Confederate Military History/Volume 7/Alabama Chapter 3
THE STATE CONVENTION—VARIANCE OF OPINION ON SECESSION—ADOPTION OP THE ORDINANCE OF SECESSION—ORGANIZATION OF MILITARY FORCES- CAMPAIGNS AND BATTLES IN ALABAMA—SOME OF ALABAMA'S DISTINGUISHED SOLDIERS.
I HAVE made quite a wide digression and have devoted considerable space to the endeavor to reproduce the sentiments prevailing among the most intellectual and patriotic leaders of the Northern States of the Union on the subject of State rights up to the very outbreak of hostilities.
In obedience to the act of the legislature, on December 6th, Governor Moore issued the proclamation ordering an election to be held on December 24th. The convention met on January 7, 1861, in the hall of representatives at Montgomery. Of the 100 men composing this body, many afterward proved their devotion to their State on the battlefield and in legislative halls, and some of them now hold high posts of honor in the reconstructed Union. The Rev. Basil Manly, ex-president of the State university, opened the proceedings with a touching and eloquent prayer:
Almighty Father, Maker of Heaven and Earth; King eternal, immortal, invisible; the only wise God! We adore Thee, for Thou art God, and besides Thee there is none else; our Fathers' God and our God! We thank Thee that Thou hast made us men endowed with reason, conscience and speech; capable of knowing, loving and serving Thee! We thank Thee for Thy Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Redeemer! We thank Thee for Thy word of truth, our guide to eternal life. We thank Thee for civil government, ruling in Thy fear; and we especially thank Thee that Thou didst reserve this fair portion of the earth so long undiscovered, unpolluted with the wars and the crimes of the old world, that Thou mightest here establish a free government and a pure religion. We thank Thee that Thou hast allotted us our heritage here, and hast brought us upon it at such a time as this. We thank Thee for all the hallowed memories connected with the establishment of the independence of Colonies, and their sovereignty as States, and with the formation and maintenance of our government, which we had devoutly hoped might last, unperverted and incorruptible, as long as the sun and moon endure.
Oh, our Father, we have striven as an integral part of this great Republic, faithfully to keep our solemn covenants in the Constitution of our country; and our conscience doth not accuse us of having failed to sustain our part in the civil compact. Lord of all the families of the earth, we appeal to Thee to protect us in the land Thou hast given us, the Institution Thou hast established, the rights Thou hast bestowed. And now, in our troubles, besetting us like great waters round about, we, Thy dependent children, humbly entreat Thy fatherly notice and care. Grant to Thy servants now assembled, as the direct representatives of the people of this State, all needful grace and wisdom for their peculiar and great responsibilities at this momentous crisis. Give them a clear perception of their duties as the embodiment of the people; impart to them an enlightened, mature and sanctified judgment in forming every conclusion; a steady, Heaven-directed purpose and will in attaining every right end. Save them from the disturbing influences of error, of passion, prejudice and timidity; from divided and conflicting counsels; give them one mind, and one way and let that be the mind of Christ. If Thou seest them ready to go wrong, interpose Thy heavenly guidance and restraint If slow and reluctant to execute what duty and safety require, quicken and urge them forward. Let patient inquiry and candor pervade every discussion; let calm, comprehensive and sober wisdom shape every measure and direct every vote; let all things be done in Thy fear and with a just regard to their whole duty toward God and toward man. Preserve them in health, in purity, in peace ; and cause that their session may promote the maintenance of equal rights, of civil freedom and good government; may promote the welfare of man, and the glory of Thy name. We ask all through Jesus Christ our Lord: Amen.
The delegates differed widely in their views as to the manner of procedure. Some were elected upon a platform, hereinafter quoted, which averred that it was the first duty "to use all honorable exertions to secure our rights in the Union." These had every reason to believe that they represented the majority of the people of the State. Others were sent instructed to secede at once; and these were found to make a majority of barely one. The whole course of the convention furnished a grand and glorious example of the dignity, moderation and self-sacrifice befitting the lofty patriotism of men whose whole souls were loyally devoted to their beloved State. With perhaps one exception, there was no harsh criticism, no impugning the motives nor questioning the patriotism of those differing on subjects of vital importance.
