Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 38.djvu/47
Admiral Raphael Semmes. 35
between New York and Aspinwall. The Alabama was lying in wait for a homeward bound vessel of the same "Line," in hopes, by her seizure, of being able to replenish her exhausted treasury from the gold bullion which usually constituted a portion of the cargo, and it was a disappointment, when, instead of meeting up with a homeward bound vessel, the Ariel, outward bound, came in sight. This "Leviathan of the deep" presented a beautiful picture as she "lay to" upon the placid waters, under the guns of the Alabama, with flags flying and the gay apparel of pas- sengers which crowded her decks, fluttering in the breeze.
The Ariel's owner — Commodore Vanderbilt — had been very aggressive and active in the effort to capture or destroy the Alabama, fitting out, at his own expense, a cruiser for that ex- press purpose. And Captain Semmes was therefore itching to burn her, and was only prevented from doing so because of the fact that the Ariel had on board upwards of a thousand pas- sengers, of whom he could make no disposition. Reluctantly, therefore, the Ariel was bonded and permitted to go rejoicing upon her voyage. LSSS^O
When the Ariel was "hove to," her passengers believing that they had verily fallen into the hands of the "Pirate," commenced hiding their valuables, and were in a great state of alarm. But, upon the handsome young Confederate officer, who boarded the Ariel, assuring the passengers that the Alabama was not making war upon women and children and private property, and that, therefore, none of their effects would be molested, they soon became pacified and even friendly, resulting in the young officer returning to the Alabama, shorn of all the brass buttons and gold lace from his uniform, which had been appropriated by the ladies as souvenirs of the meeting.
One of the most troublesome foes Captain Semmes had to contend with was the irrepressible Federal Consul, to be met with at every point, constantly on the alert and active in throw- ing every obstacle in the way of his coaling and provisioning his vessels, when entering neutral ports. Most of these fellows were men of small mental calibre, whose only code of principle and honor was Yankee cunning and zeal in truckling to their '"Big Boss," and who, often, did not hesitate to stoop to under-