Monday, October 14, 2013


The Richmond Daily Dispatch, Oct. 14, 1863
C.S. Steamer Georgia
(U.S. Naval Historical Center)
Alarming raids of Confederate Steamers off the Cape of Good Hope.
      The Alabama, Capt. Semmes; Georgia, Capt. Maury; and Tuscaloosa, Lieut. Low, were all in or off the harbor of Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, in August, and were driving a brisk business among the Yankee shipping. The Cape Town Argus, of August 10th, says:
      During the whole of Saturday the Alabama lay quietly at anchor in Table bay, the waters of which had then become comparatively calm, but with the Valorous no longer alongside, that vessel having dragged her anchors during Friday night and drifted a considerable distance to leeward. In the latter part of the day, although the weather was gloomy, a goodly number of visitors went off to the vessel, and were received with the courteous urbanity which distinguished the conduct of the officers of the ship towards the crowds who thronged around her on Thursday.
       As soon as it was known that the Alabama was in Saldanha bay, Mr. Graham, the United States Consul at Cape Town, addressed a letter to the Governor, requesting that the vessel might be "at once seized and sent to England, from whence also clandestinely escaped," on the ground that the British Government, which had a treaty of amity and commerce with the United States, had not "recognized the persons in rebellion against the United States as a Government at all."His Excellency replied that he had no instructions or authority to seize or detain the vessel, and that the course taken by Captain Semmes was, in his opinion, in conformity with the instructions he had received relative to ships-of-war and privateers belonging to the Government of the United States and the States calling themselves the Confederate States visiting British ports.
      Against the capture of the Sea Bride Mr. Graham protested, on the ground that the capture was made within British waters, contending that neutral waters were limited to the fighting distance from land, which, since the invention of Armstrong guns, must be held to be six miles. He also subsequently claimed her forfeiture on the ground that, on the day succeeding her capture the prize crew on board of her brought her within a mile and a half of Green Point lighthouse, which he maintained "was a violation of neutrality as much as if the capture had taken place at that distance from land." But on both points the decision of the Governor was adverse to his views. Mr. Graham also claimed the delivery to him, as the official agent of the former owners of the Conrad, of the Tuscaloosa, on the ground that being a prize and "not having been condemned by any admiralty court of any recognized Government, " she was debarred from entering any British port, and ought, therefore, "to revert to her real owners" the moment she violated the Queen's proclamation.
      His Excellency replied that he was not aware of any provision of international law by which captured ships, as soon as they entered neutral ports, reverted to their real owners. He believed that the claims of contending parties to captured vessels could be determined in the first instance only by the courts of the captor's country, and was satisfied that the Tuscaloosa was entitled to be regarded as a vessel of war.
       Against the decision of his Excellency in each case Mr. Graham formally "protested" in the name of his Government. Having completed on Saturday the repairs intended to be effected here, at an early hour on Sunday morning Capt. Semmes weighed anchor, and at 6 o'clock the Alabama took her first departure from Table bay.
       On Saturday the Confederate ship cruiser Tuscaloosa, Lieut. Low, commander, formerly the Conrad, of Philadelphia, captured by the Alabama and converted by Capt. Semmes into a tender to his ship, put into Simon's bay for the purpose of refitting. She carries two guns and ten men before the masts. About fourteen days ago she fell in with the American ship Santee, bound from Rangoon to Falmouth, and captured her; but as the vessel was laden with a cargo belonging to British owners she was allowed to proceed on giving a bond of $150,000.
Capt. William Lewis Maury
(Recollections of a Rebel Reefer)
       A few days after the Tuscaloosa fell in with the American China clipper ship Snow Squall, eight hundred tons, homeward bound. It was blowing hard at the time, and the Tuscaloosa having fired at the Snow Squall without bringing her to, made chase; but the latter, being the fastest sailer, escaped. On Sunday afternoon the Confederate ship steamer Georgia, Captain Maury, entered Simon's Bay for coal and repairs. She appears to be an ordinarily-built packet boat, certainly not intended for a fighting craft, but having a good crew, and being armed with two Whitworth rifled guns aft, one large fifty-six gun forward, and two thirty-twos on her quarter-deck, and being a fast sailer, is well suited to capture merchant ships and run from war vessels of superior armament but inferior speed. As she got into the entrance of the harbor of St. Vincent she discovered a man-of-war with the American colors flying, put about and went to the north side of the island, where she lay until dark and then stood out for sea.
        The Georgia on her way captured the ship bark Good Hope, of Boston, bound to Agulhas, with a general cargo. Her captain had died some days before, and his body being preserved in salt, Captain Maury had it brought on board the Georgia, read the funeral service over it, and committed it to the deep. During the service the ship bark J. W. Sever hove in sight and was chased by the Georgia. She was from Boston, bound to the Amoor river, with machinery for the Russian Government. The prisoners of the Good Hope were put on board and she was bonded.
       On the 25th of June she captured the ship Constitution, of New York, loaded with coal for Shanghai, made a prize of her, and took her into the island. On the 28th of July the Georgia captured the ship City of Bath, of Bath, from Callao to Antwerp. The cargo being neutral, she was bonded, and the prisoners of the Constitution were put on board her. On the 16th of July the Georgia captured the ship Prince of Wales, of Bath, from Valparaiso, bound to Antwerp with guano.--The cargo being neutral, the ship was bonded.

       The following is a list of the Georgia's officers: W. L. Maury, Commander; Chapman, First Lieutenant; Evans, Second Lieutenant; Smith, Third Lieutenant; Ingraham, Fourth Lieutenant; Walker, Passed Midshipman; Morgan, Midshipman; Curtis, Paymaster; Wheedon, Doctor, and Pearson, Chief Engineer. The Georgia will take in from two hundred to three hundred tons of coal, besides general supplies.

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