While opposing the ordinance for the immediate withdrawal of Alabama from the Union, one of the most distinguished of Alabama's sons but voiced the sentiments of the minority when he said:
I will not at this time express any argument of opposition I may entertain toward the ordinance of secession. .... I meet here a positive, enlightened and unflinching majority. I have respect for them, and I despair of being able to move them. In times like these, when neighboring States are withdrawing, one by one, from the Union, I cannot get my consent to utter a phrase which might be calculated, in the slightest degree, to widen the breaches at home. My opposition to the ordinance of secession will be sufficiently indicated by my vote; that vote will be recorded in the book; that book will take up its march for posterity; and the day is not yet come that is to decide on which part of the page of that book will be written the glory or the shame of this day. It is important to the State that you of the majority should be right, and that I should be wrong. However much personal gratification I might feel hereafter in finding that I was right on this great question and that you were wrong, that gratification would, indeed, be to me a poor consolation in the midst of a ruined and desolated country. Therefore, as the passage of the ordinance of secession is the act by which the destiny of Alabama is to be controlled, I trust that you are right and that I am wrong. I trust that God has inspired you with His wisdom, and that, under the influence of this ordinance, the State of Alabama may rise to the highest pinnacle of national grandeur.
To show, sir, that the declarations I now make are not forced by the exigencies of this hour, I read one of the resolutions from the platform upon which I was elected to this convention: "Resolved, That we hold it to be our duty, first, to use all honorable exertions to secure our rights in the Union, and if we should fail in this, we will maintain our rights out of the Union; for, as citizens of Alabama, we owe our allegiance first to the State; and we will support her in whatever course she may adopt."
Thus, Mr. President, you will observe that the course I now take is the result of the greatest deliberation, having been matured before I was a candidate for a seat in this convention; and there is a perfect understanding on this subject between me and my constituents. It but remains for me to add, that when your ordinance passes through the solemn forms of legislative deliberation, and receives the sanction of this body, I shall recognize it as the supreme law of the land; my scruples will fall to the ground; and that devotion, which I have heretofore, through the whole course of my public life, given to the Union of the States, shall be concentrated in my allegiance to the State of Alabama.
Another said: "I have opposed secession as long as opposition was of any avail. Now that the ordinance will pass, as a patriot, I feel bound to take the side of my native State in any contest which might grow out of it. I will vote against the ordinance."
On the 11th of January, the secession of Alabama from the Federal Union was accomplished. I give the full text of the act:
An Ordinance to dissolve the union between the State of Alabama and other States united under the compact styled "The Constitution of the United States of America."
Whereas, The election of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin to the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States of America, by a sectional party, avowedly hostile to the domestic institutions and to the peace and security of the people of the State of Alabama, preceded by many and dangerous infractions of the Constitution of the United States by many of the States and people of the Northern section, is a political wrong of so insulting and menacing a character as to justify the people of the State of Alabama in the adoption of prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security; therefore.
Be it declared and ordained by the people of the State of Alabama in convention assembled, That the State of Alabama now withdraws, and is hereby withdrawn from the Union known as "the United States of America," and henceforth ceases to be one of said United States, and is, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and independent State.
Be it further declared and ordained by the people of the State of Alabama in convention assembled, That all the powers over the territory of said State, and over the people thereof, heretofore delegated to the government of the United States of America, be, and they are hereby withdrawn from said government, and are hereby resumed and vested in the people of the State of Alabama.
Be it resolved by the people of Alabama in convention assembled. That the people of the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri be, and are hereby invited to meet the people of the State of Alabama by their delegates in convention on the 4th day of February, A. D. 1861, at the city of Montgomery in the State of Alabama, for the purpose of consulting with each other as to the most effectual mode of securing concerted and harmonious action in whatever measures may be deemed most desirable for our common peace and security.
And be it further resolved, That the president of this convention be, and is hereby instructed to transmit forthwith, a copy of the foregoing preamble, ordinance and resolution to the governors of the several States named in said resolutions.
