of war, but, instead of doing so, she
watched her chance, and, under full steam, made for Southampton,
carrying forty-two, among whom were Captain Semmes and fourteen
officers. Semmes had flung his sword into the sea and leaped overboard
as the _Alabama_ was going down. His vessel had nine killed, ten
drowned, and twenty-one wounded, while on the _Kearsarge_ of the three
wounded only one died. A demand was made upon the English government for
the surrender of the men carried away by the _Deerhound_, but it was


The Confederate cruiser _Georgia_ took on the guise of a merchant
vessel, but was seized off the coast of Portugal by the _Niagara_, and
sent to this country as a lawful prize. The _Florida_, while lying in
the neutral port of Bahia, Brazil, was attacked, October 7th, by the
_Wachuset_, captured, and taken to Hampton Roads. This action was
illegal, being similar to the attack made upon the _Essex_ in the harbor
of Valparaiso in the War of 1812. While awaiting decision as to the
legality of her capture, she was run into by a steam transport and sunk.
It may be doubted whether this method of settling the dispute was wholly

The _Shenandoah_ did most of her destructive work in the far Pacific. As
a consequence she did not hear of the conclusion of the war until
several months afterward, and she was, therefore, virtually a pirate
fighting under a flag that had no legal existence. Her captain, when the
news reached him, steamed for England, and turned over his vessel to the
British government.


Probably no more formidable ironclad was ever built by the Southern
Confederacy than the _Albemarle_. She had been constructed under great
difficulties, work being begun early in 1863, when, it was said, her
keel was laid in a cornfield. When finished she was 122 feet over all,
and was propelled by twin screws with engines of 200 horse-power each.
Her armament consisted of an Armstrong gun of 100 pounds at the bow and
a similar one at the stern.

The _Albemarle_ demonstrated on the first opportunity the appalling
power she possessed. The Federals had captured Plymouth, North Carolina,
which was attacked by the Confederates, April 17th and 18th. They were
repulsed mainly through the assistance of two wooden gunboats, the
_Miami_ and _Southfield_, but the _Albemarle_ came down the river on the
19th and engaged them. The shots of the gunboats did no more harm than
those of the _Cumberland_ and _Congress_ when fired against the
_Merrimac_. The _Southfield_ was crushed as so much pasteboard, and
sent to the bottom of the river, while the mangled _Miami_ limped off,
accompanied by two tugboats. The next day Plymouth surrendered to the
Confederates. In a fight some weeks later with the Union vessels, the
_Albemarle_ inflicted great injury, and withstood all the ramming and
broadsides that could be brought against her. She was a most dangerous
vessel indeed, and caused the government a great deal of uneasiness.

Several attempts were made to destroy her, but the Confederates were
watchful and vigilant. She was moored to the wharf, about eight miles up
the river, upon the shores of which a thousand men were encamped. They
patrolled the banks and kept bright fires burning all night. The crew of
the ram were alert, and a boom of cypress logs encircled the craft some
thirty feet from the hull, to ward off the approach of torpedoes. It
would seem that no possible precaution was neglected.

Among the most daring men ever connected with the American navy was
William Barker Cushing. He was born in 1842, and educated at the Naval
Academy. He was of so wild a disposition that many of his friends saw
little hope of his success in life. But, entering the service at the
beginning of the war, he quickly gave proof of a personal courage that
no danger could affect. He seemed to love peril for the sake of itself,
and where death threatened he eagerly went. He expressed confidence that
he could destroy the _Albemarle_ and asked permission to make the
attempt. His superior officers knew that if its destruction was within
the range of human possibility, he would accomplish it, and the ram was
so great a menace to the Union fleet that he was told to try his hand at
the seeming impossible task.

Although Cushing was a young man of unsurpassable bravery, ready at all
times to take desperate chances, there was what might be termed method
in his madness. He needed no one to tell him that in his attempt to
destroy the _Albemarle_, the slightest neglect in his preparations were
likely to prove fatal. He, therefore, took every precaution that
ingenuity could devise. Two picket boats were constructed with spar
torpedoes attached, and with engines so formed that by spreading
tarpaulin over them all light and sound was obscured. When traveling at
a low rate of speed, they could pass within a few yards of a person in
the darkness without his being able to hear or see anything. A howitzer
was mounted at the bow, and the spar, with the torpedo attached, was
fitted at the starboard bow.

The boats, having been completed in New York, were sent to Norfolk by
way of the canals. One of them was lost in Chesapeake Bay, but the other
reached its destination. Several days were spent in preparation, and the
night of October 27th was selected for the venture. It could not have
been more favorable, for it was of impenetrable darkness and a fine,
misty rain was falling. Cushing's companions in the picket boat were:
Acting Ensign W.L. Howarth, Acting Master's Mates T.S. Gay and John
Woodman, Acting Assistant Paymaster F.H. Swan, Acting Third Assistant
Engineers C.L. Steever and W. Stotesbury, and eight men whose names were
as follows: S. Higgens, first-class fireman; R. Hamilton, coal heaver;
W. Smith, B. Harley, E.J. Houghton, ordinary seamen; L. Deming, H.
Wilkes, and R.H. King, landsmen. He took in tow a small cutter, with
which to capture the guard that was in a schooner anchored near the
_Southfield_ that had been raised, and whose duty it was to send up an
alarm rocket on the approach of any expedition against the _Albemarle_.
It was intended to run ashore a little below the ram, board and capture
her by surprise, and take her down the river.

It was about midnight that the start was made.

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