Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/69

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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,