Done by the people of the State of Alabama in convention assembled at Montgomery, on this, the 11th day of January, A. D. 1861.
During December and January, Governor Moore had taken possession of Forts Morgan and Gaines and the arsenal at Mount Vernon. The forts were strongly garrisoned ; and when the ordinance of secession was passed, the State was full of volunteers, busily drilling and preparing for hostilities.
Col. Tennent Lomax commanded the Second regiment of Alabama militia, which had been organized soon after the John Brown raid, and his were the first troops of Alabama to take position in preparing for the great struggle. After two months this regiment was disbanded and Colonel Lomax was put in command of the Third Alabama.
By October 7, 1861, the State had furnished fully 27,000 men to the Confederate cause, many of them being mere boys, and most of them drawn from the very flower of the land. There were sixty Alabama regiments of infantry, thirteen of cavalry, six battalions and twenty batteries, besides many companies from Alabama consolidated with those from other States in Confederate regiments, five of these being cavalry. Many of the regiments were commanded by veterans of the Mexican war, and some were led by officers fresh from West Point. Before the close of 1863, nearly 9,000 of these soldiers had been killed or had died of wounds, camp diseases and exposure.
Alabama, which was the cradle of the Confederacy, was also its grave; for on her soil was fought, at Fort Tyler, April 16, 1865, the last bloody conflict of the war.
Early in 1862, Tennessee being in the possession of the Federals, the northern counties of Alabama were harassed by continuous raids. In April, Huntsville was occupied by General Mitchel and Colonel Turchin. Indignities of all kinds were heaped upon the defenseless citizens, until General Mitchel was replaced by a more humane and generous commander in the person of General Buell. The Federals were driven back for a time by Bragg's advance into Kentucky, but they soon returned. In the fall of 1862, a spirited fight, principally with artillery, took place at Little Bear creek, near Tuscumbia, between General Sweeny and General Roddey, and the invaders were driven back to Corinth. Later on, Roddey's troops handsomely engaged the Federals at Barton Station, and again drove them back. In April, 1863, Forrest and Roddey fought Dodge's column at Brown's Ferry and repulsed him; but the Federal leader on his retreat destroyed everything within reach and left the beautiful valley a scene of utter desolation.
Leaving Roddey in possession of Brown's Ferry, Forrest started in pursuit of Streight, who was advancing on Rome. Then followed one of the most thrilling and brilliant campaigns of the war. The Federals were overtaken in the lower part of Morgan county, and after a desperate fight of three hours, were driven back into Blount county with a heavy loss of men and baggage. The pursuit was continued and the retreat of the Federals became a rout. They made several desperate stands but were unable to rally their demoralized columns. On, through Blount and Etowah counties, rushed pursuers and pursued, scarcely stopping for food or rest until on May 2d, they rested for the night near Turkeytown, Cherokee county. Forrest, who had only 500 men, by his skillful maneuvers so magnified the appearance of his forces as to secure the surrender of Streight's whole command, numbering 1,466, besides a detachment of 230 men on their way to destroy Rome.
In January, 1864, the condition in northern Alabama was such as to evoke an appeal to the war department by the congressional delegation of the State. It is here quoted in full:
The undersigned, senators and representatives from the State of Alabama, respectfully invite the attention of the Honorable Secretary of War to the consideration of a few suggestions relative to the present condition of North Alabama, and the necessity of permanently holding the south side of the Tennessee river in that State.
You are aware that the enemy now claim and hold all the country in said State north of said river; that river, running through the entire width of the State from east to west, is both deep and wide, difficult to be crossed by an enemy, and is now the dividing line between us and our foes. Brigadier-General Roddey, with his command, is guarding a portion of the south side of the river; but to enable him to do so more effectually, and to protect the country from the enemy at Corinth, Miss., and also to draw supplies for our army from Middle Tennessee, which he is expected to do, he will require a much larger force than he now has under his command. A glance at the map of the country will satisfy any one that if the raiding parties of the enemy be permitted to cross the river, there is no natural barrier to prevent him from sweeping as low down the country as the Alabama river, penetrating that region of the State in which are located the mining and manufacturing establishments now getting into successful operation, and which it is believed are and will continue to be of great benefit to our cause.
To protect our people against such calamity as would result from the incursions of the enemy, we deem it of the utmost importance that Geueral Roddey's command be retained in its present locality, and that he be permitted to increase his force from the adjacent country and from the region within the line of the enemy, and that he have returned to his brigade five companies of Alabama troops now under the command of Major-General Forrest. These companies were all raised by General Roddey, mostly within the enemy's lines and who entered the service expecting to continue under his command. They are very anxious to be restored to General Roddey's brigade, and we understand that General Forrest would not object to such restoration. These five companies are commanded respectively by Captains Steele, Moore, Barr, Warren and Hansell. From these sources we think that General Roddey will strengthen his command sufficiently to protect our people against the raids of the enemy, coming either across the Tennessee river or from the direction of Corinth. We think he will also be enabled to draw supplies of bacon, beef, cattle, hogs, grain, and leather from Middle Tennessee, in larger quantities than heretofore, though he has already drawn much in that way. Besides this, his position is such that should opportunity offer he could fall upon the enemy's communication with Chattanooga and do him serious damage.
Again, should the enemy be permitted to take possession of the country south of the Tennessee river, he will not find it difficult to extend his line to the Warrior and perhaps to the Alabama river, without meeting with serious opposition, but would, on the contrary, receive great encouragement in the mountain region in our State, where there is unfortunately in some parts a disaffected population.
In view of what is above set forth, we hope the Honorable Secretary of War will permit the necessary increase of General Roddey's force. We believe that by so doing the interest of the whole country would be greatly advanced.
Thos. J. Foster, John P. Ralls,
R. Jemison, Jr., C. C. Clay, Jr.
W. R. Smith,
The northern counties, being subjected to incessant raids, were the scenes of continuous bloodshed, and side by side were to be witnessed acts of the most wanton brutality and of unexampled heroism and daring. Churches, colleges and libraries, as well as private dwellings, were ransacked and destroyed. Guntersville, Marshall county, was shelled several times without warning and was finally burned.
In Claysville, on the night of March 8, 1864, Federals were quartered in three houses. Capt. H. F. Smith, of Jackson, with 65 men, crossed the river at Gunter's landing, cut off the pickets, and forced the surrender of 66 men with a large supply of stores and provisions.
In May, 1864, Colonel Patterson, of Morgan county, assisted by Stewart's battalion of 500 men, attacked the Federal stockade and garrison at Madison Station, took 80 prisoners and a large quantity of provisions, and conveyed them across the river in the face of the enemy. The garrison numbered 400; Patterson's loss was 7 killed and wounded.
In July, 1864, General Rousseau made a raid into the central part of the State and was gallantly opposed by the State reserves, composed principally of very young men.
Athens was occupied by a large force of Federals, and Limestone county was suffering under the odious rule of Colonel Turchin. September 23d, General Forrest arrived before Athens with 3,000 men and was joined by General Roddey's forces, about 1,500 strong. He captured the horses and cantonments of the enemy, driving the men into the fort; and, deploying his men so as to make them appear as at least 10,000, he demanded of Colonel Campbell an unconditional surrender. He secured the fortress with 1,400 prisoners and defeated a detachment which had come to their relief, destroyed the Federal posts in the vicinity, and on the 25th, took Sulphur Trestle, capturing 820 men, 350 horses, 2 pieces of artillery and 20 loaded wagons.
The city of Mobile was the most important in Alabama, and had been at the beginning of the conflict put in a state of defense. Three strong lines of works surrounded the city, and so well planned were the fortifications that it was one of the best fortified cities of the South, and was the last to fall into the hands of the enemy. Below the city the water approaches were protected by batteries Huger and Tracy; rows of piles obstructed the channel and torpedoes were placed in different parts of the bay. Seven miles from the city, a line of defenses known as Spanish Fort protected the bay shore and Forts Gaines and Morgan stood at the entrance of the bay, four miles apart, the former under the command of Colonel Anderson and the latter under General Page. The ram Tennessee and the gunboats Gaines, Morgan, Selma and others contributed to the defenses.
Early in 1864, Farragut arrived off Mobile bay. The campaign against Mobile was planned to consist of an attack by water to be supported by an attack by land forces under General Banks.
It was impossible on account of Federal reverses in the Red River campaign to carry out these arrangements immediately. General Canby was placed in command of the West Mississippi division in May, 1864, but was obliged to send a large portion of his force to the defense of Washington, and the attack on Mobile was postponed.
On August 2, 1864, Gen. Gordon Granger, United States army, arrived off Santa Rosa island with 1,500 men, proceeded to Dauphin island, and landed in spite of the resistance made by the fort guns and the gunboats.
At 6 o'clock, August 5th, fourteen vessels, with the Tecumseh in the lead, steamed toward Fort Morgan. The Tecumseh struck a torpedo and sank, but her place was filled by Farragut's flagship, the Hartford. This was engaged by the Tennessee, and a most desperate conflict ensued, until the ram was disabled and obliged to strike her colors. The Selma was captured, but the Morgan and Gaines escaped. Fort Gaines, shelled by the monitors on one side, and Granger's forces on the other, was compelled to surrender. Then followed the siege of Fort Morgan. Fire within the fort compelled the garrison to sacrifice most of their ammunition, and the interior of the fort was a mass of smouldering ruins in which lay the bodies of many of its brave defenders, when it was surrendered by General Page, August 23, 1864.
The Federal fleet now had control of the bay; and had
By March, Canby's army amounted to 45,000 men. General Maury had about 9,000 men. His headquarters were at Blakely, about three miles from Spanish Fort, and General Gibson was in command of the fort. To divert attention from their movements against Mobile, concerted attacks were to be made on the interior cities by Steele's column from the south and Wilson's from north Alabama.
Maury's cavalry was kept busy skirmishing in the direction taken by Steele's column, thus weakening the forces at Mobile. The advance was commenced March 17th, and was contested inch by inch, and the defenders were assisted by the natural obstructions found in the swampy roads, rendered almost impassable by incessant rains. March 27th, the siege of Spanish Fort commenced. The garrison comprised troops from Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, and the Alabama reserves under General Thomas. The latter were afterward relieved by Holtzclaw's brigade. The siege was most stubbornly contested. Day by day the enemy drew nearer, and gradually succeeded in getting siege-guns within range of the forts, while the garrison were continually fighting and repairing the breaches made in the walls. General Gibson described their life as "fighting all day and digging all night." They found it impossible to procure the labor and implements needed, and their force was daily growing less. In spite of this they made several brilliant sorties and inflicted terrible damage on the enemy.
April 8th, after a siege of thirteen days, a general bombardment was commenced, the besiegers having advanced steadily in spite of the heroic resistance of the garrison, whose lines were becoming painfully thin. Finally, after 300 yards of the left line had been broken and 350 prisoners taken, it was decided to evacuate the fort. Lieutenants Clark and Holtzclaw, with desperate bravery, held the enemy in check while the garrison evacuated the fort The first was killed, the second dangerously wounded.
Many of the soldiers marched through the mire to Fort Blakely and some to Mobile. The siege of Blakely was then progressing, and though the fort was defended with the most desperate valor, the brave garrison were finally compelled to yield after a hand-to-hand encounter with overwhelming numbers. General Maury, with about 4,500 men, retired to Meridian, and the Federals entered Mobile without further opposition.
While these operations were going on in south Alabama, General Wilson was on his famous raid from Gravelly Springs, Lauderdale county, to Selma. He had three divisions, commanded, respectively, by Generals McCook, Long and Upton. These three divisions were sent by different routes, meeting at the ford of the Black Warrior. They destroyed much valuable property and were opposed at various points by Roddey's and Crossland's brigades under Gen. Dan Adams, and by Forrest's troops, but nowhere could troops be massed in sufficient force to repulse the invaders. Selma, the most important depot of the Southwest, containing an arsenal and foundry, was besieged and taken, and given over to plunder, under orders to destroy everything which could benefit the Confederate cause. General Wilson proceeded to Montgomery, which he occupied April 12th, and then resumed his march into Georgia.
Meanwhile General Croxton marched toward Tuscaloosa, and twenty miles above the city was attacked by Gen. W. H. Jackson's division. Evading this force by a feint, he proceeded to Northport; crossing the bridge over the Black Warrior, he surprised the guard, captured the artillery and took possession of the town, destroyed the foundries and factories, the university, public works and stores, and remained there until April 5th. He then proceeded toward Eutaw. His progress was checked by a serious encounter with Gen. Wirt Adams, and only the firmness of the Second Michigan cavalry saved Croxton from overwhelming defeat. He remained near Northport for a few days and proceeded eastward.
April 16th, General Lagrange, who had been sent to reinforce Croxton, reached the vicinity of West Point with 3,000 men. A defense called Fort Tyler, manned by about 104 youths and convalescents, had been erected on the edge of Chambers county and confronted the enemy, whose whole force was directed against it. It was commanded by General Tyler, who resolved to defend it to the bitter end. He was killed, his successor, Captain Gonzalez, was mortally wounded, and then the command devolved upon Captain Parhan, who displayed the same invincible courage; but at last the overwhelming numbers of the enemy enabled them to scale the walls and throng into the little fortress, which was captured, and the Confederate flag torn from its last stronghold in the South. This was the last conflict of the war east of the Mississippi, with the exception of one of the same date at Columbus, Ga. Croxton's forces moved on toward Newnan, Ga.; but on the 26th, while they were crossing the river, a white flag appeared on the opposite bank, where the news awaited them of the fall of Richmond, the surrender of Lee and the assassination of Lincoln.
Many citizens of Alabama not mentioned on the rolls of the State troops made their names illustrious by chivalrous and daring deeds. Among the noble young heroes who laid down their lives for the cause of the South were John Pelham, John Herbert Kelly and John Gregg.
Colonel Pelham was a native of Calhoun county, Alabama, and was in the graduating class at West Point when the war broke out. Late in April, 1861, he returned home and reported at once for duty at Montgomery. He was commissioned as first lieutenant of artillery in the Confederate army and ordered to take charge of the ordnance at Lynchburg, Va. He was assigned as drill-master to Albertus' battery at Winchester, and his skill and daring in the handling of the guns at once attracted the attention of his superiors. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart intrusted him with the organization of a battery of horse artillery which he raised in Alabama, Virginia and Maryland. The men from Alabama were commanded by Lieut. William McGregor, a gallant and skillful officer. Pelham fought with great distinction at Williamsburg, First Cold Harbor, Second Bull Run, Sharpsburg, Shepherdstown and Fredericksburg, everywhere eliciting the unstinted admiration and warmest commendation of his commanding officers. His splendid daring at Fredericksburg drew from General Lee, who, in his report, calls him "the gallant Pelham," the remark: "It is glorious to see such courage in one so young." He rapidly passed through the different grades by promotion, and his commission as lieutenant-colonel was issued a few days before his death, which occurred at Kelly's Ford, March 17, 1863, while gallantly leading a wavering regiment, as he said, "Forward to victory and glory!" Pelham was a good scholar, a splendid horseman, and a magnificent athlete. He was very tall, of light but sinewy build, and so youthful looking that strangers gazed with astonishment upon the hero of almost fabulous renown. He was modest, courteous and refined, of unblemished character and undaunted courage; and his death was considered an irreparable loss to the army.
Gen. John Herbert Kelly, though two years younger, was a classmate and friend of Pelham, and like him left the academy within a short time of his graduation, and offered his services to the Confederacy. He was appointed second lieutenant and sent to Fort Morgan. He soon after went with General Hardee into Missouri, was commissioned major and placed in command of an Arkansas battalion ; after the battle of Shiloh, where he fought bravely, he was made colonel of the Eighth Arkansas regiment. He fought gallantly at Perryville and at Murfreesboro, where he was wounded. At Chickamauga he commanded a brigade and won high commendation on account of his skill and valor. He took part in the Sequatchie raid, and after its termination was recommended by General Wheeler as one of four officers he was authorized to select for promotion to the rank of brigadier-general. He was killed while leading a charge at Franklin, Tenn., August 20, 1864, deeply regretted by his comrades, who loved and admired him for his many noble qualities.
Gen. John Gregg, although a native of Alabama, entered the service from Texas, his adopted State, as lieutenant-colonel of the Seventh Texas. He was captured at Fort Donelson, and when exchanged, was assigned to the command of a brigade and was soon after made brigadier-general, in which position he was conspicuous for his courage and ability as a leader. He was killed while leading Field's division in the desperate assault upon the Federal lines, near Richmond, October 7, 1864. Professor Tutwiler, the distinguished teacher of Alabama, said of him : "Of the many noble young men who perished in our cause, none gave greater promise of distinction and usefulness to his country than John Gregg."
Admiral Raphael Semmes was another citizen of Alabama who made for himself a brilliant and unique record. He was born in Maryland and was educated at the United States naval academy. He became a resident of Alabama in 1842, and during the war with Mexico was flag lieutenant of Commodore Conner's flagship. He was placed in command of the Somers, employed in blockading Vera Cruz. When Alabama seceded, he resigned his commission in the United States navy, was at once commissioned naval commander of the Confederate service, and was sent to New York to purchase stores of war. He cruised six months with a small vessel called the Sumter, capturing 17 merchant vessels, but was finally blockaded at Gibraltar, and being unable to get coal, returned on an English vessel. He was put in command of the Alabama, and began his famous second cruise, during which he is said to have captured 50 merchant vessels. He fought and sunk the Federal steamer Hatteras, taking her crew to Jamaica, where they were paroled. Having dropped anchor in the port of Cherbourg, France, he was blockaded by the Kearsarge, which he challenged and fought, the action terminating disastrously for the Alabama, which sank just after striking her colors. Semmes and 40 of the crew were rescued by an English gentleman and taken to England, where a number of British officers presented him with a sword to replace the one he had thrown into the sea. Returning to America, he reached Richmond in January, 1865, and was assigned to the command of the James river fleet, consisting of 3 ironclads and 5 wooden steamers, which guarded the water approach to the city. On the evacuation of Richmond, he blew up his vessels, organized his marines into a brigade and proceeded to join the Confederate forces at Greensboro. After the surrender of Johnston's army, he returned quietly to Mobile, but was seized by order of the United States navy, taken to Washington and imprisoned, but after four months was released by the President's proclamation.
Col. Melancthon Smith entered the service of the State of Alabama as a captain of light artillery, July 1, 1861. His military education at West Point rendered him very efficient, and at the recommendation of his superior officers he was made major in August, 1862. Later on, he was promoted to colonel. He was chief of artillery in Hardee's, and afterward Cheatham's corps. He served in the battles of Belmont, Shiloh, Perryville, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, the battles of the Atlanta campaign and the subsequent campaign in north Alabama and middle Tennessee. After the war he settled in Mobile and engaged in journalism.
Appropriate in this connection is the following joint resolution of the Confederate States Congress, approved February 15, 1864:
Joint resolution of thanks to the soldiers from the State of Alabama who have re-enlisted for the war:
Whereas, In addition to the various brigades and regiments of veteran troops from the State of Alabama, to whom Congress has heretofore given evidence of grateful appreciation by a vote of thanks for re-enlisting for the war, other brigades and regiments are nobly coming to the rescue of their imperiled country by such re-enlistments, thus furnishing evidence that the citizen soldiery from that State have determined never to abandon the struggle in which we are engaged until our independence shall have been achieved: Therefore,
Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States of America, That the thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby tendered, alike to the gallant soldiers from the State of Alabama, who, in the first instance, enlisted for the war, and for those who, notwithstanding the toils and hardships of many a weary march and perils of many hard fought battles, have voluntarily come forward and offered their labors and lives.
Resolved, That such noble examples of heroism and self-sacrifice will ever be remembered by a grateful country, and should stimulate all those who remain at home to redouble their exertions to provide not only for the comfort and efficiency of those patriotic warriors, but for their families and loved ones whom they have left behind.